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Title: With the Doughboy in France - A Few Chapters of an American Effort
Author: Hungerford, Edward
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.

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       *       *       *       *       *





       *       *       *       *       *

No matter what hour; always the gobs and buddies--other armies as well
as our own--ready with 100 per cent appetites]


A Few Chapters of an American Effort



Author of The Modern Railroad, The Personality
of American Cities, etc., etc.

New York
The Macmillan Company
All rights reserved

Copyright, 1920,
By the Macmillan Company

Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1920.


    The girl in the steel-gray uniform with the crimson crosses,
    who toiled and endured and danced and laughed
    and lived, that the heart and soul of the
    boy in khaki might remain untroubled,
    this book is affectionately


Six months ago I finished writing the chapters of this book. At that
time the American Red Cross still had a considerable force in
Paris--throughout France for that matter. It was still functioning and,
after its fashion, functioning extremely well. In the language of the
French it "marched." To-day its marching days in the land of the lilies
are nearly over. The personnel have nearly all returned home; the few
that remain are clearing and packing the records. In a short time the
_Croix Rouge Américaine_ which for months was so evident in the streets
of the French capital will be but a memory along the Boulevards. But a
memory of accomplishment not soon to be forgotten. If there is one
undying virtue of the Frenchman it is that of memory. Seemingly he
cannot forget. And for years the remembrance of our Red Cross in his
land is going to be a pleasant thought indeed. Of that I am more than

To attempt to write a history, that should be at all adequate as
complete history, of a great effort which was still in progress, as the
writing went forward, would have been a lamentable task indeed. So this
book makes no pose as history; it simply aims to be a picture, or a
series of pictures of America in a big job, the pictures made from the
standpoint of a witnesser of her largest humanitarian effort--the work
of the American Red Cross.

I should feel embarrassed, moreover, at signing my name to this book
were any reader of it to believe that it was in any large sense
whatsoever a "one man" production. The size of the field to be covered,
the brief space of time allotted in which to make some sort of a
comprehensive picture of a really huge endeavor, made it necessary for
the author to call for help in all directions. The answers to that call
were immediate and generous. It hardly would be possible within a single
chapter of this volume to make a complete list of the men and women who
helped in its preparation. But the author does desire to state his
profound sense of indebtedness to Mrs. Caroline Singer Mondell, Mrs.
Kathleen Hills, Miss E. Buckner Kirk, Major Daniel T. Pierce, Captain
George Buchanan Fife and Lieutenant William D. Hines. These have borne
with him patiently and have been of much real assistance. His
appreciation is great.

This picture of an American effort tells its own story. I have no
intention at this time or place to attempt to elaborate it; but merely
wish in passing to record my personal and sincere opinion that, in the
workings of our Red Cross overseas, there seemed to me to be such an
outpouring of affection, of patriotism, of a sincere desire to serve as
I have never before seen. It was indeed a triumph for our teachings and
our ideals.

    E. H.
    New York--January, 1920.


    CHAPTER I                                       PAGE
    AMERICA AWAKENS                                    1

    OUR RED CROSS GOES TO WAR                          6

    ORGANIZING FOR WORK                               13

    THE PROBLEM OF TRANSPORT                          39



    THE RED CROSS ON THE FIELD OF HONOR              128




    WHEN JOHNNY CAME MARCHING HOME                   259

    THE GIRL WHO WENT TO WAR                         278


    SUPPER HOUR AT BORDEAUX                   _Frontispiece_
    No matter what hour; always the gobs and buddies--other
    armies as well as our own--ready with 100 per
    cent appetites.

                                                 FACING PAGE
    SO THIS IS PARIS                                      20
    A. E. F. Boys, guests of our A. R. C. in its great
    hospital at St. Cloud, look down about the "Queen
    City of the World."

    CHOW                                                  62
    The rolling kitchens, builded on trailers to motor
    trucks, brought hot drinks and food right up to the men
    in action.

    OUR RED CROSS AT THE FRONT                           100
    A typical A. R. C. dugout just behind the lines.

    AS SEEN FROM ALOFT                                   140
    The aëroplane man gets the most definite impression at
    the A. R. C. Hospital at Issordun, which was typical
    at these field institutions.

    TICKLING THE OLD IVORIES                             180
    Many an ancient piano did herculean service in the
    A. R. C. recreation huts throughout France.

    BANDAGES BY THE TENS OF THOUSANDS                    220
    An atelier workshop of the A. R. C. in the Rue St.
    Didier, Paris, daily turned out surgical dressings by
    the mile.

    NEVER SAY DIE                                        262
    Sorely wounded, our boys at the great A. R. C. field
    hospital in the Auteuil race track outside of Paris,
    kept an active interest in games and sports.




In that supreme hour when the United States consecrated herself to a
world ideal and girded herself for the struggle, to the death, if
necessary, in defense of that ideal, the American Red Cross was ready.
Long before that historic evening of the sixth of April, 1917, when
Congress made its grim determination to enter the cause "for the
democracy of the world," the Red Cross in the United States had felt the
prescience of oncoming war. For nearly three years it had heard of, nay
even seen, the unspeakable horrors of the war into which it was so soon
to be thrust. It had witnessed the cruelties of the most modern and
scientific of conflicts; a war in which science seemingly had but
multiplied the horrors of all the wars that had gone before. Science and
_kultur_ between them had done this very thing. In the weary months of
the conflict that began with August, 1914, the American Red Cross had
taken far more than a merely passive interest in the Great War overseas.
It had watched its sister organizations from the allied countries,
already involved in the conflict, struggle in Belgium and France and
Russia against terrific odds; it had bade each of these "Godspeed," and
uttered many silent prayers for their success. The spirit of Florence
Nightingale and Clara Barton still lived--and still enthused.

It would have been odd--almost inconceivable, in fact--if anything else
had been true. It would have been unpardonable if the American Red Cross
had not, long before our entrance into the conflict, scented that
forthcoming step, and, having thus anticipated history, had failed to
make the most of the situation. We Americans pride ourselves as a nation
upon our foresightedness, and an institution so distinctly American as
the American Red Cross could hardly fail to have such a virtue imbedded
in the backbone of its character.

Ofttimes, as a boy, have I read of the warriors of long ago, and how,
when they prepared for battle, it was their women--their wives and their
mothers, if you please,--who girded them for the conflict; who breathed
the prayers for their success, and who, whether or not they succeeded in
attaining that success, bound up their wounds and gave them comfort upon
their return. Such is the spirit of the Red Cross. The American artist
who created that most superb of all posters, _The Greatest Mother in the
World_, and who placed in the arms of that majestic and calm-faced woman
the miniature figure of a soldier resting upon a stretcher, sensed that
spirit. The American Red Cross is indeed the greatest mother in the
world, and what mother--what American mother in particular--could have
failed in the early spring of 1917 to anticipate the inevitable?
Certainly none of the mothers of the hundred thousand or more boys who
anticipated our own formal entrance into the Great War, by offering
themselves--bodies and hearts and souls--to the armies of Britain,
France, and Canada.

Other pens more skilled than mine have told, and will continue to tell,
of the organization of the Red Cross at home to meet the certainties and
the necessities of the oncoming war. For if America had not heretofore
realized the magnitude of the task that was to confront her and had even
permitted herself to become dulled to the horrors of the conflict
overseas, the historic evening of the sixth of April, 1917, awakened
her. It galvanized her from a passive repugnance at the scenes of the
tragic drama being enacted upon the great stage of Europe into a bitter
determination that, having been forced into the conflict, no matter for
what reason, she would see it through to victory; and no matter what the
cost. Yet cost in this sense was never to be interpreted into
recklessness. Her boys were among her most precious possessions, and, if
she were to give them without stint and without reserve--all for the
glory of her supreme ideal--she would at least surround them with every
possible requisite for their health, their comfort, and their strength.
This was, and is, and will remain, the fundamental American policy.

With such a policy, where should America turn save to her Red Cross? And
who more fit to stand as its spiritual and actual head than her
President himself? So was it done. And when President Wilson found that
the grave responsibilities of his other great war tasks would prevent
him from giving the American Red Cross the detailed attention which it
needed, he quickly appointed a War Council. This War Council was hard at
work in a little over a month after the signing of the declaration of
war. It established itself in the headquarters building of the Red Cross
in the city of Washington and quickly began preparations for the great
task just ahead.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the fiber of this War Council the President scanned closely the
professional and business ranks of American men. He reached out here and
there and chose--here and there. And, in a similar way, the War Council
chose its own immediate staff. A man from a New York city banking house
would find his office or his desk--it was not every executive that could
have an office to himself in those days--adjoining that of a ranch owner
from Montana or Wyoming. The lawyer closed his brief case and the doctor
placed his practice in other hands. The manufacturer bade his plant
"good-by" and the big mining expert ceased for the moment to think of
lodes and strata. A common cause--a common necessity--was binding them


War was the cause and war the necessity. A real war it was, too--a real
war of infinite possibilities and of very real dangers; war, the thing
of alarms and of huge responsibilities, and for that war we must

It was said that America was unready, and so it was--in a way. It was
unprepared in material things--aëroplanes and guns and ships and
well-trained men. But its resources in both money and in men who had
potential possibilities of becoming the finest soldiers the world had
ever seen, were vast, almost limitless. And it was prepared in idealism,
and had assuredly a certain measure of ability. It was prepared too to
use such ability as it had in turning its resources--money and untrained
men--into a fighting army of material things; material things and
idealism. One thing or the other helped win the conflict.

       *       *       *       *       *

"They said that we could not raise an army; that if we did raise it, we
could not transport it overseas; and that if we did transport it
overseas, it could not fight--and in one day it wiped out the St. Mihiel

These words tell the entire story--almost. Not that it becomes us
Americans to talk too much about our forces having won the war. For one
thing, it is not true. The British and the French armies also won the
war, and if both had not hung on so tenaciously ours would not even be a
fair share of the victory. But for them there would have been no
victory, not on our side of the Rhine, at any rate, and men in Berlin,
instead of in Paris, would have been dictating peace terms.

It is true, however, that without our army, and certainly without our
moral prestige and our resources, the fight for democracy might have
been lost at this time, and for many years hereafter. Count that for
organization--for real American achievement, if you please. We builded
a machine, a huge machine, a machine not without defects and some of
them rather glaring defects as you _come_ close to them, but it was a
machine that functioned, and, upon the whole, functioned extremely well.
It took raw materials--men among them--and fashioned them into fighting
materials; fighting materials which flowed in one channel or another
toward the fighting front overseas. And with one of these channels--the
work of the American Red Cross with the Army of the United States in
France--this book has to do.



On the day that General John J. Pershing first came to Paris--it was the
thirteenth of June, 1917--the American Red Cross already was there. It
greeted the American commanding general on his arrival at the French
capital, an occasion long to be remembered even in a city of memorable
celebrations. For hours the historic Place de la Concorde was thronged
with patient folk. It was known that General Pershing was to be
quartered at the Hotel Crillon--since come to a new fame as the
headquarters of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace--and it was
in front of the doors of that establishment that the crowd stood
thickest. There were many, many thousands of these waiting folk,
close-packed upon the pavement, and only giving way to a dusty limousine
in which sat the man who was to help bring salvation to France and
freedom to the democracy of the world.

After the doors of the hotel had swallowed General Pershing and his
French hosts, the crowd refused to disperse; also, it became less
patient. A long swinging chant began--the typical chant of the Paris
mob. "_Balcon, balcon, balcon_," it sang in rhythmic monotony, and upon
the balcony of the hotel in a few minutes Pershing appeared, while the
crowd below him went wild in its enthusiasm.

But before the American commanding general had made his appearance upon
the balcony he had been greeted in the parlors of the Crillon, both
formally and informally, by the members of the first American Red Cross
Commission to Europe. By coincidence that Commission had arrived in
Paris that very morning from America, and were the first Americans to
greet their high commanding officer in France. And so also to give him
promise that the organization which they represented would be ready for
the army as soon as it was ready; for back in the United States
widespread plans for the great undertaking so close at hand already were
well under way.

This American Commission had sailed from New York on the steamship
_Lorraine_, of the French Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, on the
second day of June. It consisted of eighteen men, headed by Major
Grayson M.-P. Murphy, a West Point man of some years of active army
training and also a New York banker of wide experience. The other
members of the party were James H. Perkins, afterward Red Cross
Commissioner for France; William Endicott, afterward Red Cross
Commissioner for Great Britain; Frederick S. Hoppin, Rev. Robert Davis,
Rev. E. D. Miel, F. R. King, Philip Goodwin, Ernest McCullough, Ernest
T. Bicknell, C. G. Osborne, R. J. Daly, A. W. Copp, John van Schaick,
and Thomas H. Kenny. They were men who had been hastily recruited and
yet not without some special qualifications for the difficult
preliminary work which they were about to undertake. Until the
preliminary "get-acquainted" luncheon which Major Murphy gave for the
party in New York on the day preceding its sailing, comparatively few of
them knew one another. Yet the great task into which they were entering
was to make them lifelong friends, and to develop for the Red Cross,
both in Europe and in America, many executives whose real abilities had
not really been attained at the time of their appointment to Red Cross

These men were volunteers. With a few exceptions, such as clerical
workers and the like, the early members of the Red Cross served without
pay. At first they had no military rank. Apart from Major Murphy, who
bore the title of Commissioner to Europe--there being at the time no
separate Commissioner to France or to Great Britain--there were merely
deputy commissioners, inspectors, and secretaries. Major Murphy's title
had come to him through his army service. It was not until some time
later that the War Department issued General Orders No. 82 (July 5,
1917), conferring titles and fixing the assimilated rank of Red Cross
personnel. Accordingly commissions and rank were given and the khaki
uniform of the United States Army adopted, with distinctive Red Cross
markings. Though it is not generally understood, American Red Cross
officers have received from the President of the United States, issued
through and over the signature of the Secretary of War, commissions
which appointed them to their rank and held them to the discipline and
the honor of the United States Army.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the _Lorraine_ was well out of the upper harbor of New York on
that memorable second day of June, Major Murphy called a meeting of the
Commission. He explained to them in a few words that they were, in
effect, even then, military officers and would be expected to observe
military discipline, and as a beginning would appear at dinner that
evening in their uniforms--the army regulations at that time prevented
relief workers of any sort appearing in the United States in their
overseas uniforms--and thereafter would not appear without their
uniforms until their return to America. The grim business of war
seemingly was close at hand. It began in actuality when one first donned
its accouterments, and was by no means lessened in effect by the stern
war-time rules and discipline of a merchant ship which, each time she
crossed the Atlantic, did so at grave peril.

Yet peril was not the thing that was uppermost in the minds of this
pioneer Red Cross party. It took the many rules of "lights out" and
"life preservers to be donned, _s'il vous plaît_," boat drill, and all
the rest of this particularly grim part of the bigger grim business,
good-humoredly and light-heartedly, yet kept its mind on the grimmer
business on the other side of the Atlantic. And, so that it might
become more efficient in that grimmest business, undertook for itself
the study of French--at one and the same time the most lovable and most
damnable of all languages.

"I shall not consider as efficient any member of the party who does not
acquire enough French to be able to navigate in France under his own
power in three months."

Major Murphy laughed as he said this, but he meant business. And so did
the members of the Commission. As the ship settled down to the routine
of her passage, the members of the Commission settled down to a
life-and-death struggle with French. For two long hours each morning
they went at it. At first they gathered in little groups upon the decks,
each headed by some one capable of giving more or less instruction; then
they found their way to the lounge, where they grouped themselves round
about a young woman from Smith College who had taught French in that
institution for some years. It was this young woman's self-inflicted job
to give conversational lessons to the Red Cross party, and this she did
with both enthusiasm and ability. She chose to give them conversational
French--in the form of certain simple and dramatic little childhood

"This morning we will have the story of Little Red Riding Hood," she
would say, "and after I am done telling it to you in French, you
gentlemen, one by one, will tell it back to me--in French."

In order that the effect of the lesson should not be too quickly lost
Major Murphy ruled that French, and no other language, should be both
official and unofficial for luncheon each day. This order quickly
converted an ordinarily genial meal into a Quaker meeting. For when one
of mademoiselle's more enthusiastic pupils would start an audacious
request for "_Encore le pain, s'il vous plaît_," he was almost sure to
be greeted either with groans or grins from his fellows. Yet the lessons
of those short ten days were invaluable. Many of the men of that party
who since have attained more than a "navigating" knowledge of French
have to thank the lady from Smith College for their opportunity to
acquire it. The "bit" that she did for the Red Cross was perhaps small,
but it was exceedingly valuable.

Afternoons, sometimes evenings, too, were given to business conferences
wherein ways and means for meeting the big problem so close ahead were
given attention. It matters not that many of the plans so carefully
developed upon the _Lorraine_ were, of necessity, abandoned after the
party reached France. The very men who were making these plans realized
as they were making them that field service--actual practice, if you
please--is far different from theory, and as they planned, felt that the
very labor they were undergoing might yet have to be thrown away,
although not completely wasted. For the members of that pioneer Red
Cross Commission were gaining one thing of which no situation whatsoever
might deprive them; they were gaining an experience in teamwork that was
to be invaluable in the busy weeks and months that were to follow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Very early in the morning of the twelfth of June the _Lorraine_ slipped
into the mouth of the Gironde river; for the Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique, driven from Havre by the submarine menace and the
necessity of giving up the Seine embouchure to the great transport
necessities of the British, had been forced to concentrate its
activities at Bordeaux, the ancient port of the Gascogne country. The
ship crossed the bar at the uncomfortable hour of three in the morning,
and the Red Cross party first realized the fact that in army life night
hours and day hours are all the same, when it was ordered to arise at
once and face the customs and the passport inspectors. That inspection
was slow work, yet not delaying. For the Gironde runs to the sea many
miles after it passes the curving quay and the two great bridges of
Bordeaux. The fact that the _Lorraine_ was able to reach the quay well
before noon was due not only to her being a good ship but to the fact
that she had both wind and tide in her favor.

At fifteen minutes before twelve she docked and the Red Cross party
faced the city of Bordeaux, flat yet not unimpressive, with the same
graceful quay, the trees, and the old houses lining it, and in the
distance the lofty spires of the lovely cathedral, with the even loftier
spire of St. Michel in the farther distance. Even the uninitiated might
see upon this last the complications of a wireless station and
understand that here was one of the posts from which France spake far

It is but a night's ride from Bordeaux to Paris, even though it is close
to four hundred miles between the two cities. That very evening Major
Murphy and his party boarded the night train of the Orléans Railway for
the capital, and had their first real touch of war's hardships. The
night train was very crowded. It is nearly always crowded. It was then
running a solitary sleeping car, but two or three of the older members
of the party were able to get reservations. Still other fortunate ones
were able to obtain seats. The rest of the party stood throughout the
tiresome journey of twelve long hours. Major Murphy himself stood the
entire night, akimbo over the prostrate body of a groaning, snoring
_poilu_, yet was the first to be ready at the Gare d'Orsay on the
morrow; to be here, there, and everywhere seeing that all were provided
with proper hotel accommodations. After which he forged through the
crowd to the Crillon, there to meet the hero of the day coming to Paris
with "Papa Joffre"--and, like himself, every inch an American. After
which again it was in order to repair to the American Relief Clearing
House in the Rue François Premier to prepare directly for the big job
now so close at hand.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have described the voyage of this first Red Cross party overseas, not
only because it was the first, but also because it was so very typical
of many others to follow. Many and many a Red Cross man and Red Cross
woman, to say nothing of veritable hosts of doughboys and their
officers, had their first glimpse of lovely France as they sailed up the
broad Gironde and into that lovely port of Bordeaux. The curving quay,
the spires of the lovely cathedral, and the more distant but higher
spire of St. Michel was the picture that greeted thousands of them. At
least hundreds of them rode in the night train of the Orléans Railway to
Paris, and in all probability stood the entire distance. For traveling
in France in the days of the Great War was hard whether by train or by

Before I am done with this book I am going to describe the Atlantic
crossing of one of the final Red Cross parties. I belonged to one of
those parties myself and so am able to write from first-hand knowledge.
But between the original expedition and the one in which I sailed were
many others; others of far greater import. For our Uncle Samuel was
aroused, and, once aroused, and having resolved that having entered the
great fight he would give his all, if necessary, toward its winning, he
began pouring overseas not only his fighting legions but his armies of
relief, of which the Red Cross is part and parcel.



At No. 5 Rue François Premier stood the American Relief Clearing House.
It was a veritable lighthouse, a tower of strength, if you please, to an
oppressed and suffering people. To its doors came the offerings of a
friendly folk overseas who needed not the formal action of their
Congress before their sympathies and their purse-strings were to be
touched, but who were given heartfelt American response almost before
the burning of Louvain had been accomplished. And from those doors
poured forth that relief, in varied form, but with but one object, the
relief of suffering and misery.

Until the coming of the American Red Cross and its kindred
organizations, this Clearing House was to Paris--to all France, in
fact--almost the sole expression of the real sentiment of the United
States. It was organized, and well organized, with a definite purpose;
on the one hand the avoidance of useless duplications and overlappings,
to say nothing of possible frictions, and upon the other the heartfelt
desire to accomplish the largest measure of good with means that were
not always too ample despite the desire of the folk who were executing
them. More than this, the American Relief Clearing House had a practical
purpose in endeavoring to meet the everyday problems of transportation
of relief supplies. This phase of its work we shall see again when we
consider the organization of the transportation department of the
American Red Cross in France. It is enough to say here and now that it
possessed a very small number of trucks and touring cars which were
worked to their fullest possibilities, and seemingly even beyond, in
the all but vain effort to keep abreast of the incoming relief supplies.

In fact the American Relief Clearing House in its largest endeavors was
in reality a forwarding agency and, although possessing no large
transportation facilities of its own, made large use of existing
commercial agencies and those of the governments of the Allies, to
forward its relief supplies to their destination; whereupon it advised
America not only of the receipt of these supplies but of the uses to
which they were put. The main framework of the organization consisted of
a staff of clerks who kept track of the movements of shipments and who
saw to it that no undue delay occurred in their continuous transit from
sender to recipient.

J. H. Jordain was the chief operating manager of this Clearing House,
while Oscar H. Beatty was its Director-General. Closely affiliated with
the success of the enterprise were Herman H. Harjes, the Paris
representative of a great New York banking house, a man whom we shall
find presently at the head of one of the great ambulance relief works
which preceded the coming of the American Red Cross, J. Ridgely Carter,
James R. Barbour, and Ralph Preston. Mr. Preston crossed to France on
the _Lorraine_ with the preliminary party of survey and was of very
great help at the outset in the formation of its definite plans.

The most dramatic feature perhaps of the American Relief Clearing House
was the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Service, which was closely affiliated
with it. This organization was founded in the early days of 1914 by two
men, each acting independently of the other, who, by personal influence
and a great amount of individual activity, succeeded in forming
ambulance sections of the French Army maintained by American funds and
manned by American boys and nurses who could not wait for the formal
action of their government before flinging themselves into Europe's
great war for world democracy. These two sections first were known as
_Sections Sanitaire Nu. 5_ and _Nu. 6_ of the French Army. At a later
day it was found better policy, as well as more convenient and more
economical, to merge these two sections. This was done, and the merged
sections became known more or less formally as the Norton-Harjes
Ambulance Service.

At the time of the arrival of the American Red Cross in France this
organization actually had in the field five sections of twenty cars
each, two men to a car and two officers to a section. The men who
offered themselves for this work were all volunteers and were, for the
most part, college graduates and men of a disposition to give themselves
to work of this sort. A spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial was
represented everywhere within the ranks of the organization. To have
been identified with the Norton-Harjes service is to this day a mark of
distinction comparable even with that of the ribbon of the _Croix de

The Red Cross in the United States, long before our actual entrance into
France, had been helping this service with both money and supplies. It
was quite natural therefore that it should take over this unit, which
immediately assumed the name of the American Red Cross Ambulance
Service. Between that time and the day on which responsibility for
ambulance transport was taken over by the American Army, it organized,
equipped and put in service eight additional sections. Before
disbanding, the number of men had been brought to over six hundred, five
hundred and fifty of them at the front and the remainder in training

A third facility of the American Relief Clearing House which is worthy
of passing note was the American Distributing Service, organized and
financed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Bliss of our embassy in Paris. It was
first put in operation to furnish supplies to French hospitals
throughout and behind the fighting areas. It operated a small warehouse
in which many specialties--surgical instruments for a particular
instance--were received and in due turn distributed.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a short time after the arrival of the first Commission from America,
the possibility of affiliating the American Red Cross with the Clearing
House was seriously considered. It became quite evident, however, that
this would not be a feasible plan, but that the American Red Cross, just
beginning to come into the fullness of its strength as a war-time
organization, in order to attain its fullness of efficiency, would have
to become the dominating factor of relief in France. This meant that the
short but useful career of the American Relief Clearing House would have
to be ended and its identity lost in that of the larger and older
organization. This was done. The plant and the equipment and personnel
as well of the Clearing House were formally turned over to the Red Cross
Commission and its first headquarters offices established there in the
Rue François Premier, while Mr. Beatty's title changed from
Director-General of the Clearing House to that of Chief Executive
Officer of the American Red Cross in France.

The offices in the Rue François Premier almost immediately were found
too small for the greatly enlarged activities of the Red Cross, and so
the large building on the corner of the Place de la Concorde and the Rue
Royale, known as No. 4 Place de la Concorde, was engaged as
headquarters. These premises were rented through Ralph Preston for
$25,000 a year and, although it was not so known at the time, this
rental was paid by Mr. Preston out of his own pocket as his personal
contribution to the work of the American Red Cross. Seemingly the new
quarters were large indeed; yet what a task awaited the secretary when
he was compelled to install a force of three hundred people in
eighty-six rooms! The executive of modern business demands his flat-top
desk, his push buttons, his letter files, his stenographer, his
telephone, and "Number Four" was a club building--originally a palace
with crystal chandeliers and red carpets and high ceilings and all the
things that go ordinarily to promote luxury and comfort, but do not go
very far toward promoting business efficiency.

Yet the thing was managed, and for a time managed very well indeed. But
as the work of our Red Cross in France progressed, "Number Four" grew
too small, and from time to time various overflow, or annex offices were
established near by in the Rue Bossy d'Anglais, the Avenue Gabriel, and
the Rue de l'Elysée.

Yet in time these, too, were found insufficient. The army and the navy
in France kept growing, and with them, and ahead of them, the work of
the American Red Cross. Moreover, it was found in many ways most
unsatisfactory to have the work of a single headquarters scattered under
so many different roofs. So in June, 1918, these many Red Cross
activities were brought under a single roof. With the aid of the French
government authorities it was enabled to lease the six-story Hotel
Regina on the Place de Rivoli and directly across from the Louvre. Into
this far more commodious building was moved the larger portion of the
American Red Cross offices in Paris, with the exception of the
headquarters of the northeastern zone, which remained for a little
longer time at No. 4 Place de la Concorde. Upon the signing of the
armistice and the appointment of the American Commission to Negotiate
Peace, the United States government, through the French, requisitioned
both No. 4 Place de la Concorde and the Hotel Crillon for its peace
headquarters. The headquarters of the northeastern zone of the Red
Cross, much smaller with the coming of peace, were moved into the upper
floor of the Hotel Regina.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the meantime there were many, many changes in the American Red Cross
in France other than those of mere location. Major Grayson M.-P. Murphy
resigned as head of the French Commission early in September, 1917,
leaving behind him a record for expertness and efficiency that has
never been beaten. He was, in reality, merely borrowed from the United
States Army, and to that organization, which then stood badly in need of
both expertness and efficiency, he was returned, while his place as
captain of our American Red Cross overseas was taken by one of his
associates, Major James H. Perkins. Later this Red Cross chief attained
the army rank of lieutenant colonel; yet with Perkins, rank did not
count so very much at the best. To most of his fellow workers he was
known as Major Perkins; yet, to many of them, "Jim Perkins" was the
designation given to this much-loved American Red Cross officer. For if
Major Murphy left behind him a splendid reputation for expertness and
efficiency, Major James H. Perkins left his monument in Paris in the
great affection which he gained in the hearts and minds of each of his
associates. He won the love and respect of every man and woman in the
organization. For here was a real man; a man who, if you please,
preferred to gain loyalty--the quality so extremely necessary to any
successful organization, whether of war time or of peace--through his
own personality, his kindliness, and his fairness rather than by the
authority vested in his office.

"It is impossible to exaggerate the whole-heartedness which Major
Perkins gave to the upbuilding of our work here (France)," wrote Henry
P. Davison, chairman of the War Council of the Red Cross at the time
when the army, following its example in the case of Major Grayson M-P.
Murphy, reached out and demanded Major Perkins's services for itself. He

"We can understand the appeal that the army service makes to him, but we
greatly regret the loss of his guidance and association. Whatever we
have accomplished or may accomplish, it must never be forgotten that
Major Perkins and Major Murphy were the pioneers who showed the way, who
interpreted in practical fashion the desire of a whole nation to help
through the Red Cross in the greatest cause to which a people ever gave
their hearts and their resources. They, and we who carry forward the
work of the Red Cross, will always be keenly sensible of what we owe to
the energy, resourcefulness, and devotion which Major Perkins put into
the task of developing from its beginning the mission of the Red Cross
in the war."

And while I am quoting, perhaps I can do no better than to quote from a
report of Major Perkins, himself, in which he summed up the work of the
American Red Cross after its first year in France. He wrote:

"It is impossible for any one who has not had the experience of the last
year in France to realize the difficulties which stood in the way of
organizing an enormous quasi business, quasi relief organization;
personnel was hard to get from America, supplies were hard to get,
transportation was almost impossible, the mail service was bad and the
telephone service was worse; but in spite of all these troubles the
spirit with which the men of the organization undertook everything,
carried things through in the most wonderful manner."

Spirit! That was Major Jim Perkins. His was a rare spirit; and the Red
Cross men who had the pleasure and the opportunity of working under and
with him will testify as to that. Spirit was one of the big things that
made this captain of the Red Cross in the months when the difficulties
of its task overseas were at high-water mark carry forward so very well
indeed. Another was his rare breadth of vision. He, himself, still loves
to quote an old French priest, whose parish children had been greatly
helped by the work of our Red Cross among them.

"The American Red Cross is something new in the world," once wrote this
venerable curé. "Never before has any nation in time of war sought to
organize a great body to bind up the wounds of war, not only of its own
soldiers but of the soldiers and peoples of other nations. Never before
has so great a humanitarian work been undertaken or the idea in such
terms conceived, and the result will be greater than any of us can now

So it was that Major Jim Perkins "saw big"--much larger, perhaps, than
some of his associates at the time when the press of conflict was hard
upon all of them. Some of these might have thought his plans large or
even visionary; one or two frankly expressed themselves to that effect.
Yet these were the very men who, when the Perkins ideas came into use,
saw that they did not overshoot the mark.

It was under the régime of this Red Cross captain that the American Red
Cross established a service to the French army in the form of canteens,
hospitals, supplies, and money donations that led many of its commanders
as well as several prominent French statesmen to remark that its steps
along these lines were of inestimable value in maintaining the morale of
the _poilu_ and so in the final winning of the war. In later chapters of
this book we shall describe in some detail the first canteen efforts of
our Red Cross in France, and find how they were given to the faithful
little men whose horizon blue uniform has come to designate tenacity and
dogged purpose.

One of the very typical actions of the Military Affairs Department under
Major Perkins was the help given to General Pétain's army, which had
suffered acutely. His assistance came at a time which rendered it of
double value to the French commander. In fact that was a trait of very
real genius that Major Perkins displayed again and again throughout his
management of the Red Cross--the knack of extending the aid of his
organization at a time when its work would be of the greatest assistance
to the winning of the war. In fact, it was upon his shoulders that there
fell the task of directing our American Red Cross in meeting its two
greatest military emergencies--the great German offensive in the Somme
in March, 1918, and the bitter fighting in and about Château-Thierry
some four months later. The official records of both the French and the
American armies teem with communications of commendation for the efforts
of the American Red Cross on those two memorable occasions.

[Illustration: SO THIS IS PARIS
A. E. F. Boys, guests of our A. R. C. in its great hospital at St.
Cloud, look down about the "Queen City of the World"]

Once in stating his policy in regard to the direction of the Red Cross
Department of Military Affairs, of which he had been chief before
succeeding Major Murphy as Commissioner to France, Major Perkins laid
down his fundamental principles of work quite simply: they were merely
to find and to develop the quickest and most effective way of helping
the soldiers of the allied armies, and, particularly in the case of the
United States Army, to put the Red Cross at the full service of every
individual in it, not only in succoring the wounded but in making a
difficult life as comfortable as was humanely possible for the well, and
to perform these duties in the most economical and effective manner

Here was a platform broad and generous, and, with the greatest armies
that the world in all its long centuries of fighting has ever known,
affording opportunities so vast as to be practically limitless. One
might have thought that in a war carried forward on so unprecedented and
colossal a scale that the Red Cross--or, for that matter, any other
relief organization--might have found its fullest opportunity in a
single activity. But seemingly that is not the Red Cross way of doing
things. And in this particular war its great and dominating American
organization was forever seeking out opportunities for service far
removed from its conventional activities of the past, and of the things
that originally might have been expected of it. Count so much for its

Consider, for instance, its activities in the field with the American
Army--we also shall consider these in greater detail farther along in
the pages of this book. The field service of the Red Cross in
France--the distribution of such homely and needed man creature comforts
as tobacco and toilet articles to the troopers in the trenches or close
behind them--was a work quite removed from that started by women such as
Florence Nightingale or Clara Barton. But who shall rise to say that, in
its way, it was not nearly if not quite as essential?

It was this field service that Major Perkins inaugurated, then urged,
and, in its earliest phases, personally directed. In addition he had
charge of the first developments of the canteen or outpost services at
the front. This consisted of the establishment of more or less permanent
stations by the Red Cross as close to the front-line trenches as was
either practicable or permissible. Open both day and night, these
outposts took, at night under the cover of darkness, hot drinks and
comforts to the men holding the trenches and at all hours took care of
them as they came and went to and from the lines of advanced fighting.

When, slowly but surely, the American Army began to be a formidable
combat force in France, the already great problems of Major Perkins were
vastly increased. Up to that time the allied soldiers had been receiving
the bulk of the assistance of our Red Cross. Now the balance of the work
had to be changed and its preponderance swung toward our own army. Yet
Perkins did not forget the grateful words and looks of thanks that he
had received so many, many times from the _poilus_ and all of their

"Not less for the French, but more for the Americans," he quietly
announced as his policy.

So it was done, and so continued. The sterling qualities of leadership
that this man had shown from the first in the repeated times of great
stress and emergency stood him in good stead. He already had instilled
into the hearts and souls of the men and women who worked with him that
consecration of purpose and enthusiasm for the work in hand which
rendered so many of them, under emergency, supermen and superwomen. I
have myself a high regard for organization. But I do believe that
organization, without the promptings of the human heart to soften as
well as to direct it, is as nothing. How often have we heard of the man
with the hundred-thousand-dollar mind and the two-cent heart. And how
well we all know the fate that eventually confronts him.

To Harvey D. Gibson, who succeeded him as Commissioner to France in the
summer of 1918, Major Perkins turned over an organization whose heart
was as big as its mind, and then wended his own way toward the army,
where he repeated so many of his successes in the Red Cross. But, as we
have said, left behind him in this last organization enduring memorials
of great affection.

Eventually there came other big chiefs of our American Red Cross in
France. Colonel Gibson returned to the United States in March, 1919,
with the satisfaction of having done a thorough job thoroughly. He was
succeeded by Colonel George H. Burr, as big-hearted and as broad in
vision as Perkins. At the same time that Burr came to the seat of
command in Paris, Colonel Robert E. Olds, whom Gibson had brought to
Paris, became Commissioner for Europe. Between Burr and Olds there was
the finest sort of teamwork. The period in which they worked was far
from an easy one. With the armistice more than three months past, with
the constantly irritating and unsettling effect of the Peace Conference
upon Paris and all who dwelt within her stout stone walls, with the mad
rush of war enthusiasts to get back to the peace days in the homeland,
with the strain and overwork of long months of the conflict finally
telling upon both bodies and nerves, the necessity of maintaining the
_morale_ of the Red Cross itself, to say nothing of the men it served,
was urgent. The dramatic phases of the work were gone. So was the glory.
There remained simply the huge problem of orderly demobilization, of
bringing the structure down to its original dimensions. A job much more
easily said than done; but one that was done and done very well indeed.

We have digressed from the days of the war. Return once again to them.
In all that time there were many, many changes in our American Red Cross
in Paris--one might fairly say, "of course." Men came and men went and
plans and quarters were changed with a fair degree of frequency. But far
more men--women, too--came than went, and moving days and plan changings
grew farther and farther apart; for here was a definite and consistent
planning and upbuilding of organization. If there is any one material
thing upon which we Americans pride ourselves to-day more than another
it is upon our ability to upbuild our efficiency through organization.
And I think it is but fair to say if it had not been thoroughly
organized much of the effort of the American Red Cross in France would
have been lost. Commissions and commissioners might come and commissions
and commissioners might go, but the plan of organization stood, and was
at all times a great factor in the success of the work overseas.

       *       *       *       *       *

The original plan of organization was simple. It did not, in the first
instance, comprehend more than a Commissioner for Europe, with the bare
possibility of other commissioners being appointed for the separate
countries--if there should be found to be sufficient need for them. With
the Commissioner for Europe was to be directly affiliated an advisory
council, a bureau of legal advice and general policy, and various
administrative bureaus and standing committees. The chief plan of the
organization, however, divided the work of the American Red Cross in
Europe into two great divisions: the one a department of civil affairs,
which would undertake relief work for the civilian population of France,
which in turn embraced the feeding, housing, and education of refugees,
_répatries, réformes, and mutilés_, reconstruction and rehabilitation
work in the devastated districts, and both direct and coöperative work
in the cure and prevention of tuberculosis; and the other the
department of military affairs, which undertook, as its province,
military hospitals, diet kitchens, relief work for the armies of the
Allies, medical and surgical and prisoners' information bureaus, medical
research and nursing and hospital supply and surgical dressings
services, canteens, rest stations and infirmaries, nurses' homes,
movable kitchens, and the relief of _mutilés_. It is of the work of this
latter department as it affected the boys of our army in France that
this book is written.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before Major Murphy, the first American Red Cross Commissioner to
France, had proceeded very far with his work, he found that he would
have further to divide and subdivide its activities. In connection with
his deputy, Major James H. Perkins, he held several conferences with
General Pershing who, day by day, was becoming better acquainted with
the situation and the opportunities it offered. General Pershing stated
quite frankly that in all probability it would be many months before his
army would be an effective fighting force and that the Red Cross must,
during those months, carry the American flag in Europe.

The first organization scheme comprehended several American commissions
for the various countries in the zones of military activities, each
independent of the other, but all in turn reporting to the Commissioner
for Europe at Paris, who was responsible only to the War Council of the
Red Cross at Washington. As a matter of actual and chronological fact
the Commission to Belgium antedated the coming of the first Red Cross
party to France. Long before even that stormy and historic April evening
when the United States formally declared war upon the Kaiser and all the
things for which the Kaiser stood, the American Red Cross was in Europe,
helping to feed and clothe and comfort ravished Belgium. And its
Commissioner ranked only second in importance to Herbert C. Hoover, who
was in entire charge of the situation for America.

So, with its activities increasing, the Red Cross further divided its
work. In the fall of 1917, Major Perkins became Commissioner for France
and a short time afterwards separate commissioners were appointed for
Great Britain, for Italy, for Switzerland, for Belgium, and for other
countries. And these in turn appointed their own individual
organizations, complete structures erected for business efficiency and
to get a big job done quickly and well.

All this sounds simple, but it was not; for it is one thing to
accomplish business organization, and accomplish it quickly, here at
home in a land which has barely been touched by the ravages of war and
not at all by invasion, and quite another to set up such a structure in
a land shell-shocked and nerve-racked and man-crippled by four years of
war and actual invasion. Poor France! The war smote hard upon her. By
the time that the Murphy Commission reached her shores she had even
abandoned the smiling mask which she had tried to carry through the
earliest months of the conflict. In Paris the streets were deserted. By
day one might see an omnibus, or might not. Occasionally an ancient taxi
carriage drawn by an ancient horse, too decrepit for service of any sort
at the front, might be encountered. By night the scene was dismal
indeed. Few street lights were burning--there was a great scarcity of
coal and street lights meant danger from above, from the marauding raids
of the great airships of the _boche_. The few street lamps that were
kept alight as a matter of safety and great necessity had their globes
smeared with thick blue paint and were but faint points of light against
the deep blackness of the night. So that when the glad day of armistice
finally came and the street lights blazed forth again--if not in their
old-time brilliancy at least in a comparative one--Paris referred to the
hour as the one of her "unbluing."

The difficulties of obtaining materials, even such simple office
materials as books and blanks and paper, to say nothing of typewriters
and the more complicated paraphernalia, the problem of service of every
sort--clerical, stenographic, telephone, repair--can easily be imagined.
There were times when to an ordinary business man they would have seemed
insurmountable; but the Red Cross is not an ordinary business man. It
moves under inspiration--inspiration and the need of the moment. And so
it does not long permit difficulties, either usual or abnormal, to block
its path.

To reduce all of this to organization was a distinct and difficult
problem. Our Red Cross which had jumped into the French civilian and
military situation while it awaited the coming of the first troops from
America, first organized in practically the only way that it was
possible for it to organize. It found men in big jobs--some of those
very activities that we found more or less correlated in the work of the
American Relief Clearing House--and told other men to take other big
jobs and work them out in their own way.

This was far from ideal organization, of course. It meant much
duplication and overlapping of functional work--in purchasing, in
transportation, personnel, and the like. But it was the only sort of
organization that was possible at first, and for a considerable time
afterward. By the fall of 1917, when Commissioner Perkins had settled
down to the details of his big new job and was ready to take up the
reorganization of the Red Cross activities in France, there came the
great drive of the Austrians and the Germans against the Italian front,
with the direct result that the American Red Cross organization in Paris
was called upon to bend every effort toward rushing whole trainloads of
workers and supplies southward toward Italy. And in the spring of 1918
came the last great drive of the Germans in France--that supreme hour
when disaster hung in the very air and the fate of the democracy of the
world wavered.

Yet the first half of 1918 was not entirely spun into history before
the Red Cross in France was beginning its reorganization. The third
Commissioner for France, Harvey D. Gibson, had been appointed and by
June was on his way to Paris. One of the first of the huge tasks that
awaited him--for it then seemed as if the war was to last for years
instead of but four or five months longer--was this very problem of
reorganization. Without delay he set upon it, and with the help of his
Deputy Commissioner and assistant, George Murnane, evolved an entirely
new plan, which gave far larger opportunities for the development of the
American Red Cross in France and was, in fact, so simple and so logical
in its workings as to become the permanent scheme of organization.

Let me emphasize and reiterate: the old plan, with its two great
separate departments of military and civilian affairs, was not only not
essentially a bad plan, but it was the only plan possible with the
conditions of great stress and strain under which our Red Cross began
its operations in France. But it was quickly outgrown. It did not and
could not measure up to the real necessities of the situation.

"The double program of the Red Cross, under two large departments of
military and civilian affairs," wrote Elizabeth Shipley Sergeant, of
this older plan in _The New Republic_, "... followed a good Red Cross
tradition and seemed to be based on a genuine separation of the problems
involved. The great crisis in France a year ago was a civilian crisis,
and the distinguished American business men who directed the Red Cross
were wise enough to associate with themselves specialists in social
problems and to give them a free hand. The chiefs of the military
bureau, some of whom, like the doctors, were also specialists, had no
less a free hand. Indeed the situation was so complex and the
necessities were so immediate that every bureau chief and every field
delegate was practically told to go ahead and do his utmost. The result
was great vitality, great enthusiasm, genuine accomplishment...."

In the twelve months that the American Red Cross had been established
in France its work had multiplied many, many times; in but six months
the size of the American Army there had quadrupled, and the end was by
no means in sight. To plan an organization that would measure up to meet
such vast growth and meet it adequately was no child's play.

To begin with, he decided that the great functional workings, such as
those of which we have just spoken--transportation, supplies, personnel,
construction, and the like--should be centralized in Paris and the great
duplications and overlappings of the old system avoided. This, in turn,
thrust far too great responsibilities and far too much detail upon those
same Paris headquarters. So in turn he took from it its vast overload
and divided the organization into nine zones, of which more in good
time. If these zone organizations had been situated in the United States
instead of in France it is quite possible that the functional activities
might have been very largely concentrated at their several headquarters.
For in our own land such things as personnel, transportation, supplies,
and construction could be readily obtained at headquarters
points--Boston, New York, Chicago, New Orleans, or San Francisco, for
instance. In France they not only were not readily obtainable, but
rarely obtainable at any cost or any trouble. Think of the difficulties
of obtaining either motor trucks or canteen workers which confronted the
zone manager at Neufchâteau, just back of the big front line! It was
well that the plan of organization under which he worked provided
definitely he was to requisition Paris for such supplies--human or
material--and that in turn Paris might draw upon the great resources of

Such in brief was the plan. It was simplicity itself; yet was builded to
measure to the necessities of the situation. And so it did measure--to
the necessities of the situation. Time and experience proved that; also
they proved the value of central bureaus, but did not segregate them as
before under the separate headings of Military and Civilian. Instead
there proved necessary seven "functional departments"--to be responsible
for plans and programs and instructions for carrying on the work. The
directors of those seven departments served as assistants to the
administrative head of the American Red Cross, the Commissioner to
France. Considering him as the commander in chief and his seven
directors as his staff officers, the Red Cross in France began to take
on a distinctly military form.

The seven departments were as follows:

    Department of Requirements: Bureau of Supplies; Transportation;
    Personnel; Permits and Passes; Construction; Manufacture.

    Medical and Surgical Department: Bureau of Hospital
    Administration; Tuberculosis and Public Health; Children's
    Bureau; Reëducation and Reconstruction; Nurses.

    Medical Research and Intelligence Department.

    Department of Army and Navy Service: Bureau of Canteens; Home
    and Hospital Service; Outpost Service; Army Field Service.

    Department of General Relief: Bureau of Refugees; Soldiers'
    Families; War Orphans; Agriculture.

    Department of French Hospitals.

    Department of Public Information.

So much for the general, or staff, organization. It covered, of course,
all France. Yet for practical operations France was divided into nine
great geographical zones which in turn were subdivided into districts.
Each zone possessed its own warehouses and supply and transportation
organization, and in each the entire operating organization came under a
single head, the Zone Manager, whose responsibility for his own
particular area was similar to that of the Commissioner's authority for
all France. The Zone Manager had on his staff representatives of any of
the headquarters departments which might function in his area.

The scheme was simple, and it worked. Correspondence was free between
headquarters at Paris and the individual workers in the field, but
copies of all instructions were also sent to the Zone Managers--in some
cases to district managers also--so that they might be properly informed
and all the operations coördinated.

The nine zones of military operations with their headquarters were as

    Northern                   Havre
    Northwestern               Brest
    Western              St. Nazaire
    Southwestern            Bordeaux
    Southern              Marseilles
    North Intermediate         Tours
    South Intermediate         Lyons
    Northeastern               Paris
    Eastern              Neufchâteau

Now consider, if you will, the workings of the seven great central
bureaus, in so far at least as they concern the province of this book.
The scheme for the Department of Requirements, as you may see from the
table that I have just given, included not only the Bureau of Supplies,
Transportation, Construction, and Manufacture--which we will consider in
separate chapters--and Permits and Passes, but a section of General
Insurance, to be responsible for all insurance matters except life
insurance for Red Cross workers, which fell within the province of the
Bureau of Personnel. The Medical and Surgical Department had its
functions definitely outlined. It was stated that it was to be in charge
of all the medical and surgical problems of the American Red Cross in
France (except those specifically assigned to the Medical Research and
Intelligence Department); that it was to formulate policies and to
undertake a general supervision of medical and surgical activities.
Moreover, it was to maintain the necessary contact with the United
States Army and Navy authorities, so that the Red Cross could be
prepared to render prompt service in the event of medical or surgical
emergencies. It was to be responsible for the determination of all
medical and surgical American Red Cross standards; for decisions
regarding supplies and manufactures for medical and surgical purposes;
and for judgment regarding medical requisition. These things were set
down with great exactness, and it was well that they should be; for the
position of the Red Cross in regard to the medical departments of both
the army and the navy has ever been a delicate as well as an intricate
and helpful one. So it was, too, that it was determined that each of the
nine zone organizations should include a Medical and Surgical Department
representative who should report to the Zone Manager and be responsible
for executing for him all the medical and surgical instructions received
from headquarters as well as for the study and development of medical
and surgical opportunities within the zone. It was further set down that
this zone representative should be in charge of Red Cross hospital
administration within its territory and should direct its operations at
the American Red Cross hospitals, dispensaries, infirmaries,
convalescent homes, and all similar activities.

The work of the Army and Navy Department also was expanded in great
detail. And, inasmuch as all of its work comes so closely within the
province of this book, I shall follow some of that detail. For instance,
the plan of its organization set down not only the Bureaus of Canteens,
the Home and Hospital Service, Outpost Service and Army Field Service,
but also laid down the definite plans of action to be followed by each
of these bureaus. Starting with the first of them, the Bureau of
Canteens was to be responsible, through the zone organizations, for the
development of this service--always so dear to the heart of the
doughboy--throughout all France, for the inspection of its operations
including reviews of its operating costs and for all activities
regarding plans for the supplies, construction, and equipment of the
canteens. The Headquarters Bureau of this work at Paris was to develop
instructions and formulate policies for the operation of these stations,
but in the zones their actual operation was to fall under the
jurisdiction of the local representatives of the Army and Navy
Department who in turn, of course, reported direct to the Zone Manager
controlling supplies and transportation movement in and out of the

The Bureau of Home and Hospital Service was divided into three
sections--great sections because of the vastness of the work that it
might be called upon to perform for an army of two million, or perhaps
even four million men. These were the Home Communication Section, the
Home Service Section, and the Section of General Service at Military
Hospitals. The task of the first of these sections--which presently we
shall see amplified--was to obtain and transmit to the United States or
to authorized army and navy officials in France and also to relatives in
the United States, such information as might possibly be obtained in
regard to dead, wounded, missing, or prisoner American soldiers or
sailors. It was to be supplemental to and not in duplication of the
service of the quartermaster of the United States Army. As a part of its
work the section was to render aid in registering and photographing the
graves of our soldiers and sailors.

At headquarters in Paris the work of the Home Communication Section was
to be concerned with general executive direction, the determination of
policies, the issuance of instructions, and the actual transcribing and
forwarding of the reports to America. In the zones its activities were
brought under the zone Army and Navy Bureau. Its actual work was planned
to be conducted through searchers in the field, in camps, and in

The Home Service work, while in a sense similar to that of the Home
Communication Section, in another sense was quite the reverse. For while
the first of these two services concerned itself with supplying the
anxious mother back home with information regarding the boy from whom
she had not heard for so long a time, it was the task of the Home
Service also, through its representatives in the field, camps, or in
hospitals (in many instances the selfsame representatives as those of
the Home Communication) so far as possible to relieve the anxieties of
soldiers regarding affairs at home.

The third section of the Home and Hospital Service bore the rather
imposing title of Section of General Service at Military Hospitals. Its
task was to assist in furnishing medical and surgical supplies to army
and navy hospitals in accordance with the plans of the Medical and
Surgical Department, to distribute general comforts to our sick and
wounded, to erect and operate recreation huts at the hospitals, and even
to develop gardens at the hospitals for furnishing fresh vegetables to
patients--a part of the program which, because of the sudden ending of
the war, was never quite realized. Furthermore, the work of this Section
contemplated the operation of nurses' homes and huts. All of these
activities were to be under the chief representative at the hospital
whose task it was to correlate and direct all the operations.

Alongside of Home and Hospital Service in the army and navy stood the
Bureaus of Outpost Service and of Army Field Service. In the plan for
the first of these, the American Red Cross would endeavor to maintain at
as many points as was consistently possible outposts at which supplies
would be kept and comforts and necessities distributed to men in the
line. From these points, as well as from points even in advance of their
locations, emergency sustenance and comforts were to be given men at
advanced dressing stations and at every other point along the front
where our troops might actually be reached.

In the Army Field Service, the American Red Cross was to have, with each
army division, a representative to coöperate with the Army Medical Corps
to furnish supplementary medical and surgical supplies, to distribute
supplies and comforts to troops, to perform such canteen service as was
possible in emergencies, and for a general coöperation with the men
working in the Home Communication and the Home services.

       *       *       *       *       *

If I have taken much of your time with the rather lengthy details of
this final war-time plan of organization of the American Red Cross in
France, it is because one cannot well understand the results of a great
machine such as it became--with more than six thousand uniformed workers
in the field, the hospitals, the canteens, and the headquarters of
France--without looking a little bit beneath its hoodings and its
coverings and seeing something of the actual working of its mechanism.

I like, myself, to think first of the Red Cross in its vast humanitarian
aspects; and yet the business side of the great organization, so far as
I have had the opportunity of seeing into it, has fascinated me. To go
behind the scenes of the greatest helping hand of all time and there see
system, precision, and order, is a mighty privilege. The Headquarters
building of the American Red Cross in the city of Washington is a
monumental structure--an architectural triumph in white marble, planned
as a great and enduring memorial long before the coming of the war. Even
in the busiest days of 1918 its beautiful and restful exterior gave
little evidence of the whirl of industry within and behind, for far to
the rear of the main Headquarters building, designed, as I have just
said, with no immediate thought of war, stretched great, plain emergency
buildings, each a hive of offices and each peopled with hundreds of
clerks, with desks and typewriters and telephones--all in coördination
and all a part of the paraphernalia that goes to the making of the cogs
and wheels and shafts and cylinders of the great modern machine of
business of to-day.

Behind this building there were many other such headquarters
structures--buildings here and there across the face of the United
States and in some of the great capitals of Europe--Paris, London, Rome,
Geneva, for instance. Of these, none more important, none busier than
the headquarters of the American Red Cross in France, in the six-storied
Hotel Regina, Paris, in its turn a veritable hive of offices and peopled
with more clerks, more desks, more typewriters, more telephones, and all
this paraphernalia coördinated as we have just seen, by modern and
detailed business system.

Again behind these headquarters buildings still others; concentration
warehouses in each of America's forty-eight states, to say nothing of
her Federal capital; warehouses at ports of embarkation; warehouses at
ports of debarkation; at central points in France, and points behind the
firing line; huts, canteens, in some cases entire hospitals, motor
trucks, camionettes, supplies in the hundreds of thousands of tons to go
from the warehouses into the camions and back again into the warehouses,
and ten thousand workers, six thousand in France alone. What a mess it
all would have been without a coördinated system, definitely laid down
and definitely followed!

To have builded such a machine, to have laid down so huge and so
definite a plan in the days before the war would seemingly have been a
matter of long years. But we now know that the Red Cross is an emergency
organization. In emergency it was developed--not in years, but in
months, nay, even in weeks.

"We had to build an organization--and operate it all the time that we
were building it," one of the Washington officers of the organization
once told me. "We had to start to get actual materials and supplies for
field relief work of every sort at the very hour and minute that we were
sending our first working commission to France and were struggling to
get a competent field relief organization. In every direction raw and
inexperienced human material confronted us. We were raw and
inexperienced ourselves. And yet, as we confronted the big problem and
turned it over between us, we saw light. We began to realize certain
definite things. We realized, for instance, that when we needed an
executive to supervise the turning out of many hundreds of millions of
hospital dressings, we did not, after all, need a nurse or a doctor, but
a man or a woman who had the experience or the technique to turn out
dressings in huge quantities. We needed an executive. We found such a
man in the person of a lumberman out in the Middle West. We brought him
to Washington and there he made good on the job."

These experiences were paralleled in Paris even through the
exigencies of the situation, the extreme emergency which at
all times confronted our Red Cross there, until the fateful
eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918
had been met and long since passed. It therefore was not always
possible to pick executives with such care and discrimination
as would be possible in the United States; in fact the best results
were obtained by the more or less firmly fixed method of finding the
personnel here--generally in response to definite cable requests from
Paris--and sending it to France, but not always. Occasionally the
reverse was true. Men already overseas were thrust quite unexpectedly
into posts of great trust and great responsibility--posts requiring
broad and instant initiative--and in those posts developed abilities
which they, themselves, had not realized they possessed.

In fact it is worth stating that the zone plan of organization
contemplated this very possibility, and so gave to each Zone Manager
great autonomy and freedom of action. In no other way would it have been
possible to obtain immediate and efficient results, particularly in a
war-beset land where communication of every sort, by train, by motor
car, by post, by telegraph, and by telephone, was so greatly
overburdened. The very autonomy of the final organization plan was
largely responsible for its success. It was one of the lubricants which
made the big business machine of the American Red Cross in France
function so well.

Have you ever stood beside a fairly complex machine--a linotype or a
silk loom or a paper machine, for instance--and after examining its
intricacy of cams and cogs and shafts, wondered how it turned out its
product with such precision and rapidity? So it is with the big business
machine of the American Red Cross. You might stand close to any one of
its many, many individual activities--the sewing room of a chapter house
here in the United States, a base hospital behind the front in France, a
transport receiving its medical supplies--and wonder truly at the
coördination of such huge activities; for they did coördinate. The big
machine functioned, and as a rule functioned very well indeed. And
because it did function so very well the largest single humanitarian
effort in the history of the world was carried forward to success with a
minimum of friction and loss of precious energy.

So much, if you please, for practical business methods in an
international emergency.



To attempt aid or comfort to a fighting army six hundred miles inland
from the coast without adequate transportation was quite out of the
question. Transportation, in fact and in truth, was the lifeblood of the
American Expeditionary Forces which began to debark at the Atlantic rim
of France before the summer of 1917 was well spent. It was the obvious
necessity of transportation that made it necessary for the War
Department of the United States to plan to operate an American railroad
system of some 6,000 miles of line--all told about equal to the length
of the Northern Pacific system--over certain designated portions of the
several French railway systems. Nothing was ever more true than the now
trite Napoleonic remark, that an "army travels on its stomach." The
imperial epigram about the progress of an army meant transportation, and
little else.

In other days in other wars the transport of the United States was in
the completely adequate hands of its Quartermaster General and its Corps
of Engineers. But in those days we fought our wars in North America. The
idea of an army of two million men--perhaps even four or five
million--fighting nearly four thousand miles away from the homeland was
quite beyond our conception. When that remote possibility became fact
the necessities of our transport multiplied a thousandfold. They swept
even beyond the capabilities of a Quartermaster General and a Chief of
Engineers who found their abilities sore-taxed in many other directions
than that of the water, the rail, and the highway movement of troops. It
became a job for railroad men, expert railroad men, the most expert
railroad men in the world. And where might railroad men be found more
expert than those of the United States of America?

Purposely I am digressing for the moment from the Red Cross's individual
problem of transport. I want you to see for an instant and in the
briefest possible fashion, the United States Military Railroad in
France, not alone because it must form the real and permanent background
of any study of the transportation of the American Red Cross--itself a
structure of no little magnitude--but also because in turn the Red Cross
was able to render a large degree of real service to the railroad
workers who had come far overseas from Collingwood or Altoona or Kansas
City to run locomotives or operate yards or unload great gray ships. No
Red Cross canteens have been of larger interest than those which sprung
up beside the tracks at Tours or Gièvres or Neufchâteau or St. Nazaire
or Bassens--all of these important operating points along the lines of
the United States Military Railroad in France.

To run this Yankee railroad across the land of the lily required, as
already I have intimated, expert railroad mentality. To head it no less
a man than W. W. Atterbury, operating vice-president of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, was chosen and given the rank of brigadier-general in charge
of the rail transport of the S. O. S., as the doughboy and commissioned
officers alike have come to know the Service of Supplies of the American
Expeditionary Forces. Around himself General Atterbury assembled a group
of practical railroaders, men whose judgment and experience long since
have placed them in the front rank of American transportation experts.
Among these were Colonel W. J. Wilgus, former engineering vice-president
of the New York Central system and the man who had made the first
studies of the necessities and the possibilities of the United States
Military Railroad in France; Colonel James A. McCrea, a son of the
former president of the Pennsylvania and himself general manager of the
Long Island Railroad at the time of our entrance into the war; Colonel
F. A. Delano, a one-time president of the Wabash, who left a
commissionership in the Federal Reserve Board to join the army, and
Colonel G. T. Slade, former vice-president of the Northern Pacific.
These men are only a few out of a fairly lengthy roster of our Yankee
railroad men in France. Yet they will serve to indicate the type of
personnel which operated our lines in France. It would not be fair to
close this paragraph without a reference to the patent fact that the
high quality of the personnel of the official staff of our Yankee
railroad overseas was fully reflected in the men of its rank and file.
These, too, were of the highest type of working railroaders, and to an
American who knows anything whatsoever about the railroads of his
homeland and the men who work upon them, more need not be said.

       *       *       *       *       *

The United States Military Railroad in France, it should clearly be
understood, was not a railroad system such as we build in America by
patient planning and toil and the actual upturning of virgin soil. While
many millions of dollars were expended in its construction, it was not,
after all, a constructed railroad. In any legal or corporation sense it
was not a railroad at all. It was in fact an adaptation of certain
lines--side lines wherever possible--of long-existent French railways.
To best grasp it, one must first understand that the greater part of
French rail transportation is divided into five great systems. Four of
these--the Nord, the Etat, the Paris-Lyons-Méditerranée, and the
Orléans--shoot many of their main stems out from the heart of Paris, as
the spokes of a wheel extend out from its hub. These spoke lines, if I
may be permitted the phrase, long since were greatly overburdened with
the traffic which arose from the vast army operations of the French, the
British, and the Belgians. The problem was to make the French railway
system bear upon its already much-strained back the additional
transport necessities of our incoming army of at least two million men
within the first twelve months of its actual operations.

Between the radiating spoke lines of the French railways leading out
from the great hub of the wheel at Paris is a network of smaller and
connecting lines, the most of them single-tracked, however. The whole
structure, in fact, greatly resembles a huge spider's web; far more so
than our own because of its more regular outlines. Colonel Wilgus and
Colonel William Barclay Parsons, the designer of the first New York
subway system, who accompanied him in the first inspection of the army
transportation problem in France, quickly recognized this spider's web.
And a little inspection showed them the great burden that its main
spokes already were carrying; convinced them of the necessity of using
other lines for the traffic of the American Army. For it was known even
then that in addition to carrying the men themselves there would have to
be some 50,000 tons a day transported an average distance of six hundred
miles for an army of two million men.

To strike across the spider's web! That was the solution of the problem.
Never mind if most of those cross-country connecting lines running at
every conceivable angle to the main spoke lines and in turn bisecting
the greater part of them, were for the most part single-tracked. Never
mind if, as they began to climb the hills of Eastern France which held
the eastern portions of the battle front--sectors assigned quite largely
to the Americans--they attained one per cent grade or better. In the
valley of the Loire where a good part of our military rail route would
be located there is the easiest and steadiest long-distance grade in all
France. With American ingenuity and American labor it would be
comparatively easy to double track the single-track lines and in some
cases even to lower the gradients, while, for that matter, the ingenuity
of American locomotive builders might rise quite easily to the problem
of producing an effective locomotive to overcome these one per cent

I have spoken of the valley of the Loire because almost from the
beginning it was chosen as the location of the chief main routes of the
United States Military Railroad in France. Necessity dictated that
location. It was both logical and efficient that the British should be
given the great Channel ports for their supply service of men and
munitions. Their endeavors so crowded Havre and Boulogne and Dieppe and
Calais and Cherbourg, to say nothing of the rail lines which serve these
ancient ports of the north of France, that they were out of the question
for any large movement of American forces, although, as we shall see in
good time, much Red Cross material, particularly in the early stages of
our participation in the war, did come through Havre.

The more distinctly American ports, however, were Brest, St. Nazaire, La
Rochelle, and Bordeaux, as well as the rapidly created emergency port at
Bassens, just across the Gironde from Bordeaux. All of these harbors are
on the west coast of France and give more or less directly in the
Atlantic Ocean itself. With the possible exception of Bordeaux, in
recent years they have been rather sadly neglected ports. That no longer
can be said, however, for within a space of time to be measured by weeks
and months rather than by years, they have become worthy of rank with
the most efficient harbors of the world. It was necessity that made them
so--the supreme necessity of the greatest war in history. So does the
black cloud of war sometimes have its silver lining of permanent

These were the ports that became the starting points of the two main
stems of the United States Military Railroad in France. Upon the great
docks and within the huge warehouses that sprang up seemingly overnight
were placed the constantly incoming loads of men and mules and horses
and food and guns and camionettes and tents and five-ton trucks--all
the seemingly endless paraphernalia of war. And from those docks and
from those warehouses moved at all hours of the day and night long
trains emptying them of all that same endless paraphernalia of war and
in the same good order as that in which it arrived. And these trains
were for the greater part of American-builded cars, hauled by
locomotives from the engine-building shops of Philadelphia or
Schenectady or Dunkirk and all operated by 75,000 expert railroaders,
picked and culled from every state of the Union.

I shall not attempt here to go into further detail of the operation of
our military railroad in France, although there is hardly a detail of it
that is not fascinating in the extreme. It is enough here and now to say
that it functioned; that our "contemptible army" wiped out the Saint
Mihiel salient in one day, and, what is perhaps far more important,
there were comparatively few instances where an American soldier went
for a day without his three good meals. If I were an artist I would like
to paint a picture for the beginning of this chapter. And because it was
for a book of Red Cross activities primarily, the painting would show
the operations of the United States Army Transport on land and water as
a huge motley of ships and trains and warehouses and cranes in a gray
monotone in the background; while in the foreground in gay array one
would find the motor trucks, the camionettes, and the touring cars of
the Red Cross's own transportation department.

       *       *       *       *       *

To that department we now have come fairly and squarely. And, lest you
should be tempted to dismiss it with a wave of the hand and a shoulder
shrug, let me ask if you have been a woman worker for the Red Cross
somewhere in our own beloved country, if you ever have given more than a
passing thought to the future of that gauze bandage that you made so
deftly and so quickly and so many, many times? Did you ever wonder what
became of the sweater, the helmet, or the wristlets which you knitted
with such patient care and patriotic fervor? Or that warm and woolen
gown which you took down from the closet hook with such a real sigh of
self-denial--it still was so pretty and so new? How was it to reach some
downhearted refugee of France?

It is comparatively easy to visualize the movement of the munitions of
war across the three thousand miles of Atlantic and six hundred miles of
France between our northeastern seaports and our front lines of
battle--powder and food and uniforms and even aëroplanes and locomotives
in giant crates. It perhaps is not quite as easy to trace, even in the
mind's eye, the vast passage of the steady output of the 20,000,000
pairs of patriotic hands from America to the boys at the front. It is a
vast picture; a huge canvas upon which is etched at first many fine
streams of traffic, gradually converging; forming rivulets, then rivers,
and finally a single mighty river which, if I may continue the allegory
without becoming too mixed in my metaphor, is carried overseas and
across the entire width of the French republic. Sometimes the swift
course of the river is checked for a time; the little still-water pools
and eddies are the concentration stations and warehouses in America; and
the other pools and eddies in France are where the precious relief
supplies are held for careful and equitable distribution.

To the streams that have poured out of the homes and the Chapter
workrooms that have supported the Red Cross so loyally and so royally,
must be added the great floods of traffic, of purchased raw materials
and supplies of every sort. Some of these last, like the output of the
home workshops, will go to the boys at the front practically unchanged.
But a considerable quantity will be filtered through huge Red Cross
workshops in Paris and other European cities, yet also goes forward to
the front-line trenches.

It is well enough to look for a time at this huge problem as a great
allegory or as a great picture; perhaps as one looks upon a great
pageant. It has been a good deal more than that to the men who have had
to be responsible for the successful working out of the problem. Come
back behind the scenes and I shall try to show you the project as it
appears to these men--a thing of hard realities and seemingly all but
endless labor.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Grayson M.-P. Murphy and his Commission made the preliminary
survey trip to France in the interests of the American Red Cross
in June, 1917, they took the man who was to solve their transportation
problem right along with them. He was and still is Major Osborne.
There have been changes in the Red Cross personnel since first the
American organization took up its big part of the international job
at Paris. Men have come and men have gone. Big executives--five, ten,
twenty-thousand-dollar-a-year men a plenty--have slammed down their
desks in New York or Pittsburgh or Chicago or San Francisco and have
given six months or a year willingly and gladly to the service of the
Red Cross. For many of them well past the army age it seemingly was the
only way that they could keep pace with their boys or their nephews in
khaki. But Osborne did not measure his service by months. He came with
the first and remained on the job until long months after the signing of
the armistice.

I wish that I might write of C. G. Osborne as some veteran American
railroader or at least as a man experienced in motor truck or highway
transportation of some sort. For when one comes to measure the size of
the job and the way that he measured up to it, it seems incredible that
he has not had large transportation experience of some sort. Yet when
the truth is told it is known that Major Osborne is a college man, with
an astounding record as an athlete, but with little more actual traffic
experience than falls to the lot of any average business man. Perhaps,
after all, that was just as well, for to his big new job he not only
brought vigor and strength but a freshness of mind that made him see it
in all the breadth of its possibilities.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were eighteen men in that pioneer survey party of the American Red
Cross to France. Before the ship had left her dock in New York, Osborne
was on his big new job, wiring the American Relief Clearing House in
Paris--which at that time was the unified agency for all the American
relief work of every sort that had sprung up in France since the war
began in August, 1914, to buy six touring cars and to have them at Paris
to meet the party. The American Relief Clearing House moved quickly. It
already possessed three Renaults--good cars of a sort well suited to the
hard necessities of the war-scarred highroads of France. It purchased
three more touring cars of the same general type, and in these six cars
the American Red Cross took its first real look at the field into which
it was to enter--the field in which it was destined to play the greatest
rôle in all of its eventful career.

The Clearing House, it should be understood quite clearly, was not at
any time a war-relief agency upon its own account. It was, as its name
indicates, a real clearing house or central station for a number of
American relief organizations who came to the aid of the French long
before the United States had entered the war, and the American Red Cross
was privileged legally to enter into the relief work in connection with
it. It received goods--sweaters, socks, medicines, even food--from the
states and from England and distributed them, although not even this
work was undertaken directly, but was handled through _transitaires_,
who made the direct distributions. Because of the rather limited nature
of its work, therefore, it needed little actual equipment. In June,
1917, it only owned eight touring cars and three trucks; and all of
these were pretty badly shot to pieces by hard service and by lack of
repairs. But these it turned over to the Red Cross and they became the
nucleus of the American Red Cross transportation organization in France.

"What we are going to need here," said Major Osborne to his fellows
before he had been on the new job a fortnight, "is to create a real
transportation service and to build it up from the bottom. What I really
have in mind is the organization of something like one of our express
companies back in the United States."

If you know anything at all about our inland transportation system in
America you must realize that our express companies--one of our most
distinctive forms of national transportation, by the way--although
closely related to our railroads are in no real sense a part of them.
For, while they have their largest functions upon railroad trains,
particularly passenger trains, they also maintain in all the towns and
cities that they serve great fleets or squadrons of horse-drawn or
motor-drawn trucks. And in recent years they have increased their
carrying functions from the small parcels for which they originally were
designed into the heaviest types of freight. I have known a carload of
steel girders to move from New York to Newark, eight miles distant, by

Osborne's idea of the Red Cross Express was fundamentally sound, and
perhaps it is because it was so fundamentally sound that it has been so
very successful, although working many times against tremendous odds. He
recognized from the first that it would be foolish to use Red Cross
motor trucks for long-distance hauls, such as from Havre to Paris, for
instance, save in cases of great emergency. The railroad service of
France, although greatly hampered and handicapped during the war, was at
no time broken down. And it was not necessary, as in Great Britain and
in the United States, to take it out of the hands of its private owners
and place it under direct government control.

Osborne realized that he would be compelled to place his chief reliance
upon the French railways. The United States Military Railroad,
especially at the outset, was not to be compared in value with that of
the main stems of the French systems, particularly those which radiate
out from Paris. So he made immediate arrangements with the French
Minister of Railways for the transport of Red Cross supplies from the
various Atlantic ports to Paris and other distributing stations as well
as right up to the railheads behind the lines themselves. And the French
on their part generously and immediately gave free transportation to all
Red Cross supplies, as well as to all persons bound to any part of
France exclusively on Red Cross work. In addition arrangements were made
by which the Red Cross personnel bound on vacation leaves or other
personal errands through France might avail themselves of the very low
passenger rates heretofore only granted to soldiers in uniform.

       *       *       *       *       *

With his plan of utilization of the railroads for long-distance hauls
firmly fixed, Osborne promptly went to work to organize his fleet of
trucks and touring cars in the various cities of France where the
American Red Cross has touched with its activities. That meant not alone
the securing of sufficient motor cars of the various sorts necessary to
the situation, but of garages and repair facilities of every sort; this
last particularly difficult in a nation which for three years had been
war-racked and hard put to it to meet her own necessities of motor
transportation. But from a beginning of three trucks and eight touring
cars from the American Relief Clearing House, whose activities were
quickly absorbed by the Red Cross, a mighty fleet of trucks and camions
and camionettes and touring cars slowly was assembled. Before Osborne
had been in France a month he had purchased at Paris fifty-five sizable
trucks, twenty-five of which had been unloaded at Havre and which had
been destined originally for an American firm in France and another
thirty which were turned over by the French Minister of Munitions. The
entire fifty-five trucks were all at work by the end of July, 1917, when
the first of the relief supplies from America began to roll, a mighty
tidal wave into France.

       *       *       *       *       *

On November 11, 1918, the day that the armistice was signed and another
great milestone in the progress of the world erected, the transport
department of the American Red Cross in France possessed a mighty fleet
of 1,285 trucks and touring cars, moving some 5,000 tons of supplies
each week. The greater part of these were in actual and constant
service, the rest being held in its great garages and shops for painting
and repairs. To these shops we shall come in good time.

I would not have you think of the transport problem too largely as a
problem of the motor truck, however. I should prefer to have you see
another picture; this one a perspective--France rolled flat before your
eyes, the blue Atlantic upon one side and the mountainous German
frontier upon the other. Across this great perspective--call it a map,
if you will--are furrowed many fine lines. The spider web once again!
Here are the railways radiating out, like spokes of the wheel, from
Paris. Here are the mass of connecting and cross-country lines. And here
the one of these that must remain impressed upon the minds of
Americans--the double main stem of the United States Military Railroad
in France reaching chiefly from the ports of Bordeaux and of St. Nazaire
with fainter but clear defined tendrils from La Rochelle and Brest as
well. And if the eye be good or the glass half strong enough one can see
the steady line of American transports coming to these four harbors--the
"bridge across the Atlantic" of which our magazine writers used to prate
so glibly but a little time ago.

As I write, the list of the French ports at which the transport
department of the Red Cross conducts its chief activities is before me.
In addition to the four which have just been mentioned, one finds Toulon
and Marseilles, upon the Mediterranean: Bassens, La Pallice, Nantes,
Havre, Rouen, Dunkirk and Calais. Not all of these were American ports.
Some of them were reserved exclusively for the British. But they were
all ports for the American Red Cross, which frequently found it
necessary or advisable to buy supplies, raw or manufactured, in England.

The bulk of our materials came, however, to the American ports; and at
some of them our Red Cross maintained more than a merely sizable
organization. At least at six, it had a captain, thirty or forty French
or American helpers, and perhaps from seventy-five to a hundred _boche_
prisoners who performed the hardest of the actual work upon the piers
and within the warehouses. There was much work to be done. The plants
were huge. In St. Nazaire, for instance, the Red Cross warehouse alone
could hold more than eight thousand cases of supplies beneath its roof,
and in course of the busiest days of the war, just before the signing of
the armistice, it was no uncommon thing for this great warehouse to be
completely emptied and refilled within seven days. At the one port of
St. Nazaire it was necessary to assign six large trucks, and yet the
movement of Red Cross supplies from this great port was exclusively upon
the trains of the United States Military Railroad.

As fast as the freight came pouring out from the holds of the ships it
was carted into the warehouses, where it was carefully checked and a
receipt sent back to America, noting any shortages or overages. Then it
found its way to the trains. If it was to an American train the process
was simple enough; merely the waybill transaction which is so familiar
to every American business man who ever has had freight dealings with
our Yankee railroads. If it went upon the French railways, however,
either in carload or less than carload lots, it rode upon the _ordre de
transport_ which, although issued and personally signed by Major
Osborne, was the free gift of the French Minister of Railways. These
_ordres de transport_ differed from waybills chiefly in the fact that
they give gross weights but no listing of the contents of the cases.
This last was accomplished by the _bordereaux_, which was purely a Red
Cross document.

       *       *       *       *       *

The work of the port manager of the American Red Cross at one of these
important water gates of France was no sinecure, indeed. Here is the
testimony of one of the ablest of them, Mr. J. M. Erwin, who was in
charge of its terminal transportation work, first at Le Havre and then
at Nantes. He writes:

"In my branch of the activities I have performed no heroisms. I have not
rushed out in the middle of the night to carry food or dressings to the
front while dodging bombs or bullets, but I have crawled out of bed at
five o'clock and six o'clock in the morning to wade through snow and mud
in the quays, trying to boss the unloading of Red Cross goods from a
ship and their transshipment to warehouse, car, or canal boat. I am like
my confrères of other seaports in France--I haven't had a chance to
expose my person to battle dangers--nothing more than the hazards of
abnormal movement and traffic, tumbling cranes and falling bales,
automobile eccentricities, climatic exposures, and a few similar

"I have had my trials of dealing with the formalities of war
departments, likewise with their machine-made exactions, and with all
the types of Monsieur Le Bureau, with the general and the corporal, with
the teamsters who arrive late--or not at all--with the auto truck which
breaks down, with the _boche_ prisoner gang which reports to the wrong
place two miles away, with the vermin that steals things out of cracked
cases, with the flivver that I can't start, with the navigation colonel
who before the war was a plain clerk who wore store clothes, with the
railway station master who can't give me any cars, with 119 cases of jam
that are 'busted' and must be repaired, at once, and atop of all this
the rain which has been raining for seven weeks and won't stop."

The tone of the port manager's letter suddenly changes from sarcasm to
the romance of his big job.

"If a bale or a case of goods could talk," he writes, "and tell you all
about its trip from Spokane, Washington, to the emergency hospital near
Château-Thierry, its narrative would form a chain story of freight cars
and docks and stevedores, somber seclusion in a deep hold, tempests and
submarines alert, the clanking of chains and the creaking of slings,
shouts, orders, and oaths, bangings about in rain and snow, nails
and cords yielding under the tension of rush and brutality, voices
and hands of inimitable _über alles_ prisoner teams, lonesome sleeps
in dark warehouses, gnawings of nocturnal rats, more trips to the
unknown, _petite vitesse_ which averages five miles an hour,
and--finally--destination, arrival, identification, application, and
appreciation. The voyage and itinerary of a case of goods for the Red
Cross compose an odyssey and very few human packages ever perform
displacements so replete with incidents and interest."

Such indeed was the day's work of the port manager's job. He was master
of transportation, and at a very vital point in transportation. No
matter how much he might be assailed by questions or criticisms, until
he wondered whether he really is a bureau of information or one of
complaint, he never forgot that transportation was his real job, which
brought to the A, B, C, of human endeavor, meant that he must see that
the Red Cross supplies received at his port were properly checked and
without delay shipped to their destinations. Paris was most generally
this last.

       *       *       *       *       *

Put yourself back into those stirring days. Suppose, if you will, that a
certain definite shipment of Red Cross supplies comes into the
headquarters city of Paris, either from Rouen or Le Havre or Brest or
St. Nazaire. It comes through without great delay on the small but
seemingly entirely efficient goods cars of a French railway to a great
freight "_quai_" or warehouse, set aside for the exclusive use of our
American Red Cross, not far from the busy passenger terminal of St.
Lazaire. This huge raised platform, some six hundred feet long and fifty
feet wide, handles some eighty per cent of all the Red Cross supplies
that come into Paris in the course of the average month. All of the
goods that come to this Parisian freight station are import and "in
bond," and so at the great exit gates there is a squad of customs guards
to inspect all outbound loads. But, again through the courtesy of the
French Government, all Red Cross supplies are permitted to pass without
inspection. Thus a great deal of time is saved and efficiency gained.

The little railway goods cars with the Red Cross supplies pull up along
one side of the _quai_ platform, while upon the other side stand the
camions or trucks to carry the supplies down into Paris. Occasionally
these are not destined for the French capital; in which case they are
quickly transferred and reloaded to other little railway goods cars, and
destined for other points in France. For the normal handling of freight
upon this particular Red Cross _quai_--when, for instance, two or more
ships arrive within a day of one another--the number of handlers and
checkers may rise quickly to eighty-five or a hundred and then there may
be as many as 15,000 cases of supplies upon the platform at a single
time. The men employed are mainly French soldiers on leave or already
demobilized, and are strong and dexterous workers. And upon one occasion
they unloaded ninety-two closely packed freight cars in thirty-two

In the course of an average war-time month this Paris receiving station
for American Red Cross supplies would handle anywhere from 800 to 5,000
tons of cases a week, and despite the great weight of many of these
cases--there is nothing light, for instance, in either medicines or
surgical instruments--counts even the higher record as no extraordinary

In addition to being a receiving station, this _quai_ performed steady
service as a sorting station or clearing house. From it some fifteen
warehouses or stores depots in and about Paris received their supplies.
And care must be taken that the goods for each of these warehouses must
go forward promptly and correctly. The need for this care was obvious.
It would be as senseless to send surgical dressing to one distribution
center as stoves to another.

When any of these incoming supplies had been transferred from the
railway _quai_ to the distribution stations and a receipt taken for
them, they were at once stricken from the records of the transportation
department until, in response to a subsequent call, they were
transferred out for delivery, either to the consumer or to another
storage point in an outlying region, which is where the big fleet of Red
Cross trucks in the streets of Paris began to fully function. The
central control bureau, to which was delegated the routine but important
work of the control of this great squadron of trucks, also had charge of
the reception of merchandise arriving at the Seine landings on barges
from the seaports of Rouen or Le Havre. For one must not forget that in
France the inland waterway continues to play a large part of her
internal transport. Not only are her canals and her canalized rivers
splendidly maintained, but also owing quite largely to her comparatively
mild winters, they render both cheap and efficient transportation. And
the Seine, itself, sometimes brought a thousand tons a week into the Red
Cross at Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now are we facing squarely the problem of the motor truck in Major
Osborne's big department. I think that it was the part of the problem
that has given him the greatest perplexity, and in the long run the
greatest satisfaction. For, before we are arrived at the fullness of
this phase of his service, please consider the difficulties under which
his staff and himself labored from the beginning. France was at war for
fifty-two months; not fighting a tedious and tiring war in some distant
zone, but battling against the invasion of the strongest army the world
ever has known and facing the almost immediate possibility of national
collapse; which meant in turn, if not an industrial chaos, something at
times dangerously near to it. It meant that trucks, which the Red Cross
organization had purchased back in America and had fought to find cargo
space for in the always overcrowded transports, sometimes were no more
than unloaded before the army, with its prior rights and necessities,
would commandeer them for its own purposes. It meant not only hard
roads, with the dangers attendant upon worn-out highway surfaces and an
overpress of terrific traffic, to say nothing of the real war-time
danger of a bursting shell at any moment, but the lack of proper garage
and repair facilities to undo the havoc that these wrought; which,
further translated, meant added difficulties not only in getting repair
parts but the men properly equipped to install them.

The American Red Cross in France had at all times enough expert
organization genius to enable it to organize its motor transport service
upon the most modern lines of standardization and efficiency. It lacked
one thing, however--time. If it had had time it might easily have
selected one, or at the most, two or three types of motor trucks or
camionettes and one or two types of touring cars and so greatly cut down
the stock of repair parts and tires necessary to keep on hand at all
times. But time did not permit this sort of thing. Time pressed and so
did the Germans, and it was necessary to purchase almost any sort of
truck or car that was available and put it to work without delay.

The man problem was quite as acute as that of the material. Good drivers
and good repair men were alike hard to find in a nation that was all
but exhausting its man power in the desperate effort to hold back the
invading host. As it was, many of the workers in the Red Cross's
transportation department were discharged soldiers. A few of them were
_mutilés_--men who had suffered permanent and terrible injuries in the
defense of their country. And a wearer of the _Croix de Guerre_ more
than once drove an American Red Cross car or blew a forge at one of its
repair garages. The man-power question was at all times a most
perplexing one.

I have mentioned this phase of the problem of my own accord. Neither
Major Osborne nor any of his staff have referred to it. Yet it is
typical of the many difficult phases of the big transportation problem
which was thrust upon them for immediate solution--and which was solved.

       *       *       *       *       *

To get some real idea of the magnitude of this transportation problem,
come back with me for a day into the Red Cross garages of Paris. We
shall once again, as in war time, have to start in the early morning,
not alone because of the many plants to be visited but also because we
want to see the big four-ton and five-ton trucks come rolling out of the
great Louis Blanc garage, close beside the Boulevard de la Villette at
the easterly edge of the city. As its name might indicate it faces the
ancient street of Louis Blanc, faces it and morning and night fills it
with its energy and its enterprise. Fills it completely and never
disorderly. For I have seen it in the early morning disgorge from 150 to
200 trucks from its stone-paved courtyard and receive them, or others,
back at night with no more confusion than a well-drilled military
company would show in leaving its barracks or an armory.

The stone-paved courtyard itself is interesting. It is a bit of old
Paris--the yard of an ancient stable where carters coming into the city
with their produce from the fat farms of the upper Seine Valley or the
Marne might rest their steeds for a time. The old structures which look
down upon the courtyard have done so for two or three or four
centuries--perhaps even longer. The only outward evidence of modernity
about the place is its steel-trussed roof, wide of span and set high
aloft, like the great train shed of some huge railroad station, and the
splendidly efficient great motor trucks themselves. How those old
carters of the royalist days of France would have opened their eyes if
they could have seen a five-ton truck of to-day, American built, in all
probability the output of some machine shop upon or near the shores of
Lake Erie. They are wonderful machines--alert, efficient, reliable. I do
not wonder that when one of our motor-truck manufacturers from the
central portion of the United States visited the Verdun citadel--just a
few months before the ending of the war--the commandant of that
triumphant fortress kissed him upon the cheeks and led him to
decorations and a state banquet in his apartments sixty-five feet
beneath the surface of the ground. There were several hundred of the
manufacturer's three-ton camions in the outer courtyard of the fortress
and it only took a slight brushing away of the dust and mud to show that
they had been on the job, in faithfulness and strength, since 1914.

One does not, under ordinary circumstances at least, have to brush away
much dust and mud to find the number plate of the Red Cross car; for the
Red Cross follows the method of the American and the British armies in
insisting upon absolute cleanliness for its equipment. One of the
briskest departments in the huge Louis Blanc garage is the paint shop,
and the evidences of its energy are constantly in sight about the
streets of Paris.

The energy of some of the other workshop departments of the garage are
perhaps less in evidence upon the streets, yet if these departments were
not measuring constantly to the fullness of their possibilities their
failure would be evident to any one--in constant breakdowns of
equipment. The fact that the trucks and touring cars alike have had so
few complete breakdowns, despite the terribly difficult operating
conditions, shows that the Red Cross repair shops have been very much on
the job at all times.

They are complete shops. In them it is possible to take a huge camion
completely apart even to removing the engine and the body from the
chassis and the frame, in order that cylinders may be bored anew, piston
rings refitted, and bearings entirely renewed. All this work and more
has been done under emergency in less than three days.

Close beside this Red Cross truck garage in the Rue Louis Blanc is a
hotel for the two or three hundred workers and drivers employed there.
It is small, but very neat and comfortable and homelike, and is directly
managed by the Red Cross. It gives housing facilities in a portion of
Paris where it is not easy to find such. And the long hours of the
chauffeurs in particular render it highly necessary that they have
living accommodations close to their work.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Louis Blanc we cross Paris in the longest direction and come to the
so-called Buffalo Park, in Neuilly, just outside the gates of the city.
Buffalo Park gains its name from the fact that it once was a part of the
circus grounds wherein the unforgetable "Buffalo Bill" was wont to
disport his redskins for the edification and eternal joy of Paris youth.
To-day it is a simple enough inclosure, fenced in a high green-painted
palisade, ingeniously fabricated from packing cases in which
knocked-down motor cars were shipped from America and guarded by a
Russian wolfhound who answers to the name of "Nellie." In the language
of the French, "Nellie" functions. And functions, like most of her sex,
awfully well. She respects khaki; but her enthusiasm and lack of
judgment in regard to other forms of male habiliment has occasionally
cost the Red Cross the price of a new pair of green corduroy trousers,
always so dear to the heart of the peasant.

Within the green-painted inclosure of Buffalo Park there stands a
permanent, especially built, fireproof warehouse and office building,
and at all times from 175 to 200 camionettes, or light ton or ton and a
half trucks. It does not undertake much repair work, particularly of a
heavy nature, but its great warehouse holds hundreds upon hundreds of
tires (the variety of wheel sizes in unstandardized motor equipment is
appalling) and tens of thousands of spare and repair parts. The entire
big plant is lighted by its own electric generating plant. A big
four-cylinder gasoline engine, taken from a Yankee truck which had its
back hopelessly broken on the crowded road to Rheims, and bright and
clean and efficient, was thus put to an economic and essential purpose.

       *       *       *       *       *

The other large garage and repair shop of the Red Cross transportation
department in Paris is situated at No. 79 Rue Tangier, close to the
plants in Neuilly, yet just within the fortifications. It was the first
garage to be chosen, and one easily can see why Osborne and his fellows
rejoiced over its selection; for it is one of the most modern and
seemingly one of the most efficient buildings that I have seen in
Paris--three stories in height and solidly framed in reënforced
concrete. It houses each night some two hundred touring cars and has
complete shops for the maintenance and repair of this great squadron of

Up to the present moment I have only touched upon the use of touring
cars for the American Red Cross in France. Yet I should like to venture
the prediction that without these cars, the greater part of them of the
simplest sort, our work over there would have lost from thirty to forty
per cent of its effectiveness. It is useless to talk of train service in
a land where passenger train service has been reduced to a minimum and
then a considerable distance beyond. Remember that the few passenger
trains that remain upon the French railways are fearfully and almost
indecently crowded. Folk stand in their corridors for three hundred or
four hundred miles at a time. For a Red Cross worker bound from point to
point to be forced to use these trains constantly in the course of his
or her work is not only a great tax upon the endurance but a fearful
waste of time.

The same conditions which exist in the outer country are reflected in
Paris. The subway, the omnibus, and the trolley systems of the city all
but completely broke down in the final years of the war when man power
depletion was at its very worst. The conditions of overcrowding upon
these facilities at almost any hour were worse even than the
overcrowding upon the transit lines in our metropolitan cities in the
heaviest of their rush hours. To gain a real efficiency, therefore, it
became absolutely necessary many times to transport Red Cross workers,
when on business bent, in touring cars. And because there were at the
height of the work some six thousand of these folk--five thousand in
Paris alone--it became necessary to engage the services of a whole fleet
of touring cars. Some seventy touring cars were assigned to the Paris
district. With very few exceptions these were operated on a strictly
taxicab basis, with the Red Cross headquarters in the Hotel Regina as an
operating center. Here, at the door, sat a chief dispatcher, who upon
presentation of a properly filled order, assigned a car; and assigned it
and its fellows in the precise order in which they arrived at that
central station. It was all simple and efficient and worked extremely
well. In the course of an average day the chief dispatcher at the Regina
handled from eighty to one hundred requests, for runs lasting from
twenty minutes to an entire day.

In the latter part of January, 1919, I saw this Transportation
Department bending to an emergency, and bending to it in a very typical
American fashion. A strike of the subway employees spreading in part to
those of the omnibuses and trolley lines, had all but completely
crippled the badly broken-down transportation of the city. And not only
was the Red Cross being greatly hampered, but the personnel was being
put to inconvenience and discomfort that was not at all compatible with
the Red Cross idea of proper treatment of its workers.

In this emergency the transportation department jumped in. It moved up
to the front door of the Regina on the first night of the strike a whole
brigade of heavy camions and a squad of omnibuses such as it uses in
transferring officers and men on leave between the railroad terminals
and its various hotels in Paris. These were quickly but carefully
assigned to definite routes which corresponded in a fashion to those of
the more important subway routes. Huge legible placards announced the
destination of each of the buses or trucks--Porte Maillot,
Denfert-Rochereau, Place de la Bastille--as the various instances might
be. Definite announcement was made of the hours at which these trucks
would return on the following morning to bring the workers back again.
The strike was over in two days, but if it had lasted two weeks it would
have meant little difference to the Red Cross workers. Their
organization had shown itself capable of taking full care of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have drifted away, mentally at least, from the big touring-car garage
at No. 79 Rue Langier. Yet before we get entirely away from it we will
find that it pays us well to see its shops; great, complete affairs
situated in a long wing which runs at right angles to the main
structure, and which employ at almost all times from eighty to one
hundred mechanics--blacksmiths, machinists, painters, even carpenters,
among them. French and American workmen are employed together, but never
in the same squad. That would be an achievement not easy of

"How do the two kinds of workmen mix?" we ask the young Red Cross
captain in charge of the garage.

[Illustration: CHOW
The rolling kitchens, builded on trailers to motor trucks, brought hot
drinks and food right up to the men in action]

He does not hesitate in his answer.

"The French are the more thorough workmen. They are slower, but their
output is finer. The American gains the point more quickly and goes at
it to achieve his end in a more direct fashion. Each is good in his own
way. And each realizes the strong points of the other."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Rue Langier garage keeps complete books for all four of the Paris
Red Cross garages. We have seen three of them already, and inasmuch as
the lunch hour approaches will prefer visiting the motor camp at Parc du
Prince, just outside the fortifications and close to the Bois de
Boulogne, used chiefly as an overflow park during the stiffest days of
Red Cross activities. But in addition to this it does other things, not
the least of them the maintenance of the transportation department's own
post-office facilities and a clubroom for the use of the chauffeurs when
they are off duty, not a very frequent occurrence.

"Do the chauffeurs ever play poker?" we ask Captain Conroy.

He assures us that they do not.

Also poker is supposedly interdicted at the big hotel which Major
Osborne has established for the officers and men of his department out
in Neuilly, just around the corner from Buffalo Park. There are plenty
of other amusements to be found, however--books, games, cigars,
cigarettes, a phonograph, and a remarkable cage of rare Oriental birds
which, with pretty good success, at times try to silence the phonograph.

It is to this hotel that we find our way for lunch and, without
hesitation, pronounce our meal the best we have had in Paris, which has
more than a local reputation as a capital of good eating. We find an
omelet soufflé--the first to greet us in the town--roast turkey, mashed
potatoes, Brussels sprouts, an American apple pie, bread and butter,
and coffee with real creamy milk. And all for three francs! It is
unbelievable. Our hotel charges us six francs for one pear--and an
uncooked pear at that!

       *       *       *       *       *

This remarkable hotel, which houses about two hundred of the
transportation department workers, was one of Major Osborne's pet
projects. It more than earned its modest cost in the promotion of the
morale, and hence the efficiency, of his department. To its mess table,
the major himself often came. Sometimes he brought his aid, Captain
Hayes, out with him. Both confessed to a liking for roast turkey and
omelet soufflé. At the officers' table there was almost certain to be
Captain Harry Taintor, a distinguished New York horseman, then at
Buffalo Park and gaining experience in a distinctly different form of
highway transportation; Captain M. D. Brown, also of Buffalo Park;
Captain F. D. Ford, over from Rue Louis Blanc, and Captain Conroy from
Rue Langier. These men and many others came to the hotel, and among them
not to be forgotten a certain splendid physician who left a good
practice up in Minnesota somewhere to come to Paris and look after the
health and strength of the transportation-department personnel. More
than sixty years young, no youngster in his twenties gave more freely or
more unselfishly than this man. He was always at the service of his
fellows in the Neuilly hotel.

His service was typical of the entire remarkable morale organization of
the transportation department. It was the same sort of service that Miss
Robinson, the capable manager of the hotel, forever was rendering, that
the little supply shop across the street gave, that one found here and
there everywhere within the department; a morale organization so varied
and so complete that it might well stand for the entire American Red
Cross organization in France, and yet served but one of the multifold
activities of that organization.

Before we have quite left the more purely mechanical phases of the
transportation department--and lack of space or time will forbid my
showing you the other important garage facilities in the outlying cities
and towns of France--I want to call your attention to one important part
of the problem, the supplying of fuel for the many hundreds of trucks
and cars which the Red Cross operates throughout the French republic.
You may have noticed at Buffalo Park one or two of the huge 7,500-gallon
trailer trucks used to bring gasoline from the United States Army oil
station at Juilly, outside of Paris, to the Red Cross garages within the

In the months of its greatest activities, the Red Cross in France used
an average of 25,000 gallons of gasoline. To have secured and
transported this great quantity of oil even in normal, peaceful years
would have been a real problem. To secure it, to say nothing of
transporting it, in the hard years toward the end of the war, was a
surpassing problem; for gasoline seemingly was the most precious of all
the precious things in France. If you did not believe it, all you had to
do was to ask a Paris taxi driver--even after taxis had become fairly
plentiful once again upon the streets of the capital--to take you to
distant Montmartre or Montparnasse--and then hear him curse Fate and
lack of "essence" in his fuel reservoirs.

But the Red Cross, thanks to the French and American army authorities as
well as to its own energies, did get the "essence." How it did it at
times is a secret that only Osborne knows. And he probably never will

Remember, if you will, that gasoline was the vitalizing fluid of the
war; therefore, in France, it was guarded and conserved with a miser's
care. For without it one knew that there could be little mobility of
troops, little transport of supplies and ammunition, and no tanks or
aëroplanes! Therefore every liter of it which came into France had to be
accounted for. And in the years of fighting the private motor
practically disappeared. Only the militarized car remained mobile and
was permitted to retain access to the diminished gasoline stores of the

Throughout the entire nation, the French Army established gasoline
supply stations. In its zones of special activity the American
Expeditionary Forces had their own great stations in addition. On the
presentation of a properly signed _carnet_ or book of gas tickets, a
military or Red Cross driver was permitted to obtain from any of these
depots such an amount of gas or kerosene or lubricating oil as he might
really need. The _carnet_ slips were in triplicate, so that three
records might be kept of the dispensation. No money was paid by the
driver; his slip signed and delivered to the depot superintendent was
sufficient. And by this method every gallon of gas so obtained was
eventually paid for.

The basis of this entire plan was that a gallon of gasoline, no matter
where it might be obtained, was a gallon of gasoline from the Allies'
supply of the precious fluid and must not only be accounted for but paid
for, in whatever way payment might be required. The French Government
preferred to be paid in the precious fluid itself, liter for liter, as
the Red Cross purchased it from the American Army. If it so happened, as
it often did happen, that the restitution was made at a French port,
although the original supply was drawn at depots many miles inland, the
French were further compensated by the payment of a sum to represent the
freight charges from that port to the distribution centers which
supplied the depots. But for all the gasoline drawn from the American
Army stores cash payment was made by the Red Cross.

To insure the conservation of the gas, the greatest care was used in
choosing the men and women--for when we come to consider in detail the
peculiarly valuable services rendered by the women personnel of the Red
Cross in France, we shall find that more than once they mounted the
driver's seat of a camion or touring car and remained there for long
hours at a time--for drivers. And woe betide the man or woman caught
wasting "essence." For when a driver left any of the garages with a car
or camion--even if he were going but a short four blocks--he carried
with him a time-stamped _ordre de mission_ indicating his destination.
The quantity of gasoline either in the car's tanks or in the spare
containers also was carefully registered. And if the driver should be
discovered to have deviated from the shortest path between his garage
and his destination he was called upon for an explanation. If this
proved unsatisfactory he was warned for his first offense; for the next
he went to a punitive period on the "wash rack" in the garage, which
meant that from two or three days to two weeks or more he stepped down
from the driver's seat and washed the dirty cars as they came in, and to
the best of his ability, too. If discipline of this sort was found
ineffectual, the culprit, being militarized as a member of the American
Expeditionary Forces, was turned over to the provost marshal of the
American Army in Paris for such punishment as he might see fit to
impose. The latter might extend--and sometimes did extend--to
deportation to America.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far we have not even touched upon the dramatic phases of the work of
the transportation function of our Red Cross. Yet do not for one moment
imagine that it lacked these a-plenty. I said at the beginning of this
chapter that the trucks and camionettes were not used for long
hauls--ordinarily. It was far too wasteful and far too extravagant
transportation. Yet, extraordinarily, these found their way the entire
length and breadth of France. It might not be efficient or economical to
ship beds and bedding in trucks; the food relief afforded by even a
tightly packed five-ton camion was almost negligible save in a very
great crisis. But think of the emergency possibilities of a truckload of
surgical instruments rolling up to the battle line, or of five tons of
ether finding its way to a field hospital all but overwhelmed by the
inrush of wounded men. These were functions the transportation
department could and did perform, and performed them so well as to merit
the _Croix de Guerre_ more than once for its men.

On one occasion, in particular, the drivers of a fleet of camions stood
by the surgeons of a big field hospital as they performed operation
after operation--each a trying mental strain, but performed apparently
with no more effort than the simplest of mechanical processes. These
boys--the most of them were hardly more than boys--in that long
forty-eight-hour trick were surgeons' helpers. They held the arms and
legs that the scalpel severed and in the passing of but two days of
their lives ceased to be boys and became case-hardened men.

How shall one best describe the really magnificent work of the Red
Cross's efficient Transportation Department in such supreme emergencies
as the last great drive of the Germans upon the western front; or in
emergencies slightly smaller in area yet vastly important in the rôle
they played to the rest of the war--such as the fearful explosion in the
hand-grenade depot at La Courneuve, just outside of Paris, early in
1918? Of the work of the Red Cross in detail during the drive we have
yet to read in other chapters of this volume. For three days after the
La Courneuve disaster the French newspapers printed accounts of the
American Red Cross work there, and every editorial writer in Paris paid
his tribute to the promptness and courage with which that aid was given.

This explosion shook Paris, and the country roundabout for many miles,
at a little before two o'clock in the afternoon. The force of the shock
may be the better understood when one knows that it broke windows more
than six miles distant from the hand-grenade depot. The Parisians
thought at first that the _boches_ had dared a daylight raid upon their
city, but a great yellowish-gray cloud rising like a mighty column of
smoke to the north quickly dispelled that notion. Only a mighty
explosion could send such a beacon toward the heavens.

Major Osborne chanced to be at luncheon at the moment of the explosion.
He jumped from the table and speeded to the main garage of the Red Cross
in Paris as quickly as the nearest taxicab could take him; there he
ordered five ambulances to be equipped and manned and held for orders.
The superintendent of the motor division of the service also had seen
that beacon, and he, too, had driven at top speed to the garage. The two
men, with the aid of that beacon and a good map of the environs of Paris
together with their knowledge of the war activities around about it,
decided instantly that it must be La Courneuve that was the scene of the
disaster, and without hesitation ordered the ambulances to hurry there.

"Hurry" to an ambulance driver! It was part of his gospel and his creed.
In fifteen minutes the squad was at the smoking ruin, and the Red Cross,
as usual, was the first ready to render help. It was needed; for
although the death list was comparatively small--and one can say "Thank
God!" for that--owing to the fact that the first of three thundering
detonations had given the workmen a chance to run for their lives,
practically all the houses in the near by communities had been
shattered, and a great many folk wounded in their homes by falling walls
and ceilings. The depot was ablaze when the Red Cross ambulances
arrived, and from the center of the conflagration came the incessant
bursting of grenades. Although pieces of metal were flying through the
air with every explosion, the Red Cross workers went to the very edge of
the fire, crawling on hands and knees over piles of hand grenades in
search of the wounded. It was courage, courage of the finest sort;
courage--I may say--of the Red Cross type.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the morning of the twenty-second day of March, 1918, Parisians read
in the newspapers that came with their matutinal coffee that the
long-heralded and much-advertised German drive was actually beginning.
Major Osborne and his fellows saw those startling headlines. Instead of
wasting time upon speculating as to what their final significance was to
be, they interpreted them as a direct and personal call to duty. Within
the hour they were at the big garage in the Rue Louis Blanc, realizing
that the Transportation Department once again had an opportunity to
demonstrate its real efficiency.

The drive was on; the pathetic and tragic seeming defeat of the allied
forces begun. Retreat meant that refugees would soon be fleeing from the
newly created danger areas, that there would be necessity for increased
medical supplies for the rearward hospitals, and a vast amount of
incidental work for both camions and men. The work of a transportation
function in war is by no means limited to armies that are advancing or
even stationary.

At Louis Blanc orders were given to make ready a battery of trucks at
once to take on emergency supplies. Even while this was being done, a
mud-spattered car came in from the danger zone with the news that
important outlying towns were threatened and must be evacuated at once,
that thousands of refugees already were falling back, and that the Red
Cross warehouses must be stripped in order to prevent the precious
stores from falling into the enemy's hands. Ten minutes later the
telephone brought even more sinister news. In several villages close to
the changing front, folk had been without food for twenty-four hours.
Rations must go forward at once. Delay was not to be tolerated, not for
a single instant.

Steadily the telephone jangled. Messengers by motor car or motor cycle
came in to the transportation headquarters. Major Osborne made up his
mind quickly. He is not of the sort that often hesitates. Within a half
hour he was on his way toward the front in a car loaded with as many
spare tires and tubes and gasoline as it could possibly carry, and
headed straight for the little village of Roye. At first it was possible
to make a fair degree of speed; but as the front was neared the roads
became congested with a vast traffic, so fearfully congested that the
men in the relief car counted it as speed that they were able to make
the seventy-five miles between Paris and Roye in an even three hours.
Between Montdidier and Roye the highroads were all but impassable
because of the press of the traffic--fleeing townsfolk and the movement
of troops and artillery.

At an advanced Red Cross post, Osborne began to get glimmerings of
definite information. With them he set his course toward Noyon, eleven
miles to the southeast. There was another Red Cross post there where he
obtained full enough information to cause him to turn his car squarely
around and begin a race against time to Paris. In less than two hours he
was in his biggest garage there, drawing out trucks, giving definite
orders, and beginning an actual and well-thought-out plan of relief. The
story of the execution of that plan is best told in the words of the man
who carefully supervised its details. Said he:

"There were six big trucks in the convoy that I took up to the front. We
left Paris at midnight, the trucks loaded down with food and medical
supplies and blankets. Although there was a great deal of movement on
the roads, we plugged along all night without many delays and at five
o'clock in the morning had to come to a dead stop. Artillery, transport
camions, soldiers, and refugees blocked the way. We couldn't go a yard
farther. Our orders were to go to N---- with the supply stuff, but we
couldn't have done it without an aëroplane. The army was moving, and the
little space that it left in the roadway was occupied by the refugees.
They came streaming back in every sort of conveyance or on foot, pushing
their belongings in barrows and handcarts. Up ahead somewhere the guns
were drumming in a long, ceaseless roll.

"As it was impossible to carry out the original orders, the trucks were
sent by crossroads to A----, the nearest important point, and I went on
in a little, light car to N----, squeezing my way down the long,
hurrying line of troops and transport. When I reached there, the railway
station was under shell fire and all about it were British machine guns
and gunners awaiting the Germans, who were even then on the outskirts of
the town. The attack was being made in force and it was only a matter of
a few more hours that the defenders could hope to hold out. They had
mined all the bridges over the Oise and were ready to blow them up as
they retreated.

"There was one Red Cross warehouse in N---- and when I ran around to it
I found that, very properly, the British and French troops had helped
themselves from its stores. It was lucky they did, because the town fell
into German hands that evening.

"With N---- off the map, as it were, I speeded back to A----, where
there was a hospital in an old château. In this were sixty wounded
American soldiers and about two hundred French. There were two American
Army surgeons and a few French and English nurses. That afternoon we
evacuated the Americans from the hospital, and made them all comfortable
in their new lodgment at C----. After that we drove back to A---- and
turned in, because we looked forward to a hard day. But at two o'clock
in the morning a French general waked me up with the announcement that
the Germans were advancing and that the hospital had to be completely
evacuated in ten minutes. He made it very clear that it would have to be
done in ten minutes, otherwise we'd find ourselves in No Man's Land. So
I turned the men out and we went to work in the dark. As a matter of
fact those ten minutes stretched from two o'clock until a little after
six, when we carried out the last of the wounded. Some of them were in a
bad way and had to be handled very slowly. We put them in our camions
and took them ten kilometers to the Oise Canal, there transferred them
to barges and thus they were conveyed to Paris.

"That left the hospital with only two American Army surgeons, the Red
Cross personnel, and a French Army chaplain. The American surgeons
looked about the place rather lonesomely, but one of them said he felt
that something was going to happen and that before long there would be
plenty of work for everybody. The guns thundering all around us seemed
to bear him out.

"And he made no mistake! The very next afternoon several American Army
ambulances arrived with loads of English and French wounded. They had
been hurried down from the advanced dressing stations and a large
percentage of them were in bad shape. Although we made only a handful of
people, we hustled about and got the hospital going again somehow and
started in to take care of the wounded. There were no nurses about the
place, none in the town, because the civilians had been ordered out, so
the drivers of the Red Cross camions offered their services. Two or
three of them had been ambulance men at the front and knew a little
something about handling wounded, but there wasn't one who had ever been
a nurse! And the stiff part of it was so many of the wounded soldiers
brought in were in such a condition that operation without delay was

"When everything was made ready the two American surgeons started
operating. They began at 7:30 o'clock in the evening and kept at it
steadily until 3 o'clock in the morning. We--I say 'we' because every
one had to do his bit--performed seventeen major operations, and every
last one was successful! There wasn't a hitch in spite of all the
difficulties of the job. In the first place only one set of instruments
had been left behind. These had to be sterilized by pouring alcohol over
them after they had been used for one operation so they'd be ready for
the next. There wasn't time to boil them. And the light by which the
surgeons worked was furnished by six candles stuck with their own wax to
a board. I held the board. As the surgeon worked I moved it around so he
might have the most light on the probing or cutting or sewing, or
whatever it was he had to do. Three of the operations were trephining
the skull. Another of the soldiers had fifty-nine pieces of shell in
him, and every one of these was located and taken out by candlelight. It
was a busy night! One lucky part of the business was that at midnight
another American Army surgeon arrived and relieved at the operating
table. The worst part of it was that the other worked so steadily that
he knocked out most of the drivers and they couldn't give any help at
all after a while, so that at last there were only two of us left to
bear a hand.

"In the morning we succeeded in evacuating the hospital, taking the
wounded to C----, where there were ample facilities. And as soon as the
wounded were carried from our trucks we were put to work getting out of
the town the refugees who had accumulated there for several days. Then
we turned to moving the Red Cross stores. C---- was under air raid every
clear night, so we had to sleep in the cellar of its great château. The
bombs bursting all about the place made sleep almost impossible.

"And when this little bit of work was ended, the last of the refugees
and their baggage transported to a neighboring railroad station, word
came the Germans had dropped a .240 on a train at R---- a few kilometers
away. So we hustled two camions over there and found four men killed and
five wounded. We packed them into the trucks and brought them out,
delivering the wounded to the hospital at C----. For two or three days
we were busy in that neighborhood taking care of refugees, because they
were streaming toward the haven of Paris by the thousands. Now and then
we would get a call to go to such and such a point because a shell had
killed people, or because stores had to be moved to more secure places.
On one of these trips we met two men of an English lancers regiment who
had been badly wounded and had ridden twenty kilometers in search of a
base hospital. We picked them up, as this was one of our many appointed
tasks, and took them to C---- for treatment. They did not know what to
do with their horses, and as there was no possibility of getting food
for them every day, they debated whether to shoot them. They solved the
problem by giving the two animals to me! And there isn't a doubt the
creatures would have turned into elephants on my hands if I had not met
a British battery on the road the next day. I offered the horses to the
commander and he was overjoyed. 'I've lost eight horses already,' he
explained, and hitched up my two and went rumbling off with his guns.

"In a little while the trucks were ordered to swing northward to S----.
The French had been there, but had retreated to straighten their lines,
and at once the Germans began to shell the place. This eventually drove
out the entire civilian population. It then became such a hot corner
that it was no longer a billeting area for troops, and army camions were
not allowed to pass through the city. But there was a Red Cross staff on
the job there, and as it had been decided that no civilian relief was
possible, the only task was to get out the staff and all the supplies it
would be possible to move from the Red Cross warehouse.

"We went up with three camions, and as we entered the city we saw three
big German sausage observation balloons watching the place and directing
the gunfire. The _boche_ guns were after some of the Aisne bridges, the
railway station, or a big supply depot in the city. Within a short time
after we got in, the shells began falling all around us. The savages had
seen us, there wasn't any doubt of it. There had been no shelling of
this place since the battle of the Aisne in 1915, but the Germans were
making up for that.

"The Red Cross warehouse was in the chapel of the big seminary in the
city, and while we were at work getting things out and loaded, the
shells from the .240's came screaming in. The first one banged its way
through a house directly across the street, and made a puff of dust of
it, but as we were in the courtyard of the seminary we were protected
from flying pieces. After that, at three and a half minute intervals by
the watch, the firing continued. The second shell went over our chapel
and exploded in an orchard fifty yards back of us. It showered us with
mud, and a small piece of shell scored one of our fellows on the cheek.
The third one the Germans sent over landed directly in the seminary
garden. This was almost a bull's-eye, so far as we were concerned, but
we kept at it, making trip after trip, and when the last load left late
in the afternoon, we had taken two hundred tons of precious supplies out
of that warehouse and stored them several kilometers away.

"The last place on our list was hotter than any of the others, because
the Germans were constantly changing their ranges and shelling
everything in the back areas. We went to the little town of M---- to
bring out a Red Cross unit there which was at work only two kilometers
in the rear of the French lines. We had no difficulty in getting the
unit out, but when it came to getting the supplies, that was a different
matter. We went up there with three cars and tried our best, but the
shelling was too severe and we were ordered to come away. Nothing could
have lived in that town the day we tried to make it.

"That's the little story of a week, and it was a full one. While the
German guns were hunting out the important towns the French batteries
were thundering back at them. And it seemed that everywhere we went the
French guns came up, planted themselves, and went into action. In one
town two .155's were towed in by gigantic tractors, stopped beside our
trucks, and as soon as pits could be dug, began firing. Each gun fired
four shots as quickly as possible and then the battery limbered up to
the tractors and went on its way. I asked the commander why he didn't
stay, because it seemed to me that a little protection wouldn't have
been a half bad thing for us. He replied that as there was no camouflage
possible in that town the guns had to be got away before they were
spotted. He added that he was going on to the next town to fire four
more shots, and then to still another one for the same purpose. He
promised to come back to our little town soon, but I thanked him and
said, 'Never mind, we'll be gone by that time.'"

And experience such as this was typical; not in the least unusual. And
this, please remember, was the narrative of but one convoy; there were
four others in that same sector, and in the same week, that had similar
experiences. When we come to consider the Red Cross in its field
activities with our army we shall hear other stories such as this; for,
of a truth, the work of the Transportation Department is eternally
intermeshed and interwoven with that of American Red Cross relief
service of every sort in France. Without transportation, little could
ever have been done.

While convoys and relief supplies rushed toward the front, refugees
found their way back from it. They came into Paris at the rate of nearly
5,000 a day and the American Red Cross was a large factor in taking care
of them, of course. Their arrival at the railroad stations of the city
gave the Transportation Department of the American Red Cross another
task. All day, and day after day, its camions took food supplies to
these terminals and afterward gathered the refugees and their baggage
and bore them to other railroad stations and to the trains which were to
carry them to their temporary destination.

"It was a busy week," laconically remarked a local Red Cross historian
at that time.

       *       *       *       *       *

These were but the beginnings of the days of real test of Major
Osborne's department. For be it recorded that it was in the spring, the
summer, and the fall of 1918 that the rush calls for Red Cross service
came--and found its Transportation Department ready. We were just
speaking of those doleful days of the March retreat, when things looked
red and gray and black and misty before the eyes of those who stood for
the salvation of the democracy of the world. We spoke in drama, now let
us translate drama into cold statistics; understand quite fully that in
the first thirty days of that March retreat, 162 truckloads of Red Cross
supplies and materials were sent out on less than twelve hours' notice,
288 truckloads and material on twenty-four hours' notice, and 61
truckloads on forty-eight hours' notice; 511 loads in all. At one time,
35,000 front-line parcels were sent out within ten days.

And while these supplies were going out from headquarters, fifteen
trucks were in continuous operation, evacuating the wounded along the
routes from Noyon, Rivecourt, Resson, and Montdidier to Beauvais. And
six rolling kitchens, operating in that selfsame territory, supplied hot
food to the troops, which is typical of the work of the Red Cross
Transportation Department in many similar territories. For instance, in
that memorable year, in the attack on Pierrefonds, on July 29, word was
received that several thousand wounded had been lying on the ground for
two days. Twenty fully equipped ambulances went out at once and for
seven days worked steadily evacuating the wounded, and all the while
under constant fire. The entire section of ambulances went into service
on seven hours' notice.

The Twenty-seventh Division--composed almost entirely of former members
of the New York National Guard--did not hesitate, in emergency, to call
upon our Red Cross. Major General John F. O'Ryan found that he was about
to go into action and that less than fifty per cent of his army
ambulance equipment was available. He turned to the Red Cross. Could it
help him out with ambulances? Of course it could. That was part of its
job--the big part, if you please--helping out in war emergencies. Twenty
ambulances were immediately sent out from Paris, and during the attacks
which took Le Catelet and Solenne, operated all the _postes-de-secour_
of the Division.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is still another phase of the Transportation Department, which as
yet we have not even touched upon. I am referring now to the actual aid
it lent the army with its vehicles from time to time. The Army War Risk
Insurance Bureau, for instance, would not have been able to get about
France at all if it had not been for twenty Red Cross cars. Its chief,
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cholmonley-Jones, so testified when he wrote
to the American Red Cross heads in Paris, saying:

"... I desire to express to the American Red Cross our deep appreciation
of the assistance of the organization in our work. By furnishing motor
transportation you enabled our field parties to reach the officers and
enlisted men of the Expeditionary Forces, to place before them their
opportunities under the War Risk Act. Our problem was, after all, a
question of transportation. This you solved and I believe that in doing
so you could have done no greater service, for you assisted in thus
relieving these men of anxiety as to their families at home."

Nor was the aid of our Red Cross limited to the men of our army. It so
happened that we had a navy overseas; and it was a real navy and filled
with very real boys and men. It, too, came in for its full share of
American Red Cross assistance. In fact, one of the larger camps of its
aviation service was entirely constructed with the aid of Red Cross

       *       *       *       *       *

At another time must be told the story of the work of the Transportation
Department of our Red Cross in great bombing raids and cannonading which
was inflicted upon Paris, week in and week out and month in and month
out. It was part of its great chapter of assistance to the war-shocked
population, civil and military, of all France. It is enough to say here
and now that the problem was met with the same promptness, the same
cheerfulness, and the same efficiency as characterized its work with our
army and our navy. This huge portion of our Red Cross machine in France
functioned--and functioned thoroughly.



From the Commissioner in Paris came this cablegram: "Get us six of the
biggest circus tents that you can."

From the Washington headquarters was flashed this reply:

"Tents are on their way."

For the Red Cross it was all a part of the day's work. When Colonel
Harvey D. Gibson, our Red Cross Commissioner in France in the latter
half of 1918, found that the absolute limit for storage supplies in and
around Paris had been reached and passed and that it would be several
weeks at least before more additional warehouses could be constructed,
his practical mind went at once to circus tents to meet the emergency.
They would be rain-proof, sun-proof, frost-proof as well. And so,
turning to the cable, he ordered the tents, as casually as he might have
asked for 10,000 sweaters or 100,000 surgical dressings, and received
them as he might have received the sweaters or the dressings, without an
hour of unnecessary delay.

When we first came to consider the work of the Transportation Department
of the American Red Cross in France, I spoke of the women who, with
patriotic zeal directing both their minds and their deft, quick fingers,
turned out the sweaters, the wristlets, the knitted helmets by not
merely the tens, but by the hundreds of thousands. Their capacity--the
united capacity of a land of some 20,000,000 adult women workers--was
vast. But the necessity was even more vast. And while the proportion of
these creature comforts which were handmade and individual grew to great
size, there also were vast quantities of these things and others which
were purchased from manufacturers and in quantities which not only
compelled these very manufacturers to turn over the entire output of
their plants for many months but also compelled them to add to their
factory capacity. And, of course, there were many things which the wives
and mothers and sisters and sweethearts of America, with all their
loving desires and keen capabilities, could not produce. Which meant
that our Red Cross in France must have purchasing and warehousing
functions--like big business of almost every other sort.

It would have been foolish and worse than foolish to have even attempted
the problem without organization. That was the difficulty of the
well-meaning American relief work which was launched upon French soil
before the coming of our Red Cross. In the early days of the war the
French ports were littered with boxes of relief supplies addressed "The
American Embassy," "American Chamber of Commerce," "French Army," and
just "France." People did so want to help, and so, in our impulsive
American way, sent along things without sending any notice whatsoever as
to whom they were to go. One of the big reasons for the foundation of
the American Relief Clearing House was to combat this very tendency. As
far back as October, 1914, it began by organizing French and American
committees, obtaining freedom of customs for relief goods, free sea and
rail freights, and finally, by organizing the War Relief Clearing House
in New York, as a complementary committee for systematic collection and

Eventually the Clearing House brought American donors to the point where
they would actually mark the contents of boxes, but there was always
great waste in not passing upon the serviceability of shipments until
they had reached Paris and great delay in having to pack and re-sort
them there. The secondhand material which came was of fair quality, but
not sufficient in quantity. And while people here in the United States
were always willing to contribute money generously they seemed
disinclined to have goods bought outside this country. The result was
that the American Relief Clearing House in Paris never had a sufficient
accumulation against emergency. At the time of the first great offensive
against Verdun, in the spring of 1916, it was compelled to send out all
of the supplies which it held and to appeal to the United States for
more clothes, food, and the like, which meant all of a six weeks' delay.

Such a state of things could not exist in our Red Cross work there. And
yet the problem in this very phase that confronted Major Murphy and his
party was tremendous. The Compagnie Générale Transatlantique had just
notified the Clearing House that it could no longer afford to supply
free space; and in view of the subsequent shipping situation, the heavy
torpedoing, and the army demand for tonnage, it is considered not
improbable that had the Clearing House continued it would have had to
give up handling anything except money. Yet in spite of obstacles, the
Red Cross would have to purchase and store supplies--not in the
quantities that the Clearing House had purchased and stored them, but in
far, far greater number.

Major Murphy met the problem squarely, as was his way. He cabled to
America, and seven men were sent to him late in September, 1917. They
were men taken from various corners of the country, but all of them
expert in the task allotted to them. At once they began the work of
coördinating the vast problem of American Red Cross purchase and supply.
There was large need for them; for, while at the very beginning of our
Red Cross work over there, while its problem, because of its vastness
and its novelty, was still quite largely a question of guesswork,
purchases were made for each department as it requisitioned material or
was stored for them individually. Such a method was quickly outgrown,
and was bound to be succeeded by a far better one, which, as we shall
see presently, finally did come to pass.

From the beginning the main warehouses, like the main garages, of the
American Red Cross in France have been located in the headquarters city
of Paris. Providing these facilities was one of the first tasks that
confronted Major Murphy. And to understand the promptitude with which he
met this task understand, if you will, that by the following September
he already had six warehouses in Paris, organized with a capacity to
handle 10,000 tons of supplies a month, which might quickly be increased
to 60,000 tons a month. As a matter of fact, before Armistice Day was
reached there were fourteen of these warehouses and they actually were
handling some 10,000,000 tons a month.

The nucleus of this warehouse organization was again the American Relief
Clearing House. It gave the first three of the store buildings. The next
three were obtained by Major Murphy's organization, with the typical
keenness of American business men who, having donated their services and
their abilities to our great adventure overseas, purposed to make those
services and abilities work to their highest possibilities.

Warehouses to be effective and efficient must have not only good
locations, but appropriate railroad connections and modern equipment for
handling their supplies; this is primary. The French, themselves, long
since have recognized it as such. And because the freight terminal
tracks at Paris are so abundant and so generally well planned there were
plenty of warehouses there, if one could but find them. To find them was
not so hard a task, even during the war, if one but had the time. There
was the rub. The Red Cross did not have the time; there was not a day,
not an hour, to be wasted. It needed storage space at once--ships with
hundreds and thousands of tons of Red Cross relief supplies already were
at the docks of French ports. More were on their way across the
Atlantic. Space to store these cargoes must be found--and found
immediately. By October 1, 1917, our Red Cross had twenty-one storage
centers in France, giving it 5,000,000 cubic feet of space as against
but 50,000 three months earlier. The largest unit was a sugar warehouse
in the wholesale center of Paris, a five-story stone structure with
twelve hoists, two railroad tracks on the outside, and two within.

These facilities cost money, of course. And that in some instances they
cost more money because time was a large factor in the question can
hardly be denied. Yet economy was practiced as well as speed. This is
record fact. Our Red Cross in France did not permit itself to become a
waster; even in emergencies which called for a saving of time--no matter
at what expense--it carefully watched the outgoing of dollars.

When, for instance, it sought to obtain one of the largest of its needed
Parisian warehouses--a really huge structure with 2,500,000 cubic feet
of storage space and served by two railroad tracks thrust into its very
heart--it tried to drive a good Yankee bargain. The place had been found
after a day of seemingly hopeless and heartless search. Its owner was
located and the rental cost discussed briefly. The owner wanted ninety
centimes (approximately seventeen cents) a square meter. The Red Cross
agents demurred. They counter-offered with eighty centimes. The owner

"Shake!" said the chief of the party. They clasped hands.

"Never mind the formal papers now," laughed our Yankee Red Cross
bargainer, "we'll take each other's word. I haven't a minute to lose, as
we must have the place ready for supplies within forty-eight hours."

"Impossible!" cried the French landlord. He knew the real condition of
the place, which had been unused and unrepaired for months.

Yet within forty-eight hours the Red Cross supplies from overseas
actually were being moved in. Immediately upon closing the deal, the
Americans had sought labor. It was not to be found, they were told; all
the surplus labor of Paris being in the trenches or else engaged in some
work vital to the war's operations.

"Why not use _permissionnaires_?" some one suggested.

The hint was a good one. It so happened that the French Government
already had consented to the employment of this very sort of labor by
the American Red Cross. So down to the larger railroad stations of Paris
hurried our Red Cross agents. Soldiers back from the trenches were given
the opportunity to earn a few francs--and gladly accepted it. Within a
few hours a crew of more than a hundred men had been gathered and the
work of making the newly acquired property ready to receive supplies
begun. And under American supervision it was completed--within the
allotted two days.

This experience was repeated a few weeks later when the American Red
Cross took over the old stables of the Compagnie Générale des Petites
Voitures in the Rue Chemin du Vert as still another warehouse and had to
clean and make them fit for supplies--all within a mere ten days. The
Compagnie Générale des Petites Voitures was an ancient Parisian
institution. It operated--of all the vehicles perhaps the most
distinctive upon the streets of the great French capital--the little
victoria-like _fiacre_, drawn by a wise and ancient horse with a bell
about its neck. The war had drained the city of most of its horses--they
were in the French artillery--and for a long time before the coming of
our Red Cross the great stables in the Rue Chemin du Vert had been idle;
in fact for the first time in more than half a century.

In taking over the place the officers of the American Red Cross were not
blind to the fact that they were getting nothing more than a great,
rambling, two-story stable and its yards, which were just as they had
been left when a thousand horses had been led forth from their stalls.
The place was a fearful litter of confusion, while crowded together at
one end of the courtyard were the old _fiacres_--ancient,
weather-beaten, decrepit, abandoned. They made a pathetic picture.

Rumor told the neighborhood, and told it quickly, that the _Croix Rouge
Américaine_--as the French know our organization over there--had taken
over the old stables and were to use them for warehousing purposes, but
rumor was not smart enough to tell how the trick was to be done. It did
not know; the Red Cross workers did. They had found after making a
careful inventory of the place, that they had on their hands about 8,000
square yards of ground, covered for the greater part with more or less
dilapidated buildings a hundred years old or even older. More than that,
there were five hundred tons of manure in the structures which must be
completely removed and the premises thoroughly disinfected before there
could be even a thought of using them for goods storage. Cleaning the
Augean stables was something of the same sort of a job.

Various Parisian contractors who specialize in that sort of work were
asked what they would charge for the task of getting the big stables
clean once again. One said seven thousand francs. Another allowed that
it would cost five thousand. He was the lowest bidder. The Red Cross
turned from all of them and went to the market gardeners of the great
central Halles. Would they help? Of course they would--the name of the
_Croix Rouge Américaine_ has some real potency in France. In four days
the stables were cleaned--perfectly and at an entire cost of less than
two hundred francs!

Then, with the aid of a hundred workmen, the work of rehabilitating them
was begun. At that time in Paris carpenters were not to be had for love
or for money, so every available Red Cross man who knew how to saw a
piece of wood or who could drive a nail without hitting his thumb--and
at that, there were many thumbs jammed before the job was entirely
done--was pressed into service. From the famous Latin Quarter of Paris
came many volunteers, some of them American painters and sculptors more
familiar with working tools of other sorts, but all fired with a zeal
and a determination to help. Such a prodigious din of work the
neighborhood could not easily remember!

Lumber was scarce, almost unobtainable in fact. That did not discourage
our Red Cross. One of the lesser buildings in the compound was quickly
marked for destruction and actually was torn down in order to supply the
lumber needed for the repair of the others. Windows were put in and
glazed, doors were hung, wall derricks and hoistways rigged, roofs made
water-tight, and the ancient cobbles of the courtyard scrubbed until
they were almost blue in their faces. All the stables, the vehicle
rooms, and the office quarters were disinfected, electric lights were
installed in every corner, fire extinguishers hung throughout the
buildings, telephones placed in each department, racks and bins for
supplies constructed, lettered, and numbered, smooth cement walks laid
to connect each building with its fellows--and not until all of this was
done did the Red Cross men who had volunteered for the long hours of
hard manual labor really dare stop for a deep breath.

"Talk about Hercules," laughed one of them when it was all done. "He had
better look to his old laurels. He never did a job like this--in ten

It took the folk of the neighborhood a long time to realize what had
happened in ten days.

Yet there it was--if so you were pleased to call it--one of the largest
"retail-wholesale" stores in all Paris, with some 15,000 tons of
supplies in place in the racks within a fortnight after the herculean
and record-breaking cleansing task had been finished; and fresh stuff
arriving daily to meet the needs of the hard-pressed peasantry and
soldiers of France. And in a little time to perform similar service for
the men of our own army and navy over there. Yet, unlike any other
general store in the world--wholesale or retail--this Red Cross one was
open for business every hour of the day or the night. Comfortable
quarters were prepared and furnished for six workers, who volunteered to
live in the warehouse and so be prepared at any hour of the night to
receive and execute an emergency call for supplies.

One huge task of this particular warehouse was the re-sorting of
volunteer or donated shipments. From a period in the early progress of
the war the Red Cross accepted only supplies shipped to its general
stores--in no case whatsoever to individual organizations--and ordered
that all goods should be sorted and re-packed in France for distribution
there. So one big room in the Rue Chemin du Vert was turned over to this
work. It never lacked variety. In one actual instance a big box sent
from some city in the Middle West burst open and the first thing that
met the gaze of the Red Cross warehouse workers was a white satin
high-heeled party slipper poking its head out for a look at "gay Paree."
And it was by no means the only tribute of this sort that thoughtless
America gave to starving France. There sometimes were real opportunities
for censorship in the re-sorting room.

       *       *       *       *       *

A man who went to this great warehouse in the early days of its
existence brought back a vivid picture of its activities.

"As one entered the long, wide courtyard through the great arch from the
street--an arch, by the way, which reminded me wonderfully of the
Washington Arch at the foot of Fifth Avenue, New York," said he, "and
caught a glimpse of the flags of France and America--and the Red
Cross--floating over it, he became immediately impressed with the
militarylike activity of the entire place. This was heightened by the
presence of a number of French soldiers and some fifty Algerians in
their red fezzes, who were at work on crates and boxes. Three or four
big gray camions were waiting at the upper end of the yard while the
workmen loaded them. Opposite were what had once been the extensive
stable structures, now clean and only reminiscent of their former
tenants in the long line of chain halters hanging motionless against the
walls. Here the bulkier, non-perishable goods were stored.

"Halfway up the entrance yard began the series of rooms whose shelves,
fashioned ingeniously from packing cases, contained the great supplies
of condensed milk, tobacco, sugar, soap, pork, canned beef, and rice.
Overhead, on what was once the great hayloft of the stables, were the
cubicles where were stacked the paper-wrapped bundles of new clothing
for men, women, and children, every package marked with the size, and
the _sabots_ with thick wooden soles and the sturdy leathern
uppers--enough to outfit a whole townful of people.

"Across a 'Bridge of Sighs'--the opportunity to call it that is quite
too good to be lost--to another building, one came upon stores of
chairs, bucksaws, farm implements, boxes of window glass, bedside
tables, wicker reclining chairs, iron beds, mattresses, pillows,
bolsters, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and comforters. Through a wide
doorway whose lintel was a rough hand-hewn beam as thick as a man's body
and a century old, were the dormitory and the messroom of the red-fezzed
Algerians who, by the way, were under the command of two French
officers. Next came the lofts, with their bins of crutches, surgical
dressings, rubber sheeting, absorbent cotton, enamel ware, bright copper
sterilizers, and boxes of rubber gloves for hospital use. Still another
building housed the immense supplies of wool gloves and socks, pajamas,
sweaters, and women's and children's underwear and high stacks of brown
corduroy jackets and trousers, for the Red Cross sought to furnish to
the peasant just the same sort of clothing that he and his father's
grandfather were accustomed to wear; even to the beloved _béret_.

"Throughout the storage building one came across evidences of the manner
in which every available bit of old wood was utilized for reconstruction
in order to avoid further expenditure. Bins and racks were made of
ancient doors and window frames and crates had been carefully fashioned
into delivery counters. In fact small 'branch stores' for the
distribution of goods in less than box or crate lots were established in
every corner of the Rue Chemin du Vert warehouse, with clerks always in
attendance upon them. In this way it was as easy to fit out an
individual with what he or she needed as to fit out an entire community,
and the reverse.

"On the right side of the main courtyard, running back from the
administration offices, were the long, narrow shipping rooms where the
bundles called for were made up from the stock which lined the walls and
were tagged and addressed by a corps of young women; the crate lots
being attended to by the men in the courtyard below. Still farther on
was the department which received the packages of used clothing, of
knitted goods, or the other things sent by humane persons in countless
cities of America and France to the needy ones in the fighting lines, or
back of them. Below and beyond this room were the coal bins, the
carpenter's shop, in which tables and bedside stands constantly were
being turned out from new lumber, and the 'calaboose,' for the benefit
of an occasionally recalcitrant Algerian. And adjoining the main
courtyard was still another room almost as large; and this last was the
place of receipt of all supplies. Here they were inspected, counted, and
assigned to their proper buildings and compartments. The entire place
was a great hive, literally a hive of industry. And the people of the
neighborhood never passed its arched entrance without first stopping to
look in, it all was so amazing to them. They wondered if there ever
could have been a time when a thousand horses were stabled there."

Upon the day of the signing of the armistice and for many months
thereafter Warehouse No. 1 in the Rue Chemin du Vert remained a busy
hive of industry. It still handled almost every conceivable sort of
commodity, and perhaps the only difference in its appearance from the
day that the graphic New Yorker saw it was that German prisoners--each
with a doggedly complacent look upon his face and a large "P. G." upon
his back,--had replaced the Algerians for the hard manual labor. It
continued to employ fifteen men and women in its office and from
thirty-five to forty Red Cross workers, American or French, while the
value of the stock constantly kept on hand was roughly estimated at
close to $2,000,000. From thirty-five to forty tons were daily being
sent out. Yet how was a stock valuation of $2,000,000 really to be
compared with one of $2,500,000 in warehouse No. 6 in the Rue Cambrai or
$3,000,000 at No. 24 in the Rue Curial? And these were but three of
eleven Red Cross warehouses in Paris at the time of the armistice. And a
report issued very soon after showed twenty-nine other warehouses of the
American Red Cross in France, eight of them in the city of Dijon, which,
because of its strategic railroad location, was a store center of
greatest importance for our army over there.

Perhaps you like facts with your picture.

Well, then, returning from the picture of the thing to the fact, we find
at the time of the first definite general organization of our Red Cross
in France--in September, 1917--a Bureau of Transportation and Supplies
was formed under the direction of Mr. R. H. Sherman. A little later a
slightly more comprehensive organization was charted, and a separate
Bureau of Supplies created, with Mr. Joseph R. Swan as its immediate
director. This was subdivided into four main sections: Paris Warehouses,
Outside Warehouses, Receiving, and Shipping. This organization remained
practically unchanged until the general reorganization plan of August,
1918, which we have already seen, when the bureau became the Section of
Stores and, as such, a factor, and a mighty important factor, of the
Division of Requirements.

From that time forward the problem was one of growth, great growth,
rather than that of organization. It was a problem of finding
warehouses to accommodate our supplies over there; of finding competent
men to oversee and operate the warehouses, and then, in due order, of
keeping the supplies moving through the warehouses and out to the men at
the front. In due course we shall see how these supplies functioned. For
the moment consider the fact that in an initiatory six weeks, from
October 11 to November 30, 1917, Mr. Swan submitted a detailed account
showing how he had invested nearly $8,000,000 in the purchase of general
stores for our Red Cross. In the press of emergency work--there hardly
was a month or a day from our arrival in France until after the signing
of the armistice when the situation could not have been fairly described
as emergency--it was possible to take but one general inventory. That
was made, for accounting purposes, as of February 24, 1918, and showed
the value of the American Red Cross stores then on hand in its
warehouses in France to be 33,960,999.49 francs, well over $6,000,000.
At the first of the following November--eleven days before the signing
of the armistice--another inventory was taken. The stocks had grown.
There were in the principal warehouses of the Red Cross alone and
including its stock of coal upon the Quai de la Loire supplies valued at
46,452,018.80 francs, or close to $9,000,000. Figures are valuable when
they mount to sizes such as these.

Yet figures cannot tell the way in which the warehousing organization of
the American Red Cross met the constant emergencies which confronted it.
Like the Transportation Department, it was forever and at all times on
the job. For instance, from the beginning of that last German advance,
in the Ides of March, 1918, until it was reaching its final fearful
thrusts--late in June and early in July--there was on hand, night and
day, a crew at the warehouse, which had been fashioned from a former
taxicab stables in the Rue Chemin du Vert, a complete crew to load
camions by the dozens, by the hundreds, if necessary. In such a
super-emergency no six men housed in the plant would do; for there were
nights on which twenty, thirty, and even forty of the big camions went
rolling out through that great archway with their supplies for our boys
at the front--the very boys who so soon were to play their great part in
the supreme victories of the war. On those summer nights warehouse work
was speeded up, to put it very mildly indeed. Men worked long hours
without rest and with but a single thought--the accomplishment of real
endeavor while there yet remained time to save Paris and all the rest of
France. And in such spirit is victory born.

       *       *       *       *       *

Do not, I pray you, conceive the idea that all the warehouse work was
done in Paris. I have hinted at the importance of Dijon, the great army
store center, as a Red Cross stores center, and have, myself, stood in
the great American Red Cross warehouse upon the lining of the inner
harbor of St. Nazaire and have with mine own eyes seen 8,000 cases
stacked under their capacious roofs--foodstuffs and clothing and
comforts and hospital supplies which came forever and in a steady stream
from the transports docking at that important American receiving point,
and have known of warehouses to be established in strange quarters,
stranger sometimes than the abandoned stables of the horse-drawn
taxicabs of Paris, here in an ancient exposition building upon the
outskirts of a sizable French city, there in a convent, and again in a
church or a school, or even again in a stable.

Here was a little town, not many miles back from the northern front. The
Red Cross determined to set up a warehouse there, both for military and
civilian relief supplies. An agent from the Paris headquarters went up
there to confer with the local representative in regard to the proper
location for the plant. The local man favored one building, the Paris
representative another which was nearer to the railroad station. While
they argued as to the merits of the two buildings German airmen flew
over the town and destroyed one of them. And before they could
compromise on the other, the French Government requisitioned it as a

Now was a time for deep thought rather than compromise. And deep thought
won--it always does. Deep thought moved the American Red Cross warehouse
into the ancient seminary there, even though that sturdy structure had
been pretty well peppered by the _boche_. When the Red Cross moved in,
you still could count fifty-one distinct shell holes in it; another and
a final one came while it still was in the process of adaptation to
warehouse uses. In this badly battered structure lived the Red Cross
warehouse man and his three assistants--all of them camion
chauffeurs--after they had put forty-five panes of glass in with their
own hands. Then the supply of glass ran out. In the former chapel of the
seminary fourteen great window frames had to be covered with muslin,
which served, after a fashion, to keep out the stress of weather.
Twenty-seven of the precious panes of glass went into the office--where
daylight was of the greatest necessity. The rest were used, in
alternation with the muslin, for the living quarters, where the Red
Cross men cooked their own meals, in the intervals between dealing out
warehouse supplies. It was hard work, but the chauffeurs did not
complain. Indeed it so happened that their chief did most of the

"What is the use?" he sputtered one afternoon while the war still was a
day-by-day uncertainty. "Those boys will put in a big day's work, every
one of them, come home and not know enough to go to bed. Like as not
they will take a couple of hours and climb up some round knoll to watch
the artillery fire. When the town was in the actual line of fire--not
more than a fortnight ago--one of them turned up missing. He had been
with us only a moment before, so we began hunting through the warehouse
for him. Where do you suppose we found him? Let me tell you: he was up
in the belfry, the biggest and the best target in the town. Said he
wanted to see where the shells were striking. I told him to come down,
the Red Cross wasn't paying him for damn foolishness. But you couldn't
help liking the nerve of the boy, could you?"

       *       *       *       *       *


How it did run hand in hand with endeavor all through the progress of
this war. And it was not limited to the men of the actual fighting
forces. The Red Cross had more than its even share of it. The great,
appealing roll of honor in the Hotel Regina headquarters--the list of
the American Red Cross men and women who gave their lives in the service
of their country--was mute evidence of this. Courage in full measure,
and yet never with false heroics. Full of the sturdy everyday courage,
the courage of the casual things, exemplified, for instance, in this
letter from the files of the Stores Section, written by the agent in
charge of another of its warehouses in northern France:

"A shipment of four rolls of oiled cloth arrived most opportunely a few
days ago and one roll is being employed locally to repair the many panes
of window glass destroyed in last night's air raid. In connection with
this raid it may be added that one of our chauffeurs nearly figured as a
victim of this raid, the window in his lodging being blown in and a
large hole knocked in the roof of his house.

"I presume that it is violating no military secret to add that another
raid from the _boches_ is looked for to-night and in case it does come
the other rolls of window cloth may come into play...."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in these very days of the great spring offensive of 1918, that
the Supplies Department, like the Transportation Department of our Red
Cross overseas, began to have its hardest tests. For in addition to the
regular routine of its great warehousing function, there came, with the
rapidly increasing number of troops, hospitals and refugees, rapidly
increasing special duties for it to perform; greatly increased
quantities of goods to be shipped. And I think it but fair to state
that without the vision of one man, Major Field, there might not have
been many supplies to ship. Immediately after his appointment as Chief
of the Bureau of Supplies, Major Field began to purchase goods, in great
quantities and an almost inconceivable variety. He bought in the French
market, in the English market, in the Spanish market, from the
commissary stores of the United States Army--in fact from every
conceivable corner and source of supply; as well as from some which
apparently were so remote as hardly to be even conceivable. He stored
away beds, tents, sheets, clothing, toilet articles, and cases of
groceries by the thousands, and still continued to buy. The Red Cross
gasped. The A. E. F. protested. The vast warehouses were filled almost
to the bursting point. Major Field listened to the protestations, then
smiled, and went out, buying still more supplies. His smile was cryptic,
and yet was not; it was the smile of confidence, the smile of serenity.
And both confidence and serenity were justified. For the days of the
drive showed--and showed conclusively--that if our American Red Cross
had not been so well stocked in supplies it would have failed in the
great mission overseas to which we had intrusted it.

"The ----th Regiment has moved up beyond its baggage train. Can the Red
Cross ship blankets and kits through to it?"

This was a typical emergency request--from an organization of three
thousand men. It was answered in the typical fashion--with a full
carload of blankets and other bedding. The kits followed in a truck.

"A field hospital is needed behind the new American lines," was another.
It, too, was answered promptly; with several carloads of hospital
equipment, surgical dressings, and drugs. These things sound simple, and
were not. And the fact that they were many times multiplied added
nothing to the simplicity of the situation. In fact there came a time
when it was quite impossible to keep any exact account of the tonnage
shipped, because the calls came so thick and fast and were so urgent
that no one stopped for the usual requisitions but answered any
reasonable demands. The requisition system could wait for a less
critical time, and did.

One day a message came that a certain field hospital was out of
ether--that its surgeons were actually performing painful operations
upon conscious men--all because the army had run out of its stock of
anæsthetics. The men at the American Red Cross supply headquarters
sickened at the very thought; they moved heaven and earth to start a
camion load of the precious ether through to the wounded men at the
field hospital, and followed it up with twenty-five truckloads of other
surgical supplies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Under the reorganization of the American Red Cross in France which was
effected under the Murnane plan, the entire work of purchase and
warehousing was brought under a single Bureau of Supplies, which was
ranked in turn as a Department of Supplies. This Bureau was promptly
subdivided into two sections: that of Stores and that of Purchases.
Taking them in the order set down in the official organization plan, we
find that the headquarters section of Stores--situated in Paris--was
charged with the operation of all central and port warehouses and their
contents and was to be in a position to honor all properly approved
requisitions from them, so far as was humanly possible. It was further
charged to confer with the comptroller of our French American Red Cross
organization and so to prepare a proper system and check upon these
supplies. In each of the nine zones there were to be subsections of
stores, answerable for operation to the Zone Manager and for policy to
the Paris headquarters, but so organized as to keep not only sufficient
supplies for all the ordinary needs of the zones, but in various
well-situated warehouses, enough for occasions of large emergency--and
all within comparatively short haul.

The Section of Purchases corresponded to the purchasing agent of a large
corporation. Remember that the purchasing opportunities in France were
extremely limited, so that by far the greater part of this work must be
performed by the parent organization here in the United States, and
sent--as were the circus tents--in response to requisitions, either by
cable or by mail. Incidentally, however, remember that no small amount
of purchasing for the benefit of our army and navy in France was done
both in England and in Spain, which, in turn, was a relief to the
overseas transport problem. For it must ever be remembered that the
famous "bridge across the Atlantic" was at all times, until after the
signing of the armistice at least, fearfully overcrowded. It was only
the urgent necessities of the Red Cross and its supplies that made it
successful in gaining the previous tonnage space east from New York, or
Boston, or Newport News. And even then the tonnage was held to
essentials; essentials whose absoluteness was almost a matter of

Yet even the essentials ofttimes mounted high. Before me lies a copy of
a cablegram sent from Paris to Washington early in January, 1919. It
outlines in some detail the foodstuff needs of the American Red Cross in
France for the next three months. Some of the larger items, in _tons_,

    Sugar      50
    Rice      100
    Tapioca    10
    Cheese     50
    Coffee     50
    Chocolate  50
    Cocoa     100
    Bacon      50
    Salt Pork  50
    Ham        50
    Prunes     50
    Soap      100
    Apricots   25
    Peaches    25

And all of this in addition to the 10,000 cases of evaporated milk,
5,000 of condensed milk, 3,000 of canned corn beef, 2,000 of canned
tomatoes, 1,000 each of canned corn and canned peas, and 1,000 gross of
matches, while the quantities ordered even of such things as cloves and
cinnamon and pepper and mustard ran to sizable amounts.

I have no desire to bore you with long columns or tables of figures--for
this is the story of our Red Cross with our army in France and not a
report. Yet, after all, some figures are impressive. And these given
here are enough to show that of all the cogs and corners of the big
machine, the Purchase and Stores sections of the organization in France
had its full part to do.



By July, 1917, the first Divisions of our amazing army began to seep
into the battle countries of Europe. It had not been the intention of
either our War Department or its general staff to send the army overseas
until the first of 1918; the entire plan of organization and preparation
here in the United States had been predicated upon such a program. Yet
the situation overseas was dire indeed. Three years of warfare--and such
warfare--had begun to fag even the indomitable spirits of England and of
France. The debacle of Russia was ever before the eyes of these nations.
In the words of their own leaders, their morale was at its lowest point.
France, in one glorious moment in 1917, had seemed, under the leadership
of Nivelle, to be close to the turning point toward victory. But she had
seen herself miss the point, and was forced again in rugged doggedness
to stand stoutly with England and hold the line for the democracy of the

In such an hour there was no opportunity for delay; not even for the
slight delay incidental to raising an American Army of a mere half
million, training it in the simplest possible fashion, and then
dispatching it overseas. Such a method would have been more gratifying
to our military pride. We sacrificed that pride, and shall never regret
the hour of that decision. We first sent hospital detachments from our
army medical service to be brigaded with the British, who seemed to have
suffered their most severe losses in their hospital staffs, and sent
engineer regiments not only to build the United States Military
Railroad, of which you have already read, but also to aid the weakened
land transport sections of the French and British armies. And General
John J. Pershing, with adequate staff assistance, crossed to Paris to
prepare for the first and all-glorious American campaign in Europe.

A typical A. R. C. dugout just behind the lines]

"The program had been carefully drawn up," wrote Lieutenant Colonel
Repington, the distinguished British military critic, in a review on the
performance of our army in the _London Morning Post_, of December 9,
1918. "It anticipated the orderly arrival in France of complete units,
with all their services, guns, transport, and horses, and when these
larger units had received a finishing course in France and had been
trained up to concert pitch it was intended to put them into the line
and build up a purely American Army as rapidly as possible. After
studying the situation, the program and the available tonnage in those
days, I did not expect that General Pershing could take the field with a
trained army of accountable numbers much before the late summer or
autumn of 1918."

Yet by the first day of January, 1918, there were already in France four
American Divisions, each with an approximate strength of 28,153 men, by
February there were six Divisions, and by March, eight. It is fair to
say, however, that even by March only two of the Divisions were fit to
be in the line, and none in the other active sectors. Training for
modern warfare is indeed an arduous task. Yet our amazing army did not
shirk it, and even in the dispiriting and terrifying days of the spring
of 1918 kept to its task of preparing itself for the great ordeal just
ahead, and, almost at the very hour that the last great German drive
began to assume really serious proportions, was finishing those
preparations. Ten Divisions were ready, before the spring was well
advanced, to stand shoulder to shoulder with British Divisions should
such an unusual course have been found indispensable. In fact,
anticipating this very emergency, brigading with the British had already
been begun. But as the British reinforcements began pouring into
Northern France the possibilities of the emergency arising diminished.
And five of our Divisions were returned south into the training camps
of the United States Army.

The War Department figures of the size of our army in France throughout
1918--which at the time could not be made public, because of military
necessities--tell the story of its rapid growth. They show the number of
Divisions in France and in line and in reserve to have been as follows:

    _1918            In France     In Line and Reserve_
    April 1              10                 3
    May                  13                 4
    June                 16                 6
    July                 24                 9
    August               32                20
    September            37                25
    October              40                31
    November             42                30

This tabulation takes no count whatsoever of the noncombatants of the S.
O. S.--as the army man knows the Service of Supplies--or the other great
numbers of men employed in the rearward service of the United States
Army. It is perhaps enough to say that the largest number of our troops
employed in France was on September 26, the day that General Pershing
began his Meuse-Argonne offensive. On that day our army consisted of
1,224,720 combatants and 493,764 noncombatants, a total of 1,718,484 men
in its actual forces.

It is known now that if the war had continued we should probably have
doubled those figures within a comparatively few months and should have
had eighty Divisions in France by April, 1919, which would have made the
United States Army by all odds the most considerable of any of the
single belligerent nations fighting in France.

We have told elsewhere a little of the romance of the transport of our
men; here in cold figures--statistics which scorn romance in their
composition--is their result. We shall see through our Red Cross
spectacles again and again the performances of that army, as the men
and the women of the American Red Cross saw them.

In the meantime let us turn again, therefore, to Lieutenant Colonel
Repington, whose reputation in this regard is well established, and find
him saying of the commanding general of our army:

"To my mind, there is nothing finer in the war than the splendid good
comradeship which General Pershing displayed throughout, and nothing
more striking than the determined way in which he pursued the original
American plan of making the American arms both respected and feared. The
program of arrivals, speeded up and varied in response to the appeal of
the Allies, involved him in appalling difficulties, from which the
American army suffered to the last. His generous answer to cries for
help in other sectors left him for long stretches almost, if not quite,
without an army. He played the game like a man by his friends, but all
the time with a singleness of purpose and a strength of character which
history will applaud; he kept his eyes fixed on the great objective
which he ultimately attained and silenced his detractors in attaining
it. To his calm and steadfast spirit we owe much. To his staff, cool
amidst the most disturbing events, impervious to panic, rapid in
decision, and quick to act, the allied world owes a tribute. To his
troops, what can we say? They were crusaders. They came to beat the
Germans and they beat them soundly. They worthily maintained the
tradition of their race. They fought and won for an idea."

Truer words have not been written. To one who has made even a
superficial study of our army in France, the figure of the doughboy--the
boy from the little home in Connecticut or Kansas or Oregon--looms large
indeed. I did not, myself, see him in action. Other and abler pens have
told and are still telling of his unselfishness, his audacity, his
seemingly unbounded heroism both in the trenches and upon the open field
of battle. The little rows of crosses in the shattered forest of the
Argonne or upon the roads leading from Paris into Château-Thierry,
elsewhere over the face of lovely France, tell the story of his
sacrifice more graphically than any pen may ever tell it.

Frequently I have seen the doughboy in Paris as well as in the other
cities and towns and in our military camps in France. He is an amusing
fellow. One can hardly fail to like him. I have talked with him--by the
dozens and by the hundreds. I have argued with him, for sometimes we
have failed to agree. But I have never failed to sympathize, or to
understand. Nor, as for that matter, to appreciate. No one who has seen
the performance of our amazing army in France, or the immediate results
of that performance, can fail to appreciate. If you are a finicky person
you may easily see the defects that haste brought into the making of our
expeditionary army--waste in material and in personnel here and there;
but, after all, these very defects are almost inherent in any
organization raised to meet a supreme emergency, and they appear
picayune indeed when one places them alongside the marvel of its
performance--when one thinks of Château-Thierry or Saint Mihiel or the

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not the province of this book to describe the operations of our
army in France except in so far as they were touched directly by the
operations of our Red Cross over there. So, back to our text. You will
recall that Major Grayson M.-P. Murphy, our first Red Cross Commissioner
to France, and his staff arrived in Paris coincidently with General
Pershing on the thirteenth of June, 1917. They went right to work,
despite terrific odds, in the building of a working organization. At
about the hour of their coming there was developing here in the United
States a rather distinct feeling in certain widespread religious and
philanthropic organizations that they should be distinctly represented
in our war enterprise in Europe. The patriotism that stirred these great
organizations was admirable; it was unmistakable, and finally resulted
in certain of the larger ones--the Young Men's Christian Association,
the Knights of Columbus, the Young Women's Christian Association and the
Salvation Army--being given definite status in the war work overseas. In
the case of the Y. M. C. A.--by far the largest of all these
organizations--it was allotted the major problem of providing
entertainment for the enlisted men and the officers at the camps in
France, in England, in Italy and, in due time, in the German valley of
the Rhine. At a later hour the very difficult problem of providing
canteens, that would be, in effect, nothing more nor less than huge post
exchanges, was thrust upon the Y. M. C. A. It accepted the problem--not
gladly, but in patriotic spirit--and even though the experiment brought
upon its shoulders much thoughtless and bitter criticism, saw it bravely

The Y. M. C. A. therefore, was to undertake, speaking by and large, the
canteen problem of the camps, while that of the hospitals, the docks at
the ports of debarkation and embarkation, the railroad junctions, and
the cities of France was handed to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross
began its preparations for this particular part of its task by
establishing stations for the French Army, which, pending the arrival of
the American forces, would serve admirably as experiment stations. Major
Murphy at once conferred with the French military authorities and, after
finding from them where their greatest need lay, proceeded without delay
to the establishment of model canteens on the French lines of
communication; in the metropolitan zone of Paris and at the front. And
before our army came, and the great bulk of the work of our Red Cross
naturally shifted to it, these early canteens supplied rations to
literally millions of French soldiers.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In view of keeping up the good spirits of troops it is indispensable
that soldiers on leave be able to find, while waiting at railroad
stations in the course of their journeys, canteens which will allow
them to have comfortable rest and refreshment. Good results have already
been obtained in this direction, but it is necessary to improve the
canteens already existing and to create new ones in stations that do not
already have them."

The above is a translation of a quotation from a note written by the
French Minister of War to a general of his army, at about the time of
our first Red Cross Commission over there. If one were to attempt to
translate between the lines he would be certain to find that the
soldiers going home on leave or discharge, obliged to wait long hours in
railroad stations, sometimes without food or other comforts, and
ofttimes, too, forced to sleep upon a cold, stone-flagged floor, had
often a greatly lowered morale as the result of such an experience. And
if their mental state was not lowered, their physical condition was
almost sure to be.

So it was that the American Red Cross jumped into the immediate
assistance of its rather badly burdened French brothers--the various
organizations of _Croix Rouge Française_. It seized as its most
immediate opportunity, Paris, and particularly the junction points of
the _Grande Ceinture_, the belt-line railroad which completely encircles
the outer environs of the city, and provides track-interchange
facilities for the various trunk-line railroads which enter her walls
from every direction. For lack of funds and a lack of personnel the
French Red Cross authorities were about to close some of the canteens
which they already had established upon the _Grande Ceinture_, while the
real necessity was that more should be opened. Such a disaster our
American Red Cross prevented. On July 18, 1917, Colonel Payot, Director
of the French Army Transports, wrote to H. H. Harjes--at that time
representative of the American Red Cross at the general headquarters of
the French Army--giving a list of railroad stations where canteens were
needed, and in the order of their urgency. In the correspondence which
followed between the French authorities and the American Red Cross,
various agreements were reached.

It was agreed that the French administration would furnish the necessary
buildings and provide electric light, running water, and coal for
heating. On the other hand, the American Red Cross undertook to furnish
all other supplies--cooking appliances, coal for cooking, equipment,
stores, medical supplies, and personnel. As early as July 31, Major
Perkins wrote that our American Red Cross was now ready to serve a full
meal at seventy-five centimes (fourteen or fifteen cents) a person, and
other drinks and dishes at small cost to the _poilu_. Men without funds
on receiving a voucher from the _Commissaire de la Gare_
(railroad-station agent) could obtain meals and hot drinks without
charge. The sale of wine, beer, and spirits was prohibited in our
canteens. And because of the French coöperation in their establishment,
they were named _Les Cantines des Deux Drapeaux_ and bore signs showing
both the Tricolor of France and our own Stars and Stripes, with their
designating name beneath.

The original list of outside stations suggested by the French
authorities were five in number: Pont d'Oye, Châlons, Épernay, Belfort,
and Bar-le-Duc. Finally it was decided to reduce this list--the hour of
the arrival of the American forces in number steadily drawing
nearer--and Châlons and Épernay were definitely chosen for American Red
Cross canteen work. At that time both of these cities of the Champagne
district were well behind the lines; afterwards the Germans came too
close for comfort and shelled them badly, which meant the withdrawal of
the French troops and a closing of the neat canteens for a time; but
they were reopened. When I visited Épernay in January 1919, the Red
Cross canteen there was again open and in charge of two young ladies
from Watertown, N. Y.--the Misses Emma and Kate Lansing, sisters of the
then Secretary of State. You could not keep down the buoyant spirit of
our Red Cross.

Before the American Red Cross undertook to establish fully equipped
canteens--on the scale of those at Châlons and at Épernay--the London
Committee of the French Red Cross had been operating at many railroad
stations small canteens known as the _Gouttes de Café_, where coffee and
bouillon were served free to the soldiers in passing trains. In several
cases agreements were made with the French society by which certain
individual _Gouttes de Café_ passed to the control of the American Red
Cross and were, in other cases, absorbed in the larger installation
which it was prepared to support. This, however, took place only when
the demands of the situation really called for a larger canteen,
prepared to serve full meals and operate dormitories and a recreation
room. Occasionally it was found advisable for our Red Cross to
inaugurate a canteen of its very own, while the _Goutte de Café_
continued to carry on its own work on the station platform or in the
immediate vicinity.

I remember particularly the situation in the great central station of
the Midi Railroad in Bordeaux. This huge structure is a real focal point
of passenger traffic. From beneath its expansive train shed trains come
and go; to and from Paris and Boulogne and Biarritz and Marseilles and
many other points--over the busy lines, not only of the Midi, but of the
Paris-Orléans and the Etat. A great proportion of this traffic is
military, and long ago the French Red Cross sought to accommodate this
with a huge _Goutte de Café_ in a barnlike sort of room in the main
station structure and opening direct upon its platforms. I glanced at
this place. It was gloomy and ill-lighted by the uncertain, even though
dazzling, glow of one or two electric arc lights. It was fearfully
overcrowded. _Poilus_ occupied each of the many seats in the room and
flowed over to the floor, where they sat or reclined as best they might
on the benches or on their luggage. The place was ill-ventilated, too.
It was not one that offered large appeal.

How different the appearance of the canteen of our own Red Cross. It
had a far less advantageous location; well outside the station train
shed and only to be found by one who was definitely directed to it. Two
buildings had been erected and another adapted for the canteen. They
were plain enough outside, but inside they were typically
American--which meant that light and color and warmth had been combined
effectively to produce the effect of a home that might have been in
Maine, or Ohio, or Colorado, or California, or any other nice corner of
the old U. S. A. There was homelike atmosphere, too, in the long, low
buildings enhanced by the unforgetable aroma of coffee being made--being
made American style, if you please. That building boasted a long
counter, and upon the counter miniature mountains of ham sandwiches and
big brown doughnuts--sandwiches and doughnuts which actually had been
fabricated from white flour--and ham sandwiches with a genuine flavor to
them. And all in great quantity--2,000 meals in a single day was no
unusual order--and for a price that was nominal, to put it lightly.

In another building there were more of the lights and the warm yellows
and greens of good taste in decoration; a big piano with a doughboy at
it some twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four--whole companies of
divans and regiments of easy-chairs: American newspapers, many weekly
publications, a lot of magazines, and books in profusion. The room was
completely filled, but somehow one did not gain the sensation of its
being crowded. The feeling that one carried from the place was that a
bit of the U. S. A. had been set right down there at the corner of the
great and busy chief railway terminal of the French city of Bordeaux.
Only one forgot Bordeaux.

       *       *       *       *       *

What was done at Bordeaux--and also at St. Nazaire and Nantes and Brest
and Tours and Toul and many, many other points--by our Red Cross in the
provision of canteen facilities was repeated in Paris, only on a far
larger scale than at any other point. The A. R. C. L. O. C. canteens in
Paris--there seems to be no holding in check that army passion for
initialization--soon after the signing of the armistice had reached
fourteen in number, of which about half were located in or close to the
great railroad passenger terminals of the city. The others were hotels,
large or small, devoted in particular to the housing of the doughboy and
his officers on the occasions of their leaves to the capital--for no
other point in France, not even the attractions of Biarritz or the sunny
Riviera, can ever quite fill the place in the heart of the man in khaki
that Paris, with all her refinements and her infinite variety of
amusements, long since attained. These last canteens we shall consider
in greater detail when we come to find our doughboy on leave. For the
present we are seeing him still bound for the front, the war still in
action, the great adventure still ahead.

A single glance at the records of the organization of the Army and Navy
Department under which the canteen work along the lines of communication
is grouped at the Paris headquarters of the American Red Cross, shows
that it was not until February, 1918, that the inrush of the American
Army in France had assumed proportions ample enough to demand a
segregation of canteen accommodations for it from those offered to the
_poilus_. As I have said, the canteens for the _poilus_ were in the
general nature of training or experimental stations for our really big
canteen job over there, and as such more than justified the trouble or
the cost; which does not take into the reckoning the valuable service
which they rendered the blue-clad soldiers of our great and loyal
friend--the French Republic.

Take Châlons, for instance: Châlons set an American Red Cross standard
for canteens, particularly for such canteens as would have to take care
of the physical needs and comforts of soldiers, perhaps in great
numbers. This early Red Cross station was set in a large barracks some
fifty yards distant from the chief railroad terminal of that busy town.
And, as it often happened that the leave permits of the _poilus_ did
not permit them to go into the town, a fenced passage, with a sentinel,
was builded from the train platforms to the canteen entrance. At that
entrance, a coat room where the soldier could check his bulky kit was

On going into the restaurant of the canteen one quickly discovered that
what might otherwise have been a dull and dreary barracks' interior had
been transformed by French artists--the French have a marvelous knack
for doing this very sort of thing--into a light, cheerful, and amusing
room. The effect on the _poilus_ who visited it for the first time was
instantaneous; they had not been used to that sort of thing.

At one end of the gay and happy room was the counter from which the
meals were served by the American women working in the canteen. The
soldier went first to the cashier and from her bought either a ticket
for a complete meal, or for any special dish that might appeal to his
fancy or to his jaded appetite. He then went to the counter, was handed
his food on a tray, and took it to one of the clean, white-tiled tables
that lined the room. Groups of friends might gather at a table. But no
one was long alone, unless he chose to be. Friendships are made quickly
in the spirit of such a place, and the chatter and laughter that
pervaded it reflected the gayety of its decorations.

After eating, if it was still summer, the _poilu_ might stroll in the
garden where there were seats, a pergola, even a Punch and Judy
Theater--for your Frenchman, be he Parisian or peasant, dearly loves his
_guignol_--or he might find his way to the recreation room, where there
were writing materials, games, magazines, lounging chairs, a piano and a
victrola. Here men might group around the piano and sing to their
hearts' content. And here the popularity of _Madelon_ was quite

And after all of this was done, he might retire to the dormitories with
absolute assurance that he would be called in full time for his
train--whether that train left at one o'clock in the morning or at
four. And if he so chose, in the morning might refresh himself in the
fully equipped washrooms, shower baths, or the barber shop, have his
coffee and eggs, his fruit and his beloved _confiture_ and go aboard the
train in the full spirit of a man at complete peace with the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

The orders that came in February, 1918, calling for the segregation of
the accommodations for the A. E. F. from those given to the French, did
not result in withdrawing financial support from Châlons and the other
canteens which our Red Cross had established particularly for the
_poilus_, but did result in the establishment of rest stations, or
canteens, exclusively for our own men. This organization of canteens
extended particularly along the lines of communication between the area
of action and the Service of Supplies zone, and was quite distinct from
the canteen organizations at the ports and the evacuation hospitals;
these last we shall come to consider when we see the part played by our
Red Cross in the entire hospital program of the A. E. F. The Lines of
Communication task was a real job in itself.

One could hardly rub the side of a magic lamp and have a completely
equipped canteen materialize as the fulfillment of a wish. Magic lamps
have not been particularly numerous in France these last few years. If
they had been France might have been spared at least some of her great
burden of sorrow. And so, even for our resourceful Red Cross, buildings
could not always be provided, nor chairs, nor counters, nor even stoves.
That is why at Vierzon, a little but a very busy railroad junction near
Nevers, there was, for many months, only a tent. But for each dawn of
all those months there was the cheering aroma of fresh coffee steaming
up into the air from six _marmites_, as the French know our giant coffee
containers. And the figures of American girls could be seen silhouetted
against the glow of bonfires, while the line of soldiers, cups in hand,
which started at that early hour, would continue for at least another
eighteen, or until well after midnight.

Remember, if you will, that making coffee for a canteen is not making it
for a household dining room. One does not measure it by teaspoonfuls. It
is an affair of pounds and of gallons. The water--ten gallons for each
_marmite_--was procured from a well which had been tested and adjudged
pure. The sandwiches, with their fillings of meat or of jelly, were not
the dainty morsels which women crumble between their fingers at bridge
parties. They were sandwiches fit for fighting men. They were the sort
that hungry soldiers could grip with their teeth.

Because of the necessary secrecy in reference to the exact numbers of
passing troops, in turn because of military necessities, the American
Red Cross was not permitted during the war to keep an exact record of
the number of men who visited its canteens. But where hundreds were
accommodated, even at as comparatively small a place as Vierzon,
thousands were fed at the larger places, such as Dijon or Toul, for
instance. And it is to be noted that in all these canteens food was
being served to regular detachments of the A. E. F. as well as to
casuals leaving or rejoining their commands.

In the great September drive of 1918 a canteen was set up by the
roadside at Souilly. Night and day and without intermission it was
maintained. It was there that stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers
were given hot drinks and warm food--all that they wanted of both--and
where sometimes they toppled over from sheer fatigue and wearied nerves.
From this one tent--and this is but one instance typical of many, many
others--three hundred gallons of chocolate were served daily. And while
bread was procured with the utmost difficulty, no boy was turned away
hungry. Many times the snacks of food so offered were, according to the
statements of the soldiers themselves, the first food that they had
received for three days.

And whether the canteen of our Red Cross was in a tent or a pine
structure with splintery and badly put together walls, or, as ofttimes
it was, in the corner of a baggage room of a railroad station, an
attempt was always made to beautify it. We learned several things from
the French since first we moved a part of America into their beloved
land, and this was one of them. The example of the Châlons canteen was
not lost. There is a psychological effect in decorative beauty that is
quite unmistakable; translated it has a definite and very real effect
upon that important thing that all really great army generals of to-day
know as morale. It was the desire for good morale, therefore, that
prompted the women of our Red Cross to decorate their canteens. And
because skilled decorative artists were not always at hand, as they were
as Châlons, makeshifts--ingenious ones at that--were often used.
Magazine covers could be fashioned into mighty fine wall posters. In
some instances, camouflage artists and their varied paint pots were
called into service. For window curtains materials of gay colors were
always chosen and, wherever it was possible, the lights were covered
with fancy shades, designed according to the individual taste or the
ingenuity of some worker.

Pianos were dug out of ruined houses or were even brought from captured
German dugouts. A _boche_ piano served as well as any other for the
"jazz" which we took to poor France from the United States. The pianos
in these Red Cross canteens hardly would have passed muster for a formal
concert. But that did not matter much. It mattered not that they had the
toothless look of old age about them, where the ivory keys had been
lost; they were still something which a homeless Yankee boy might
play--where he might still build for himself a bridge of favorite tunes
right back into the heart of his own beloved home.

At Issoudon, the canteen reached an ideal of organization not always
possible in some more isolated spots. At that point there was a mess
for officers, a canteen for enlisted men, and clubrooms with books and
the like for both. Moreover, a resthouse was inaugurated for officers
and men by the Red Cross for the accommodation of those who stayed there
overnight or even for a considerable number of hours. Eventually this
last project was absorbed by the army, which took it under its direct
control. The army knew a good thing when it saw it. The Issoudon
resthouse was a good thing. It served as a model for a much more
elaborate scheme of entertainment for our khaki-coated men which, at a
later time, was established by the American Red Cross in Paris. And
which--so far at least as the officers were concerned--also was taken
over by the army.

"A piece of fairyland" was the name that a doughboy with a touch of
sentiment gave to the canteen at Nevers. A gardener's lodge attached to
a château was loaned the American Red Cross by a titled and generous
lady. It possessed a "living room" and a dining room that needed few
changes, even of a decorative order. Upon the veranda, which commanded a
view of a gentle and seemingly perennial garden, were many easy-chairs,
while somewhere among these same hardy flowers was builded a temporary
barracks for the housing of casuals and for shower baths for the cleanly
comfort of the guests.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the course of my own travels through the Red Cross areas in Europe I
came to another canteen center other than that of the Bordeaux district,
which still clings to my memory. I am referring to Toul, that ancient
walled city of eastern France which has been a great fortress for so
many centuries that mortal man seems fairly to have lost count of them.
Few doughboys there are who traveled at all across the land of the
lilies who can easily forget Toul--that grim American army headquarters
close by its stone walls and ancient gates, a _marais_ of tight-set
buildings and narrow stone-paved streets and encircled by a row of
hills, which bore a row of fortresses. If the line had failed to hold at
Verdun or at Pont-à-Mousson, Toul would certainly have become the next
great battle ground, another gray city for which men might give their
short lives in order that it might continue its long one.

This "if" was not realized--thank God for that! And the French, with
their real generosity, realizing that the American headquarters in their
eastern territory must be a city of great accessibility and real
military strategic importance, quickly tendered Toul, which was accepted
by our army in the same generous spirit in which it was offered by our

With Toul settled as a military center the problem of the Red Cross in
connection with it at once became definite and important. It, of course,
demanded immediate as well as entirely comprehensive solution. And that
it had both was due very largely to the efforts of one woman, Miss Mary
Vail Andress, of New York.

Miss Andress, who was one of the very first group of women to be sent by
our Red Cross to France, arriving there August 24, 1917, came to Toul in
January, 1918. Captain Hugh Pritchitt, who had been assigned to the
command of the American Red Cross work at that American Army
headquarters point, already of great and growing importance, had
preceded her there by but four days, yet had already succeeded in making
a definite survey of the entire situation. Out of that survey, and the
more extended knowledge of the problem that came to the Red Cross folk
as they studied it in its details, came the big canteen activities. For
before the American Red Cross had been in the ancient French town a full
fortnight, the men of the American Expeditionary Forces began pouring
through it in great numbers. It takes only a single glance at the map to
realize the reason why; for to the east of Toul are Nancy,
Pont-à-Mousson, and the Lorraine line, while to the north and even a
little to the west one finds Saint Mihiel, Verdun, St. Menehold, and the
Argonne--places that already are household names all the way across
America, while from Toul to the south and west, even unto the blue
waters of the Atlantic, stretch the main stems of the United States
Military Railroad in France--that remarkable railroad which, as you
already know, really is no railroad whatsoever.

So do not wonder that at the ancient railway station just north of the
town walls and contiguous to the well-traveled Route de Paris, 1918 saw
more and more of the long special trains stopping and debouching boys in
khaki--hungry boys, thirsty boys, tired and dirty boys, and no provision
for the relief of any of these ordinary human miseries.

It was a real situation, and as such the New York woman in the steel
gray Red Cross uniform quickly sensed it. She moved toward its solution;
which was easier said than done. For one thing the Red Cross chiefs in
Paris, considering the thing judiciously from long range, were not at
all sure of its practicability. But Miss Andress had no doubts, and so
persisted at Paris until Paris yielded and permission was granted her to
start a small canteen; yet this was only the first step in the solution
of her problem. A second and even greater one was the securing of a
location for canteen facilities. The meager facilities of Toul, selected
as the field headquarters of an American Army, had been all but swamped
by the fearful demands made upon them. Yet Miss Andress, moving heaven
and earth itself, did secure a small apartment house in that same
well-traveled Route de Paris, which was well enough, so far as it went,
but did not go half far enough. She quickly determined that this
building would serve very well as a hotel or resthouse for the casual
soldiers and officers passing through the town, but that the real
canteen would have to be right at the station itself.

Now the station of the Eastern Railway at Toul was amply large for the
ordinary peace-time needs of the eleven thousand folk who lived in the
town, but long since its modest facilities had also been swamped by the
war-time necessities thrust upon it. It was humanly impossible to crowd
another single facility within its four tight brick walls. They told her
as much.

"I know that," said Miss Andress quietly. "We shall have to have a big
tent set up in the station yard. I shall speak to the railway
authorities about it, and gain their permission."

In vain the army officers argued with her as to the futility of such a
step. They, themselves, had thought of such procedure for their own
increasing activities, but had been refused a tent, very politely but
very firmly. Yet those refusals were not final. There were two other
factors now to be taken into consideration--one was the potency of the
very phrase, _Croix Rouge Américaine_, with the French, and the other
was the persuasive ability of a bright New York woman who, having made
up her mind what it was that she wanted to get, was not going to be
happy until she had gotten it.

She got the tent--the permission and all else that went with the getting
it up, of course. In the spring of 1919 it still was there, although in
use as a check room instead of a canteen; for the canteen service long
before had outgrown even its generous facilities. It spread in various
directions; into a regular hotel for enlisted men, right across the
narrow street from the station; a resthouse for both officers and
enlisted men back on the Route de Paris about a block distant; a huge
new canteen on the station grounds, and still another on one of the long
island-platforms between the tracks, so that men held in passing
trains--all of which stopped at Toul for coal and water, if nothing
else--and so unable to go even into the station to feel the comforting
hand of the Red Cross, might be served with good things of both food and

To maintain four such great institutions, even though all of them were
within a stone's throw of one another, was no child's play. The mere
problem of providing those good things to eat and drink was of itself a
really huge job. For by January, 1919, in the sandwich room of the
enlisted men's hotel across the street, 2,400 pounds of bread a day were
being cut into sandwiches. These sandwiches were worthy of
investigation. They were really worth-while--the Red Cross kind. I have
sampled them myself--all the way from Havre to Coblenz and south as far
as Bordeaux, and so truthfully can call them remarkable. For fancy, if
you can, corned beef--the miserable and despised "corn willie" of the
doughboy--being so camouflaged with pickles and onions and eggs as to
make many and many a traveling hungry soldier for the nonce quite
unaware that he was munching upon a foodstuff of unbridled army
ridicule. And ham, with mustard, and more of the palatable camouflage.
Oh, boy, could you beat it? And, oh, boy, did you ever eat better
doughnuts--outside of mother's, of course--than those of the Red Cross,
and the Salvation Army, too, gave you?

In the big kitchen of the American Red Cross canteen hotel at Toul they
cooked three thousand of these last each twenty-four hours, which would
have been a sizable contract for one of those white-fronted chains of
dairy restaurants whose habitat is New York and the other big cities of
the United States, while four thousand cups of coffee and chocolate went
daily to wash down these doughnuts--and the sandwiches.

Figures are not always impressive. In this one instance, however, I
think that they are particularly so. Is it not impressive to know that
in a single day of September, 1918, when the tide of war had turned and
the oncoming hosts of Yanks were turning the flanks of the _boche_
farther and farther back, ground once lost never to be regained--in the
eight hours of that day, from five o'clock in the morning until one
o'clock in the afternoon, just 2,045 men were served by the American Red
Cross there at the Toul station, while in the month of January, 1919,
just 128,637 hungry soldiers were fed and refreshed there?

Figures do not, of course, tell the story of the resthouse--that
apartment home first secured by Miss Andress--but the expressions of
gratefulness that come from the fortunate folk who have been sheltered
beneath its hospitable roof are more than ordinarily eloquent. It is not
a large building; a structure rather ugly than otherwise. But it has
spelled in every true sense of the word: "Rest." Yet to my mind its
really unique distinction lies in another channel; it is the only army
facility that I chanced to see in all France which extended its
hospitality under a single roof to both officer and enlisted man, and so
bespoke a democracy which, much vaunted at times, does not always exist
within the ranks of the United States Army. For so far as I could
discover, there was not the slightest particle of difference in the
cleanliness and comfort between the beds assigned to the enlisted men in
the upper floor of the house and those given to the officers in its two
lower floors. When they passed its threshold the fine distinction of
rank ceased. The Red Cross in its very best phases does not recognize
the so-called distinction of rank.

       *       *       *       *       *

Its hospitality at Toul did not cease when it had offered food and drink
and lodging to the man in khaki who came to its doors. A very humble yet
greatly appreciated comfort to a man coming off a hot, overcrowded, and
very dirty troop train was nothing more nor less than a good bath. The
bathhouse was a hurried but well-adapted one in the basement of the
enlisted men's hotel. Two Russian refugees ran the plant and did well at
it--for Russian refugees. A system was adopted, despite Slavic
traditions, by which at a single time sixteen men might be undressing,
sixteen taking a quarter-hour bath, and a third sixteen dressing
again--all at the same time. In this way 250 men could bathe in a single
hour, while the daily average of the institution during the busy months
of the war ordinarily ran from eight hundred to nine hundred. It has
handled 1,200 in a single working day, giving the men not only a bath,
hot or cold, as might be desired, but a complete change of clean
underclothing--all with the compliments of the Red Cross. The discarded
garments were gathered in huge sacks, some twenty-five of these being
forwarded daily to the army laundries in the neighborhood.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Red Cross in Toul?" said a young lieutenant of engineers one day to
Miss Gladys Harrison, who was working there for the American Red Cross.
"It saved my life one forlorn night. Every hotel in town was full to the
doors, it was raining bullets outside and no place to sleep but the
banks of the canal, if--if the Red Cross hadn't taken me in."

Let Miss Harrison continue the story; she was extremely conversant with
the entire situation in Toul, and so most capable to speak of it.

"It was the hour of tea when the young man came in. In fresh white
_coif_ and apron of blue, a Red Cross girl presided behind the altar of
the sacred institution, where the pot simmered and lemon and sugar
graced the brew. In a charmed circle around the attractively furnished
room which, among its other attractions, boasted a piano, a pretty
reading lamp, and a writing desk, sat some fifteen other officers--most
of them dusty and tired from long traveling, some shy, some talkative,
two gray-bearded, most of them mere boys, all warming themselves in the
civilizing atmosphere of the subtle ceremony. On the table piled on a
generous dinner plate was the marvel on which the young lieutenant's
eyes rested--doughnuts.

"Forty-eight thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five doughnuts. Not to be
sure, all on that dinner plate--the great number is that of the
doughnuts officially stirred up, dropped in deep fat, and distributed
from the Red Cross houses and station canteens during the month of July,
1918. Other good things were served in a similar abundance that same
month; 19,760 hot and cold drinks, 13,546 sandwiches, and 19,574
tartines, not to mention 2,460 salads and 4,160 dishes of ice
cream--these last, of course, special hot-weather foods. But the
doughnuts were the pride and glory of the Toul establishment--the
masterpiece by which its praises were known and sung in the long
trenches that scarred the fair Lorraine hills. They were the real
American article--except also for the traditional rolling in the sugar
barrel, now vanished like the dodo--soft and golden and winningly round.
They were made by a Frenchwoman, but her instructor was a genuine Yankee
soldier cook, who learned the art from his mother in the Connecticut
Valley, where they cherish the secret of why the doughnut has a hole. He
was particularly detailed to initiate the Frenchwoman into the mysteries
of the art by an army colonel who understood doughnuts and men and who
sat at tea with the directress one day when the Red Cross outpost at
Toul still was young."

The directress was, of course, Miss Andress, and it was in those early
days she still was the staff and the staff was the directress; and never
dreaming of the summer nights when her commodious resthouse in the Route
de Paris, with its accommodations for eight men and twenty-five
officers, would be called upon in a single short month to take care of
560 officers and 2,124 enlisted men--and would take care of every
blessed one of them to the fullest extent.

       *       *       *       *       *

Enough again of figures. At the best they tell only part of the story.
The boys who enjoyed the multifold hospitalities of the Red Cross in
Toul--that quaint, walled, and moated fortress town of old France, with
its churches and its exquisite cathedral rising above its low
roofs--could tell the rest of it; and gladly did when the opportunity
was given them. For instance here is a human document which came into my
hands one day when I was at the Toul canteen:

    "_Dear Red Cross Girls at the Canteen_:

    "I always wanted to tell you how I appreciated all the nice
    things you have done for us since I have been over here and
    would have, but perhaps you'd think I was making love to you for
    I felt I wanted to get you in a great big bunch and give you a
    great big hug. No, I wouldn't need any moonlight and shivery
    music, for it isn't that kind of a hug--the kind of hug I wanted
    to give is the kind a brother gives his sister; or a boy gives
    his mother when he wants her to know that he loves her and
    appreciates her.... You girls are for the boys of the fighting
    power and you don't ask any questions and you don't bestow any
    special favors and so we all love you.

    "(A soldier) MR. BUCK PRIVATE."

Sometimes actions speak louder than words. There came a time--in
September, 1918--when the troops were moving pretty steadily through
Toul and up toward the Argonne. The Red Cross girls were hard put to it
to see that all the boys had all the food and drink and lodgings and
baths that they wanted; but they saw that these were given and in
generous measure, even though it meant ten and twelve and fourteen and
even sixteen hours of work at a stretch. They had their full reward for
their strenuous endeavors, not always in letters, or even in words.
Sometimes the language of expression of the human face is the most
convincing thing in all the world.

It was a boy from Grand Island, Nebraska, who slouched into the Toul
canteen in the station yard on one of the hottest of those September
nights. He was tired and dirty, and his seventy-five pounds of equipment
upon his back must almost have been more than mortal might bear. But he
did not complain--it was not the way of the doughboy. He merely shoved
his pack off upon the floor and inquired in a quiet, tired voice:

"Anything that you can spare me, missy?"

He got it. Sandwiches, coffee, the promise of a bath; finally the bath
itself.... When the boy--he was indeed hardly more than a boy despite
his six feet of stature--left the Red Cross colony he had been fairly
transformed. He was cleaner, cooler, almost younger, and seeping over
with appreciation.

"It was wonderful," he blurted out. "I'd like to thank you--in a
practical way, sort of. Let me send you something down from the front--a
souvenir like."

The Red Cross girl who had first taken him in tow and to whom he was now
talking did not fully comprehend his remark. Another boy from another
Grand Island already was engrossing her attention. But the word
"souvenir" registered ever and ever so slightly.

"Get me a German," she said laughingly and lightly as she gave him her
name, and turned to the boy from the other Grand Island.

In a few days it came; a sizable pasteboard box by Uncle Sam's own army
parcel post over there in France.

The girl opened it quickly. There it all was--the revolver, the helmet,
the wallet, with all the German small change, the cigarette case, all
the small accouterments of a private in an infantry regiment, even down
to the buttons. In the package was a roughly written little note.

"I was a-going to send you his ears, too," it read, "only our top
sergeant didn't seem to think that ears was a nice thing to send a

       *       *       *       *       *

A chapter of this book could easily be confined to the
episodes--sometimes discouraging and at other times highly amusing--in
the personal histories of the canteen workers, both men and women. There
were many times when girls rode eight miles in camions to their work,
and many of these girls who were well used to limousines and who knew
naught of trucks until they came to France. Often those were the lucky
times. For there were the other ones, too, when there was a shortage of
camions and a woman must pull on her rubbers and be prepared to walk
eight or ten miles with a smile on her face, and after that was done to
be on her feet for eight long hours of service. It was a hard test, but
the American girls stood it.

There were the women in the little out-of-the-way canteens who struggled
with coal which "acted like coagulated granite," to quote the words of
one of them, and refused to ignite, save by patience and real toil.
There were long hours on station platforms feeding men by passing food
through car windows because there was not even time for the men to
alight and enter the canteens. Moreover, the soldiers had a habit at
times of leaving their savings for a canteen girl to send to the folks
at home, and although this was not a recognized official part of their
jobs, and, in fact, involved a tremendous amount of work, the trust was
not refused. The women workers fussed with these and many other errands
while the coffee brewed and the chocolate boiled.

In such canteens as those which at first catered to all of the Allies,
the menus were arranged in favor of the heaviest patronage. For the
visiting _poilus_ there was specialization in French dishes. When the
Italians were expected, macaroni was quite sure to become the _pièce de
résistance_. But for the Yankee boy there has apparently never been
anything to excel or even to equal good white bread, good ham, and good
coffee. French coffee may be good for the French--far be it from me to
decide upon its merits--but to the American doughboy give a cup of
Yankee coffee, cooked, if you please, in Yankee style. On such a
beverage he can live and work and fight. And perhaps some of the
marvelous quality of our American fighting has been due in no small
measure to the good quality of our American coffee.

       *       *       *       *       *

Birds will sometimes revisit a country torn and swept bare by war--even
as Picardy and Flanders have been torn--and so do the flowers creep back
gently to cling to the earth's torn wounds--the shell holes, the
trenches, the gaping walls, seeking to cover the hurts with their soft
camouflage of green and glowing color. The tenderest sight I saw in
bruised Péronne--Péronne which seemed so terribly hurt, even when one
came to compare it with Cambrai, or St. Quentin, or Noyon--was a little
new vine climbing up over the ruins of the parish church; and I thought
of the centuries that the vines had been growing over the gothic
traceries of Melrose Abbey. Flowers gathered by the American Army served
to decorate the waysides of France. The folk of that land have no
monopoly of sentiment. Indeed I have often wondered if ours might not
also have been called the sentimental army as well as the amazing army.

"I know why I am here," said a doughboy who was passing through Paris on
his way toward leave in the south of France, and when some one asked him
the reason, he replied:

"Because I am fighting for an idea. Our President says so."

I have disgressed--purposely. We were speaking of the flowers of France,
which grow in such abundance in her moist and gentle climate. The very
flowers that the boys of the A. E. F. picked when their trains were
halted at the stations--or sometimes between them--were ofttimes given
out by the Red Cross canteeners to other A. E. F. boys in far greater
need of them. For these were the little costless, priceless tributes
which were handed to the wounded men in the hospital trains that came
rolling softly by the junction stations of the United States Military
Railroad. And great, hulking men, who perhaps had given little thought
at other times to the flowers underfoot, then tucked them in their
shirts. Men blinded by gas held them to their faces.

       *       *       *       *       *


The very word holds within its seven letters the suggestion of great and
little adventures. It really is the traveler's own word. Is it not,
after all, the special property of the wanderer, who reckons the beauty
of the world not by beaten paths alone but by nooks and bypaths? To the
vocabularies of stay-at-homes or such routine folk as commuters, for
instance, it must remain unknown--in its real significance. The troops
which journeyed across France from the ports where our gray ships put
them down--the laborers, the poets, the farmers, the business men who
found themselves welded into a great undertaking and a supreme
cause--will never forget the waysides of France. I mean the waysides
that bore over their hospitable doors the emblem of the Red Cross and
the emblem of the Stars and Stripes side by side. Sheltered in the
hustle and bustle of railroad stations, in the quiet of château gardens
beneath century-old trees and within Roman walls, they offered rare
adventures in friendliness, in tenderness, in Americanism.



The _triage_ had been set up just outside of a small church which placed
its buttressed side alongside the market place of the village. It was a
busy place. And just because you may not know what _triage_ really is
any better than I did when I first heard the term, let me hasten to
explain that it is an emergency station set up by the Army Medical Corps
just back of the actual firing line--that and something more; for the
_triage_ generally means a great center of Red Cross activities as well.
And this particular one, in the little village of Noviant, close behind
the salient of Saint Mihiel--to which reference was made in the
preceding chapter--was the initiation point of a Red Cross captain; his
name is John A. Kimball and he comes from Boston.

Captain Kimball told it to me one day in Paris, and I shall try to give
much of it to you in his own words. He was just a plain, regular
business fellow who, well outside of the immediate possibilities of army
service, had closed his desk in Boston and had offered himself to the
Red Cross. And to work for the Red Cross at the front was to face death
as an actuality.

"The wounded already were coming in, in good numbers, on that
unforgetable morning of the twelfth of September, when they brought him
in--the first dead man that I had faced in the war," said he. "We had
had our experiences with handling iodine and antitoxin and dressings,
but this artillery captain was in need of none of these.... His feet
stuck out underneath the blanket that was thrown over the stretcher and
hid his body, his head, his arms, and his hands. I saw that his boots
were new and that they had been recently polished, too. Of course they
were muddy, but I remember beneath the caking of the clay that they were
of new leather. One does remember details at such a time.

"I buried him. It was a new experience, and not a pleasant one. But war
is no holiday; it is not filled with pleasant experiences. And sooner or
later it brings to a man a test, which, if disagreeable, is all but
supreme. This was my test. I rose to it. I had to. I buried the man, ran
hastily through his papers first and then sealed them into a packet to
send to those who held him dearer than life itself."

Because the Boston captain's experience was so typical of so many other
Red Cross men who risked their all in the service at the front lines of
battle, let us take time to consider it a little in detail. He came to
France at the end of June, 1918. He stayed in Paris and chafed at the
delay in being held back from the fighting front. In four weeks he
received his reward. Having asked to be made a searcher among killed,
wounded, and missing men, he was assigned to the Second Division at
Nancy, which had just come out of the hard fighting at Soissons and was
resting for a brief week before going into action again.

The Second Division is one of the notable Divisions of our fighting
forces that entered France. Because one wishes to avoid invidious
comparisons and because, after all, it is so really hard to decide
whether this Division, this regiment, or that is entitled to go down
into history ahead of its fellows, I should very much hesitate to say
that the Second or the First or the Third or the Twenty-sixth or the
Seventy-seventh or any other one Division was the ranking Division of
our Regular Army. But I shall not hesitate to write that the Second
stood in the front rank. Out of some 2,800 Distinguished Service medals
that had been awarded in France up to the first of March, 1919, some
800 had gone to this Division. And yet it was but one of eighty
Divisions involved in the conflict over there.

In the Second Division were comprised two of the most historic Regular
Army regiments of other days--the Ninth and the Twenty-third. The
records of each of these commands in Cuba and in the Philippines are
among the most enthralling of any in our military history. And the Ninth
was the regiment chosen to enter Peking at the close of the
Japanese-Chinese War and there to represent the United States
Government. These regiments before being sent to the Great War in Europe
were recruited up to the new fighting strength--very largely of boys
from the central and western portions of New York State. In addition to
these two regiments of the former Regular Army, the Second Division held
several of marines, which leaves neither room nor excuse for comment.
The marines too long ago made their fighting reputation to need any more
whatsoever added by this book.

The Second Division in the earlier days of the fighting of the American
Army as a unit had already made a distinguished reputation at both
Château-Thierry and at Soissons. It was at the first point that Major
General Bundy, who then commanded it, was reputed to have replied to a
suggestion from a French commanding officer that he had better retire
his men from an exceptionally heavy _boche_ fire that they were then
facing, that he knew no way of making his men turn back; literally they
did not know the command to retreat. Our amazing army was a machine of
many speeds forward, but apparently quite without a reverse gear.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Kimball of Boston joined the Second as a Red Cross worker, General
Bundy was just retiring from its command, and was being succeeded by
Brigadier General John A. LeJeune, who took charge on the second of
August, at Nancy; for the Division was spending a whole week catching
its breath before plunging into active fighting once again. On the
ninth its opportunity began to show itself. It moved to the Toul front
in the vicinity of the Moselle River, and was put into a position just
behind the Saint Mihiel sector--that funny little kink on the battle
front that the Germans had so long succeeded in keeping a kink.

For a long time--in exact figures just a month, which to restless
fighting men is a near eternity--the sector was quiet. There were
practically no casualties; and this of itself was almost a record for
the Second, which in four months of real fighting replaced itself with
new men to a number exceeding its original strength. In that month the
Division prepared itself for the strenuous service on the fighting
front. It went into camp for eleven days at Colombes-les-Belles, within
hiking distance of the actual front, and there practiced hand-grenade
work while it made its final replacements. The work just ahead of it
would require full strength and full skill.

On the twenty-seventh of August it began slowly moving into the front
firing line. From the first day of September until the eighth it worked
its way through the great Bois de Sebastopol (Sebastopol Forest),
marching by night all the while, and covering from eight to nine miles a
night. And upon the night of the eleventh--the eve of one of the most
brilliant battles in American history--took over a section of the
trenches north of the little town of Limey.

"Your objective is Triacourt," the officers told the men that evening as
they were preparing for going over the top at dawn, "and the Second is
given two days in which to take it."

Triacourt fell in six hours.

Count that, if you will, for an American fighting Division.

       *       *       *       *       *

The headquarters of the Second were at Mananville to the south of the
fighting lines. And halfway between Limey of the trenches (they ran
right through the streets of the little town) and Mananville was
Noviant where, as you already know, the _triage_ was established beside
the walls of the church and the Red Cross functioned at the front.
Remember that the _triage_ was nothing more nor less than a sorting
station, where wounded men, being sent back in a steady stream from the
front--three to six miles distant--were divided between four field
hospitals of the Regular Army service; one handling gassed cases,
another badly wounded, and the other two the strictly surgical cases.
Each of these divisions consisted roughly of from ten to fifteen doctors
and about one hundred enlisted men--no women workers were ever permitted
so near the front--and was equipped with from five to eight army trucks
of the largest size.

There has been sometimes an erroneous impression that the Red Cross was
prepared to assume the entire hospital functions of the United States
Army; I have even heard it stated by apparently well-informed persons
that such a thing was fact. It is fact, however, that if the enormous
task had been thrust upon the shoulders of our Red Cross it would have
accepted it. It has never yet refused a work from the government--no
matter how onerous or how disagreeable. As a matter of fact, the army,
for many very good and very sufficient reasons of its own, preferred to
retain direct charge of its own hospitals, both in the field and back of
the lines, and even took over the hospitals which the Red Cross first
established in France before the final policy of the Surgeon General's
office was definitely settled, which hardly meant a lifting of
responsibility from the shoulders of the American Red Cross. Its task,
as we shall see in the chapters which immediately follow this, was
almost a superhuman one. It needed all its energies and its great
resources to follow the direct line of its traditional activity--the
furnishing of comfort to the sick, the wounded, and the oppressed.

A wise man, one with canny understanding, if you will, who found himself
at the Saint Mihiel sector would have understood that a battle was
brewing. There was a terrific traffic on each of the roads leading up
toward the trenches from the railhead and supply depot at the rear--big
camions and little camionettes, two-man whippet tanks, French
seventy-fives (as what is apparently the best field cannon yet devised
will be known for a long time into the future), motor cars with
important-looking officers, ambulances, more big camions, more little
camionettes--all a seemingly unending procession. Fifth Avenue, New
York, or Michigan Avenue, Chicago, on a busy Saturday afternoon could
not have been more crowded, or the traffic handled in a more orderly

The barrage which immediately preceded the actual battle began at one
o'clock on the morning of the twelfth. It lasted for nearly four hours
and not only was noisily incessant but so terrific and so brilliant that
one could actually have read a newspaper from its continuous flashes if
that had been an hour for newspaper reading.

"It was like boiling water," says Kimball, "with each bubble a
death-dealing explosion."

At five o'clock in the morning the men went over the top, and our Red
Cross man shook himself out of a short, hard sleep of three hours in a
damp shed near the _triage_ beside the church at Noviant, for it had
been raining steadily throughout the entire night, and went across to
that roughly improvised dressing station. His big day's work was
beginning. By six it was already in full swing. The first wounded men
were coming back from the fighting lines up at Limey and were being
sorted into the ambulances before they were started for the three big
evacuation hospitals in the rear--each of them containing from three
hundred to five hundred beds. The Boston man saw each wounded soldier as
he was placed in the ambulance. Into the hands of those men who asked
for them or who were able to smoke he gave cigarettes. And to those who
were far too weak for the exercise or strain that smoking brought, gave
a word of encouragement or perhaps a shake of the hand. And all in the
name of the Red Cross.

He could have put in a busy day doing nothing else whatsoever; but felt
that there were other sections of the battle front that needed the
immediate presence of the American Red Cross. So at about half after
seven he climbed in beside the driver of a khaki-colored army camionette
and headed straight for Limey, and the heart of the trouble. There was
another old and badly battered church in the town square there, and
there a new _triage_ already was being established; for the Yanks were
driving forward--with fearful impetus and at a terrific rate. So the
hospital went on, the sorting stages, with their indescribable scenes of
human suffering--more stretchers and still more in the hands of _boche_
prisoners coming in with their ghastly freight. Captain Kimball again
passed out his cigarettes and started forward. Now he was on the scene
of actual warfare. Dawn had broken. It had ceased to rain and the sky
was bright and blue with white, fluffy, sun-touched clouds drifting
lazily across it--just as the Boston boy had seen them drift across the
sky in peaceful days on Cape Cod when he had had nothing to do but lie
on his back and gaze serenely up at them.

"I plunged forward over the broken field," he told me, "and there I came
across my artillery captain. I called an aid and we took him back--he of
the bright new boots that had so recently been polished.... I got back
into the game. All the time our boys shot ahead and the racket was
incessant. Once, when I bumped my way across the German trenches, I
paused long enough to stick my nose down into one of their dugouts. It
was easy to see that the enemy had not anticipated the attack. For in
that dugout--it was wonderfully neat and nice, with its concrete walls
and floors and ceiling and its electric lights--was the breakfast still
upon the table; the bread, the sausages, and the beer. I could have
stayed there an hour and enjoyed it pretty well myself. But there were
other things to be done. I got out into the shell-plowed fields once
again. Across that rough sea of mud an engineer regiment was already
building a road, which meant that we could get a Red Cross ambulance
right to the very front. I walked back to Limey--or rather I stumbled
over the rough fields--and there found one which had come through from
Toul that morning, loaded to its very roof with bandages and chocolates
and cigarettes. And I found that Triacourt had fallen. It still lacked
some minutes of noon. The job for which our Division had been given two
days had been accomplished in six hours--but such hours.

"We drove without delay into Triacourt--a fearfully slow business every
foot of it, with every inch of the hastily constructed road crowded with
traffic. But we got through and in the early afternoon were in the main
street of the little town which the French had watched hungrily for four
years and seemingly had been unable to capture. The women and children
of the place came out into the sun-lighted street and rubbed their eyes.
Was it all a dream; these men in tin helmets and uniforms of khaki and
of olive drab? No, it could not be a dream. These were real men,
fighting men. These were the Americans, the Americans of whom rumors had
even run back of the enemy lines. They found their voices, these women,
for the Germans had taken the men of Triacourt as prisoners.

"'_Bons Américains!_' they shrieked, almost in a single cry. And we
saluted gravely."

Over the heads of the two Red Cross men--the captain and the driver of
the little camionette--an aftermath of the battle in the form of an air
fight between _boche_ planes and American was in progress; young Dave
Putnam, one of the most brilliant of our aces, was making the supreme
sacrifice for his country. To the north the Germans were dragging up a
battery and preparing to shell the little town that they had just lost;
but not for long. Batteries of American .155's were appearing from the
other direction and were working effectively. And at dusk a report came
into Division Headquarters that a company of one of the old Regular Army
regiments had captured an entire German hospital--patients, nurses,
doctors, and even two German Red Cross ambulances; while the tingling
radio and the omnipresent telephone began to bring into Division
Headquarters the story of one of the most remarkable American victories
of the entire war. And our Red Cross began the first of a four days'
stay in a damp dugout in the lee of a badly smashed barn.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kimball's story is quite typical of many others. But before I begin upon
them--what the motion-picture director would call the "close-ups" of
what is perhaps the most picturesque form of all the many, many
picturesque features of our Red Cross in action, consider for a moment
how it first got into action upon the field of battle. I have referred
several times already to the excessive strain which the great German
offensives which began in March, 1918, placed upon its facilities, while
they still were in a stage of development. When we read of the work of
the Transportation Department and of the Bureau of Supplies, we saw how
both of these great functions had suddenly been confronted with a task
that demanded the brains and brawn of supermen and how gloriously and
brave-heartedly they had arisen to the task. The field service of our
Red Cross--its first contact with the men of our army in actual
conflict--was second to neither of these.

Remember, if you will, that it was but a mere nine months after the
American Red Cross Commission to Europe landed in France that its
organization was put to its greatest test. The news of the long-expected
and well-advertised German offensive reached Paris on the very evening
of the day on which it started, March 21, 1918. Paris caught the news
with a choking heart. The _coup_, which even her own military experts
had frankly predicted as the turning point of the entire war, actually
had come to pass. No wonder that the once gay capital of the French
fairly held its breath in that unforgetable hour--that every other
community of France, big or little, did the same--and fairly fought for
news of the day's operations. Yet news gave little comfort. It was bad
news, all of it; fearfully and unmistakably bad. Each succeeding courier
seemed to bring enlarged statements of the enemy's immensity and
seemingly irresistible force. It was indeed a real crisis.

       *       *       *       *       *

In that hour of alarm and even of some real panic, our American Red
Cross showed neither. It kept its cool and thinking head. Major James H.
Perkins, then ranking as Red Cross Commissioner to Europe and a man whom
you have met in earlier pages of this book, called a conference of his
department heads on that very evening of the twenty-first of March. He
told them quietly that they were to make known every resource at their
command and to have each and every one of their workers--men or
women--ready for call to any kind of service, night or day.

"Let every worker feel that on him or her individually may rest the fate
of the allied cause," was the keynote of the simple orders that issued
from this conference.

It was in the days that immediately followed that the flexibility and
the emergency values of the American Red Cross organization--qualities
that it had diligently set forth to attain within itself--came to their
fullest test. The discipline and willingness of practically every worker
was also under test, while for the very first time in all its history
overseas it was given large opportunity to carry to the men of the
allied lines a great material message.

How well was that material message carried?

Before I answer that point-blank question, let me carry you back a
little time before that night of the spring equinox. Let me ask you to
remember, if you will, that the super-structure of Red Cross effort in
that critical hour had been laid many weeks before; in fact very soon
after its original unit of eighteen men under command of Major Murphy
had first arrived in France. It had experimented with the French, in
definite and successful efforts to relieve the hard-pressed civilian
population of that distressed country. It had worked, and worked hard,
in the broad valleys of the Somme and the Oise, which had been
devastated by the _boche_ when he made his famous "strategic" retreat to
the Hindenburg Line in March, 1917--just one year before.

The Germans had left behind them an especial misery in the form of a
vast region of burned and blown-up homes, broken vehicles and farm
machinery, defiled wells, hacked and broken orchards, and ruined soil. I
have stood in both of these valleys myself after German retreats and so
can bespeak as personal evidence the desolation which they left behind.
I, myself, have seen whole orchards of young fruit trees wantonly ruined
by cutting their trunks a foot or more above the level of the ground.
And this was but a single form of their devilment.

Yet as the Germans retreated "strategically" there in the spring weeks
of 1917, there followed on their very heels the heavy-hearted but
indomitable refugees who in yesteryear had known these hectares as their
very own. Returning, they found but little by which they might recognize
their former habitats. Devastation ruled, life was practically extinct.
The farm animals, even the barnyard fowls and the tiny rabbits--the joy
of a French peasant's heart--had been killed or carried away. Not even
the bobbins of the cast-out sewing machines or the cart wheels were left
behind by an enemy who prided himself on his efficiency, but who had few
other virtues for any decent pride.

Seemingly stouter-hearted folk than the French might have quailed at
such wholesale destruction; but the refugees did not complain. Instead,
they set patiently to work--many of them still within the range of the
enemy's guns--to rehabilitate themselves. Their burdens and their
problems were staggeringly great; their resources pitifully small. Thus
our Red Cross found them, and to give them effective aid--not only in
the valleys of the Somme and the Oise, but in the other devastated areas
of France--formed the Bureau of Reconstruction and Relief under Edward
Eyre Hunt. Of Mr. Hunt's work, the record will be made at another time.
In order, however, that you may gain the proper perspective on the
beginnings of the field service of our Red Cross with our army in
action, permit me to call attention in a few brief sentences to some
salient features of the Bureau of Reconstruction and Relief.

It located warehouses at convenient places--Ham, Noyon, Arras, and
Soissons--all of them within gunshot of the Hindenburg Line. These were
stocked with food, clothing, furniture, kitchen utensils, building
materials, seed, farm implements, even with rabbits, chickens, goats,
and other domesticated animals. A personnel of several field workers was
sent into the district to supervise the distribution of these
commodities, which was done partly through authorized French committees
and municipal officers in the devastated towns. These coöperated with
devoted groups of British, French and American workers, who established
themselves in small groups and who worked to inspire the liberated areas
with faith and courage and hope. Looming large among all these
coördinated agencies were the Smith College Unit--composed of graduates
of the Northampton institution--and the group of workers from the
Society of Friends--both of whom, in the fall of 1917, became integral
parts of the Red Cross.

These two coördinated agencies, together with the _Secours d'Urgence_,
the _Village Reconstitue_, the Civil Section of the American Fund for
the French Wounded, the Philadelphia Unit, and the _Comité Américaine
pour les Régiones Dévastées_, had their various operations well under
way by the early summer of 1917. When it entered the field, our American
Red Cross offered assistance in every way to these organizations,
thereby giving a new impetus to their work. Agricultural societies were
organized for the common rehabilitation of the areas, American tractors
and plows were furnished by the French Government, while the Red Cross
workers helped with and encouraged the planting, furnishing large
quantities of seeds as they did so, while small herds of live stock,
also given by the Red Cross, appeared here and there upon the French

The workers did even more. They turned to and helped patch up buildings
that, with a minimum amount of labor, could again be made habitable,
erected small barracks in some places, and assisted generally in
renewing life and the first bare evidences of civilization in the towns
of the desolated sections.

       *       *       *       *       *

In March, 1918, these desecrated lands were just springing to life once
again. God's sun was breaking through the clouds of winter and gently
coaxing the wheat up out of the rough, brown lands, gardens again dotted
the landscape--the Smith College Unit itself had supervised and with its
own hands helped in the planting of more than four hundred and fifty of
these--the little villages and the bigger towns were showing increasing
signs of life and activity; then came the blow. The clouds gathered
together once again. And in the misty morning of the twenty-first of
March began a week of horror and devastation--a single seven days in
which all the patient, loving labor of nearly a twelvemonth past was
erased completely. The Germans swept across the plains of Picardy once
again--the French and British armies and the terror-stricken civilians
along with the American war workers were swept before them as flotsam
and jetsam, all in a mad onrush. Yet all was not lost. One field worker,
a stout-hearted little woman in uniform, sat in the seat of a swaying
motor truck and as the thing rolled and tossed over a road of
unspeakable roughness wrote in her red-bound diary, this:

[Illustration: AS SEEN FROM ALOFT

The aëroplane man gets the most definite impression at the A. R. C.
Hospital at Issordun, which was typical at these field institutions]

"The best of all remains--the influence of neighborliness, friendship,
kindness, and sympathy--these are made of the stuff which no chemistry
of war can crush. We face more than half a year's work torn to pieces.
But I do believe that the fact of this sacrifice will deepen its

Such was the spirit of our Red Cross workers overseas.

They now had full need for such spirit. The monotony of working from
daylight to dusk in lonely farms and villages, where patience was the
virtue uppermost, was now to be replaced by a whirl of events which
succeeded one another with kaleidoscopic rapidity, demanding service
both night and day of a character as varied as the past had been

       *       *       *       *       *

The headquarters of the American Red Cross for the Somme district on the
morning of the twenty-first of March, 1918, were at Ham--the little
village once made famous by the imprisonment and escape of Louis
Philippe. They were in charge of Captain William B. Jackson, who
afterwards became major in entire charge of the Army and Navy Field
Service. Here at Ham was also the largest Red Cross warehouse in the
entire district. Another warehouse stood at Nelse, a few miles distant,
to the rear. To the north was Arras, with still another American Red
Cross storehouse, while to the south was the Soissons warehouse.

On that same morning--one cannot easily efface it from any picture of
any continued activity of the Great War--the Smith College Unit workers
had gone from their headquarters at Grecourt, both on foot and in their
four Ford cars, to their various tasks in the seventeen small villages
in the immediate vicinity. Two or three of these young women journeyed
to Pommiers, a little town in the area, whose school had been reopened
by them, and which also served the children of several surrounding
villages. And because so many of the children had to walk so far to
their lessons the Red Cross served them each day with a substantial
school lunch--of vermicelli, chocolate, and milk. A few others of the
college graduates went a little farther afield--to supervise planting
operations in near by towns--yet not one of these girls was one whit
above turning to and working on the task with her own hands, while some
helped the Red Cross workmen's gangs roofing houses and stables,
repairing shops and fitting outbuildings, in some crude form, for human

Into the very heart of those varied activities that March morning
marched the red-faced British Town Major of Ham with the blunt and crisp
announcement to the Red Cross man that the town must be evacuated
without delay; the retreat already was well under way, the vast hegira
fairly begun.... The Red Cross force there at Ham did not hesitate. It
first sent word to all the workers in the villages roundabout; then,
having quickly mobilized in the town square its entire transportation
outfit--three trucks, a camionette, and a small battered touring
car--gave quiet, prompt attention to its own immediate problem of
evacuation work.

It functioned fast and it functioned extremely well. Back and forth
across the River Somme--over the rough bridges hurriedly builded by
Americans for the British Army--it transported hundreds and hundreds of
children and infirm refugees. All that day, all that night, and well
into the next morning it worked, driving again and again into the
bombarded towns in the region to bring out the last remaining families.
The Germans were already on the edge of the town when one Red Cross
driver made his last trip into Ham--on three flat tires and a broken
spring! Yet despite these physical disabilities succeeded in carrying
six wounded British soldiers out to safety.

To our Red Cross the Smith College girls reported, with great
promptitude. And throughout the entire succeeding week--a deadly and
fearfully depressing seven days of continued retirement before the
advancing Germans--showed admirable courage and initiative; the sort of
thing that the military expert of to-day classes as _morale_ of the
highest sort. These women worked night and day setting up, whenever the
retreat halted even for a few hours, temporary canteens and dispensaries
and evacuating civilians and carrying wounded soldiers through to safe
points behind the lines. And because many of these last were American
soldiers they formed the first point of field contact between our Red
Cross and our army and so are fairly entitled to a post of high honor in
the pages of this book.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Send me another sixty of those Smith College girls," shouted an
American brigadier general from his field headquarters in the fight at
Château-Thierry. "This forty isn't half enough. I want a hundred."

The college graduate in charge of the temporary canteen there who
received this request laughed.

"Tell him," she said, "that there have been no more than sixteen at any
one time."

But sixteen human units of individual efficiency can move mountains.

Take the Smith girl who drove a Red Cross car through the tangle of war
traffic at a crossroads near Roye, while the fighting waged thick around
about that little town. She found her Fordette stalled and tangled in
several different lines of communication; between ammunition trucks,
supply camions, loads of soldiers, batteries--all, like herself, stopped
and standing idle and impotent.

The girl sensed the situation in an instant. She must have been a New
Yorker and have remembered the jams of traffic that she had seen on
Forty-second Street; at Broadway and again at Fifth Avenue. At any rate
she acted upon the instant. She descended from the seat of her little
car, and, standing there at the crossing of the roads with an American
flag in her fingers, directed traffic with the precision and good sense
of the skilled city traffic cop. She held up staff cars, directed whole
regiments of artillery, shouted orders to convoys, and for several hours
kept the important corner from becoming another hopeless tangle of
traffic. Her orders were not disputed, either by private or general. All
ranks smiled at her, but all ranks saluted and obeyed her orders.

It was in situations such as this that the rare combination of military
discipline, the flexibility to permit of human initiative that the Red
Cross sought to attain in its inner self, showed itself. The plan of
withdrawal which had been carefully mapped out at headquarters was
implicitly followed--almost to its last details. Yet the personnel of
the organization was both permitted and encouraged to work at its
highest efficiency both in evacuating human beings and salvaging the
precious supplies. For instance, after that first day of the great
retreat, when all the Red Cross workers in the area had reported to
their chiefs at Nelse and at Roye--both well to the rear of Ham--they
were dispatched to work up and down the entire constantly changing
front. Geographically, Soissons was the hub of the wheel on which these
emergency Red Cross activities turned so rapidly. They all swung back in
good order, each unit, by motor-courier service, keeping in
communication with its fellows. Roye was the center of the secondary
line of the Red Cross front which for the moment stretched from Amiens
in the northwest to Soissons in the southeast. When it was driven from
this line the entire Red Cross force in the vicinity retired, still in
good order, to a brand-new one, stretching across Amiens, Montdidier,
and Noyon. From the small American Red Cross warehouse at this last
town, a stock of valuable supplies was quickly evacuated to Lassigny, a
short distance still farther to the rear. Noyon quickly became a center
of feverish activity and the focus of Red Cross efforts on the third day
of the battle. From it Red Cross cars worked, both day and night,
evacuating men and women and goods.

The line held across Montdidier, Noyon, and even Lassigny for a bare
twenty-four hours more; for on the fourth day of the retreat all three
had to be abandoned, and new quarters established on a line closer to
Paris than any of the others; it passed through both Beauvais and
Compiègne, where emergency Red Cross headquarters were once again
established; but for the last time. This line was destined to be a
permanent one. The retreat was slowing down, slowly but very surely
halting. And our Red Cross with our Yanks and their Allies were "digging

       *       *       *       *       *

The impressions which the great German drive made upon the minds of our
workers who fell back before it will remain with them as long as thought
and memory cling--the vast conglomeration of men, tired, dirty,
unshaven; men and animals and inanimate things, moving quickly, slowly,
intermittently, moving not at all, but choking and halting all
progress--with the deadly perversity of inanimate things; men not merely
tired, dirty and unshaven, but sick and wounded almost unto death,
moaning and sobbing under the fearful onslaughts of pain unbearable,
sometimes death itself, a blessed relief, and marked by a stop by the
roadside, a hurriedly dug grave, prayers, the closing earth, one other
soul gone from the millions in order that hundreds of millions of other
souls may live in peace and safety. Such traffic, such turmoil, such
variety, such blinding, choking dust. Army supply trains, motor trucks,
guns, soldiers, civilians, on foot and mounted, of vehicles of every
variety conceivable and many unconceivable; motor cars upon which the
genius of a Renault or a Ford had been expended; wheelbarrows, baby
carriages, sledges, more motor cars, ranging in age from two weeks to
fourteen years, dog carts, wagons creaking and groaning behind badly
scared mules and worse scared negroes who wondered why they had ever
left the corn brake--for this. Such traffic, such life. And then--again
and again death, more graves, more prayers, more men's souls poured into
the vague unknown.

And in the midst of death, life. Here in this wagon is a haggard-looking
woman. The babe which she clasps to her breast is but four hours old;
but the woman is a hundred--seemingly. She stretches her long, bare arms
out from the flapping curtains at the rear of the Red Cross camionette.
A group of _poilus_, in extremely dirty uniforms, catches her eyes. She
shrieks to them in her native French.

"My _poilus_," she cries, "you shall return. God wills it. You shall
return--you and my little son," and falls, sobbing incoherently, into
the bottom of the bumping ambulance.

An old woman with her one precious possession saved--a bewhiskered
goat--hears her, and crosses herself. A three-ton motor truck falls into
a deep ditch and is abandoned, with all of its contents. This is no hour
for salvage. The dust from all the traffic grows thicker and thicker.
Yet it is naught with the blinding white dust which arises from this
shell--which almost struck into the heart of one of the main lines of
traffic. The racket is terrific; yet above it one catches the shrieking
cry of the young mother in the camionette. Her reason hangs in the
balance. And as the noise subsides a detachment of _poilus_ falls out
beside the roadside and begins opening more graves. The _boche's_ aim
was quite as good as he might have hoped.

       *       *       *       *       *

In and out of these streams--this fearful turmoil of traffic, if you
please, our Red Cross warped and woofed its fabric of human godlike love
and sympathy. With its headquarters established with a fair degree of
permanency both at Compiègne and Beauvais, it increased its attention to
the soldiery. It set up a line of canteens and soup kitchens along the
roadside all the way from Beauvais, and these served as many as 30,000
men a day with hot drinks, cigarettes, and food of a large variety, and
showed a democratic spirit of service in that they gave, without
question or without hesitation, to Frenchmen, to Britons, to Italians,
and to Americans alike. The men and the girls in the canteens were blind
to things, but their ears were ever alert, and they heard only the
voices of the tired and the distressed asking for food and drink.

At Compiègne the Red Cross took over the largest hotel, which, like the
rest of the town, had been evacuated so hurriedly that parts of a
well-cooked meal still remained upon the tables of the great
_salle-à-manger_. Instantly it rubbed its magic lamp and transformed the
hostelry into a giant warehouse, infirmary, and, for its own workers, a
mess hall and barracks. And as the endless convoys rolled by its doors
and down into the narrow, twisting, stone-paved streets of Compiègne,
these workers stood at the curb opening up case after case of canned
foodstuffs and tossed or thrust the cans into the waiting fingers of the
half-starved drivers of the trucks and camions.

Individual initiative--that precious asset of every American--had its
fullest opportunity those days at Compiègne. It mattered not what a man
had been or what he might become; it was what he made of himself that
very hour that counted. A minister who had come over from America to do
chaplain service for the army bruised his poor unskilled fingers time
and time again as he struggled, with the help of a clerk from the Paris
offices, with the stout packing cases. Departmental and bureau lines
everywhere within the Red Cross had been abolished in order to meet the
supreme emergency. Rank melted quickly away before the demand for manual
labor. The Red Cross showed the flexibility of its organization, and
Compiègne was, in itself, a superb test.

It was down at the railroad station in that same fascinating, mediæval
city of old France that a portable kitchen, hauled out on the great
north road up from Paris, with three American business men fresh from
their desks in New York, hanging perilously on to its side like
volunteer fire laddies of long ago going on old "Rough and Ready" to a
regular whale of a blaze, was set up on the exact spot where one Jeanne
d'Arc once had been taken prisoner. Its mission of salvation was far
more prosaic; yet, in its own humble way, it too functioned, and
functioned extremely well. It served food and hot drinks to more than
ten thousand soldiers each day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The variety of opportunity, of service to be rendered, was hardly less
than stupendous. For instance, when word came to Compiègne from Ressons
that the French would finally be compelled to evacuate their hospital
there and lacked the proper transportation facilities, our Red Cross
stepped promptly into the breach and moved out the precious supplies. It
did not ask whether or not there were American boys there in the wards
of the French hospital--there probably were, the two armies being
brigaded together pretty closely at that time; it sought no fine
distinctions--in that time, in that emergency, the French were us, we
were the French--and so sent its trucks hurrying up to Ressons, equipped
with a full complement of workers. And these worked until the retreating
Allies had established a third line in the rear of them and the
advancing Germans were but two hours away.

All this while the transformed hotel at Compiègne remained a huge center
for these multifold forms of Red Cross relief. It, too, formed a
clearing house for assistance. Its ears were alert to the vast
necessities of the moment. They listened for opportunities of service.
There were many such. A refugee brought word that an old couple in a
farmhouse full ten miles distant had no way of retreating before the
onrushing Germans. Without a minute's delay a camionette was dispatched
to the spot and it brought the weeping, grateful pair and most of their
personal belongings to safety; while other cars were sent in various
directions to seek out the opportunities of performing similar
services.... As this situation eased itself, this transportation
equipment was turned toward the carrying of supplies and tobacco to the
weary men of isolated batteries and units along the ever changing battle
front. It was an almost unceasing task, and the few short hours that the
Red Cross workers forced themselves into an all-necessary sleep were all
spent in the caves and _abris_ of Compiègne; for the _boche_ aviators
had an unpleasant habit of making frequent nocturnal visits to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Beauvais, simultaneous with the establishment of the headquarters at
Compiègne, the American Red Cross opened both military and civilian
hospitals, together with a rest station of some three hundred beds for
slightly wounded soldiers and for casuals; as men detached from their
units are generally known. Over a bonfire in a small hut the workers
cooked food and served it hot to the soldiers and the refugees. In fact
this town had been made a clearing station for these last. Each incoming
train brought more and more of these pitiful folk into the town, where
they were halted for a time before being sent on other trains to the
districts of France quite remote from any immediate possibility of
invasion. In the few hours which refugees spent in Beauvais our Red
Cross made some definite provision for their comfort. It secured a huge
building, obtained several tons of hay, and after establishing a rough
form of bus service with its motor cars, transported them from the
station to its hastily transformed barracks for a night's rest, and
then, on the following morning, back to the railway station and the
outgoing trains to the south and west. And with the barracks and the hay
cots went blankets and food, of course. It was crude comfort; but it was
infinitely better than spending the night on the stone floor of a damp
and unheated railroad station.

At Niort, where a small store of Red Cross supplies had been sent to a
designated delegate, the delegate on an hour's notice fed four hundred
refugees, while at Clermont the American Red Cross supplied food to a
nunnery that had opened its doors to refugees. So it went. The variety
of services was indeed all but infinite; while through the entire
nightmare of activity, the workers were thrust upon their own
initiative--that precious American birthright,--time and time again.
Their only orders were short ones; they were to help any one and every
one in need of assistance.

How the French viewed this aid and how they came to rely upon it, is
best illustrated, perhaps, by the testimony of a hardware merchant of
Soissons whose house had been shelled. Without hesitation he came direct
to the Red Cross headquarters for help, saying:

"I come to you first because it has become natural for us to go to the
Americans first when we are in need."

And from a refugee station near Péronne, a Red Cross worker reported:

"They are all looking to me, as a representative of the American Red
Cross, to act as a proper godfather."

As the days passed, the work in this vital area was greatly expanded and
increased. The refugees gradually were evacuated through to Paris and
beyond, while the service in the valleys of the Somme and the Oise
became more strictly military in character. It became better organized,
too. But I feel that this last is not the point. We Americans are rather
apt to place too great a stress upon organization. And the fact remains
that the Red Cross in its first military emergency, with very little
organization, indeed, attained a proficiency in service far greater than
even its most optimistic adherents had ever dreamed it might attain.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have turned the course of my book for a time away from the direct
service of our Red Cross to our own army because I wanted you to see
how and where that direct-service field was founded. From that
beginning, at the start of the German drive, it grew rapidly and
steadily and, as I have just said, with certain very definite benefits
of organization. The drive halted, became a thing of memory, was
supplanted by another drive--of a different sort and in the opposite
direction--a drive that did not cease and hardly halted until the
eleventh day of November, 1918. That was the drive so brilliantly marked
with those epoch-making tablets of the superb romance of our American
adventure overseas--Château-Thierry, Veaux, Saint Mihiel, the
Argonne--many other conflicts, too.

In all of these the American Red Cross played its part, and seeks no
greater testimony than that so generously volunteered by the very men
who received its benefits--the doughboys at the front. They know, and
have not been hesitant to tell. My own sources of information are for
the most part a bit official--the records made by the Red Cross workers
in the field. These tell more eloquently than I can of the work that was
done there and so I shall quote quite freely from them.

"My billet has stout cement walls, a mighty husky ceiling and a dirt
floor," writes Lieutenant J. H. Gibson of Caldwell, Idaho, who was
attached to the Thirty-third Division. "The furniture consists of my cot
and sundry goods boxes, camouflaged with blankets to make seats, and I
have frequent callers. Generally they are casuals--men who have lost
their organizations and don't know where to go or what to do. I had
three of them the first day, footsore, weary, and homesick. I rustled
them a place to get mess, loaded them into my car, and drove them to the
nearest railroad railhead, where I found a truck belonging to their
Division, stopped it, and got them aboard."

Under date of October 13, 1918, Lieutenant Gibson further wrote:

"This has been another of those days spent most in quarters, busy with
paper work. I find a thundering lot of letter writing necessary in
connection with my Red Cross duties. I am the Home Communication and
Home Service Representative for the Division in addition to being
division 'scrounger.' When any of the folks back home want information
about their soldier boys I am supposed to furnish it and, _vice versa_,
when any of the soldier boys have home problems I am expected to help
them. While I am resting I act as Division shopper, for fighting men
need things just the same as ordinary mortals, and I take their orders,
have the goods bought through the Red Cross in Paris, and distribute
them, collecting the money. When the Division is in action I administer
comfort to the wounded in addition to gathering data as to the deaths.
Between times I scout roads, carry dispatches, and help the sanitary
train generally. If the devil has work only for idle hands he can pass
me by.

"At dressing stations we endeavor to do two things; to re-dress the
wounds and to administer some nourishment. The men wounded have received
first aid treatment on the field or at the battalion-aid post and they
walk or are carried on litters to the dressing station. There we put
them into ambulances or trucks and they go out to the evacuation
hospitals. My part of the job was the nourishment end, and so I got a
detail of men, improvised a fire, stole a water bucket from another
Division which had more than it needed, opened up some rations, and soon
was serving hot coffee, bread, and jam to the wounded, endeavoring the
while to kid a grin into the face of each. The last was the easiest job
for our fellows were sure gritty. I think I batted a thousand per cent
on the smile end of the game."

Under date of October 24, 1918:

"Back from Paris. I rolled out fairly early and got my boxes opened. The
boys certainly appreciate the Red Cross shopping service and fairly
swarmed in after the articles we had procured for them. There was
everything imaginable in the lot--watches, boots, cigars, cigarettes,
and candy being the prime favorites. One buddy had a mandolin and
another some French grammars. I was overwhelmed and had to get an
assistant detailed, for in addition to making deliveries I had to take
orders. Every one wanted to order something. About sixty-five additional
orders were placed to-day and I didn't even have time to open my mail."

A week later:

"I spent the day at my billet, busy with the correspondence which my
position with the Red Cross necessitates and which, by the way, is a
little difficult to handle in view of the fact that I am minus every
convenience. Letter files, index cards, guides, and cabinets are about
as scarce as hen's teeth. It is wonderful, however, just what a man can
do without. A small goods box will make a very passable letter file, and
a cigar box, the kind that fifty come in, can be made into a reasonably
useful card-index tray. I was wise enough to bring a small typewriter
from the states and it has proven absolutely indispensable.... The men
are in rest billets and the delouser and shower baths are busy cleaning
them up. The men come in squads to the building which houses the
equipment, strip off their clothing which goes to the delouser, where
they are dry-baked at a temperature sufficiently high to kill the nits.
While this is being done they are thoroughly scrubbing themselves, and
when they are through with the bath, their clothes are finished and
ready to be put on. The Red Cross never did a better thing than when it
furnished this equipment to my division."

Permit me to interrupt Lieutenant Gibson's narrative to explain in
somewhat greater detail the operation of these Red Cross portable
cleansing plants which added so greatly to the comfort of the doughboys,
not only in the field, but, in many cases, in rest billets or camps far
back from it. It so happened that many times the men in the front lines
would go weeks and even a full month without the opportunity of a decent
bath. Such is war. It is a known fact that the boys of the Third
Division once spent a full five weeks in the trenches without even
changing their clothes, after which they were sent behind to a Red Cross
cleansing station and bathed and refitted with clean clothing before
being sent back again--with what joy and refreshment can easily be

The type of portable shower used in many cases was generally known as
the "eight-headshower" or field douche. It consisted of a simply
designed water tank with fire box, in which might be burned coal or
wood, a pipe line with eight sprays, and flooring under the sprays. The
thing was easily adjusted. In a building with water supply it was a
simple matter indeed to connect the tank with the water supply; while in
the open field, where there might be neither water pressure nor water
connection, the precious fluid could be poured into the tank with
buckets. The apparatus was durable and reasonably "fool-proof."

During the Château-Thierry drive nine of these portable showers were set
up by our Red Cross, and in one week, seven thousand men were brought
back from the firing line, bathed, given clean clothes, and sent back
refreshed mentally and morally as well as physically. Sixty men an hour
could easily be bathed in one of these plants, and two gallons of water
were allowed to each man.

The delouser, as the army quickly came to know the sterilizing plant,
almost always accompanied the portable shower upon its travels. It, too,
was a simple contraption; a great cylinder, into which the dirty
clothing was tightly crammed until it could hold not one ounce more, and
live steam poured in, under a pressure of from sixty to one hundred and
fifteen pounds to the square inch. This was sufficient to kill all the
vermin; and, in some cases, the bacteria as well, although this last was
not guaranteed. The delouser, with a capacity of fifty suits a day,
could almost keep pace with one of the shower baths, and both could be
set up or taken down in ten minutes.

A shower bath mounted on a Ford was one of the best friends of the
Eighty-first Division as it played its big part in the defeat of the
Hun. It made its first appearance in September, when the Division was
stationed in the Vosges, with headquarters at St. Dié. After a few hard
days in the trenches the men would return to their headquarters, well to
the rear of the lines, and beg for some sort of bathing facilities--and
these, apparently, were not to be found.

Captain Richard A. Bullock was our Red Cross man with the Eighty-first.
It bothered him that the men of his Division could not have so simple a
comfort when they asked for it and needed it so much. He determined to
try and solve the problem, and so found his way down to the big American
Red Cross warehouse and there acquired one of the portable field
equipments such as I have just described. It was a comparatively easy
trick to mount the device on a Ford, after which Bullock paraded the
entire outfit up and down the lines of the Eighty-first and as close to
the front-line trenches as fires were ever permitted. In a mighty short
time he could get the bath in order and showering merrily, and when all
the men who wanted to bathe had been accommodated the contraption would
move on.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the camps where larger numbers of men must be bathed, the Red Cross,
through its Mechanical Equipment Service of its Army and Navy
Department, provided even larger facilities, although still of
standardized size and pattern. This was known as the pavilion bath and
disinfecting plant and could easily take care of 150 an hour. Where the
sterilization of their clothing was not necessary this number was very
greatly increased. In fact at one time a record was made in one of the
large field camps of bathing 608 men in two hours through a single one
of these plants. In another, which was in operation at the Third
Aviation Center, 3,626 men bathed in one week in a total of twenty-eight
operating hours and some 4,200 men in the second week. It was estimated
that the plants could, if necessary, be operated a full twenty-four
hours a day; but even on the part-time basis it was an economical
comfort. It required the services of a sergeant and three
privates--whose time cost nothing whatsoever--to operate it, and, based
on fuel costs, each man bathed at an expense, to the Red Cross, of less
than one cent.

They were handled with military simplicity and expedition. The men, told
off into details, entered the first room--the entire outfit was housed
in a standardized Red Cross tent of khaki--where they removed their
clothes and placed them within the sterilizer, then went direct into the
bath. While they bathed their garments were cleansed, sterilized, and
dried, and the two functions were so synchronized that the clothes were
ready as quickly as the men--and the entire process completed within the
half hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Return, if you will, for a final minute with Gibson of the Red Cross, up
with the Thirty-third Division at the front. I find a final entry in his
diary record of his activities nearly three weeks after the signing of
the armistice; to be exact, on November 29. It runs after this fashion:

"A couple of days before Thanksgiving I accompanied the Division Graves
Registration Officer to the woods north of Verdun where our Division had
been heavily engaged during the month of October and where we had quite
a list of missing. The fighting had been intense through these woods,
portions of them changing hands five or six times in the course of three
weeks, and naturally it was impossible to keep careful track of all the
brave fellows who fell. Delving into the earth, uncovering rotten
corpses, and searching for proper marks of identity is as gruesome and
as horrible a job as could be imagined and I must confess my nerve was a
bit shattered at the close of the second day...."

Yet not all the work of the Division men of the Red Cross was gruesome
and horrible. The war had its humors as well as tragedies, major and
minor. For instance, how about the job of the Red Cross man with the
Seventy-seventh Division, when he found himself asked to become stage
manager for a troupe of seventeen girls--real girls, mind you, none of
them the make-believe thing with bass voices and flat feet. He, like
many of his fellows, found that the hardest part of his job came after
the signing of the armistice, when time hung heavy indeed upon the hands
of the doughboys and to keep them occupied was a task worthy of the best
thoughts of men--and angels. The mere job of serving coffee and
chocolate from the canteens, establishing reading rooms, and
distributing cigarettes, magazines, and newspapers ceased to be
sufficient. The boys were fairly "fed up" with these things. And with
the continued rain and mud and damp of Manonville getting upon the
nerves of the Seventh, they demanded something new and mighty good in
the way of amusement.

Captain Biernatzki was the Red Cross man with the Division. He quickly
sensed the situation, and, taking his little motor car, drove to Toul
not far distant, and, as you already know, a Red Cross center of no
small importance. He began at once signing up dramatic talent among the
American Red Cross girls there in the canteens and the hospitals, and
after securing motor transportation for the entire troupe, bore it north
to his own Division. The officers of the Seventh were in on the plan and
heartily supported it, and as an earnest of their support had the
visiting ladies of the Red Cross Road Company No. 1 lunch at a special
and wonderful mess on the occasion of their Thespian début.

"One of the girls was a wonderful singer," said Biernatzki afterward in
describing the incident. "Another proved a marvel in handling the men,
making them sing and keeping them laughing, and there were one or two
others, too, who did their bit in a most creditable manner. One of our
troupe had brought a clothes basket full of fudge which was thrown out
to a forest of waving palms, while the remaining members of the party
were sufficiently decorative and charming to put the finishing touches
to the affair by their mere presence."

It seems a far cry from the Red Cross extending succor to a man wounded
on the field of battle toward staging a show in a big rest camp, yet I
am not sure that the last, in its way, did not do its part toward the
winning of the war quite as much as the first.

Of course our American Red Cross was not primarily represented in
canteen work in the actual zones of fighting; this function, by the
ruling of the United States Army and the War Department, you will
perhaps remember, was given almost entirely to the Young Men's Christian
Association and to the Salvation Army. There were, however, a few
exceptions to this general rule. For instance, at Colombes-les-Belles,
an important aviation station, ten or twelve miles south of Toul, I saw
a very complete Red Cross equipment at a field camp which at no time was
far removed from the front-line fighting. It consisted of a canteen,
which served as high as from two thousand to three thousand men a day,
and even as late as March, 1919, was still serving from seven to eight
hundred; an officers' club, to which was attached an officers' mess,
feeding some seventy men a day, and a billeting barracks for the nine
Red Cross women stationed at the place. There also was a huge hangar
which, with a good floor and appropriate decorations, had been
transformed into a corking amusement center. This last was not under the
direct charge of the American Red Cross, yet our Red Cross girls were
the chief factors in making it go. They danced there night after night
with our boys. In fact, in order to have sufficient partners, it was
necessary to scour the country for twenty miles roundabout with motor
cars and bring in all the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. girls that were
available. It seems that it really is part of a Red Cross girl's job to
be on her feet eight hours a day and then to dance full ten miles each

This Colombes-les-Belles canteen originally had been established in the
very heart of the grimy little village, but when the Twenty-eighth
(Pennsylvania) Division came to the place on the thirteenth of January,
1919, it took the old canteen structure for division headquarters, but
squared the account by building the Red Cross a newer and bigger canteen
group in the open field.

"I can't give too much praise to the Red Cross personnel that have been
assigned to this particularly isolated spot," the colonel in charge of
the flying field told me on the occasion of my visit to it. "I know that
the women must have been fearfully lonely out here; but they have never
complained. On the contrary, they have given generously and unstintingly
of their own time and energies in order that time should not hang
heavily upon the hands of the men. The problem of amusement for the
aviator is a peculiarly difficult one. He has actually only two or three
hours of service each day, and the rest of his waking hours he must be
kept ready and fit, mentally as well as physically, for his job, which
requires all that a man may possess of nerve and judgment and quick wit.
The Red Cross women quickly came to sense this portion of our problem
and in helping in its assistance they have been of infinite assistance."

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet, while service in a field camp such as this at Colombes-les-Belles
represents a high degree of fidelity and persistence and, in many, many
cases, real courage as well, the real test of high courage for the Red
Cross man, as well as for the soldier, came in the trenches or the open
fighting, which, in the case of our Yanks, was brought in the final
weeks and months of the war to supplant the intrenched lines of the
earlier months. Here was a man, a canteen worker for the American Red
Cross, who suddenly found it his job to hold the hand of a boy private
of a Pennsylvania regiment while the surgeon amputated his arm at the
shoulder. War is indeed a grim business. The Red Cross workers in the
field saw it in its grimmest phases; but spared themselves many of its
worst horrors by virtue of forgetting themselves and their nerves in
the one possible way--in hard and unrelenting work, night and day. They
found unlimited possibilities for service--now as canteen workers and
now as ambulance drivers, again as stretcher bearers, as assistants to
the overburdened field surgeons, as couriers or even as staff officers,
and fulfilled these possibilities with a quickness, a skill, and a
desire that excited the outspoken admiration of the army men who watched

       *       *       *       *       *

I said a good deal at the beginning of this chapter about the Second
Division and the work of young Captain Kimball, of Boston, with it. The
Second--which was very well known to the home nation across the
seas--had an earnest rival in the First, made up almost entirely of
seasoned troopers of the Regular Army. And Captain George S. Karr, who
was attached to the First, had some real opportunities of seeing the
work of the Red Cross in the field, himself.

"It was when our Division was on the Montdidier front and preparations
were being made for the American offensive against Cantigny," says
Captain Karr. "One of the commanding officers called at the outpost
station where I made my headquarters and asked if I could get him three
thousand packages of cigarettes, the same number of sticks of chocolate,
lemons, and tartaric acid for the wounded who would be coming in within
the next few hours. It was necessary to deliver these in Chrepoix, where
the outpost was located, within twenty-four hours.

"Lieutenant Bero of the outpost station and I went to the Red Cross
headquarters at Beauvais, but found that we would have to get the things
from Paris and that that would be practically impossible within the time
limit. However, we decided to make a try for it, and so left Beauvais in
a small camion at 10:30 o'clock in the evening. At a railroad station on
the way we had a collision that did for our camion completely.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries. We left the disabled car by
the roadside about halfway to Paris and begged a ride on a French truck
that happened along. We reached Paris at 4:30 Sunday morning. Red Cross
officers had to be aroused and tradesmen routed out--no easy task on a
Sunday morning--but we had to have the supplies, and so did it. By 9:30
we had a new camion, already loaded with cigars and cigarettes from the
Red Cross warehouse, and lemons and tartaric-acid tablets from the shops
of Paris.

"About a quarter of the way back we had trouble with the new camion and
had to call for help again. This unpleasant and delaying experience was
twice repeated; so that, in fact, the entire load was thrice transferred
before it was finally delivered. But--please notice this--the entire
camion load of supplies was delivered at Chrepoix--two hours later than
the allotted time, to be sure, but still in plenty of time to serve the
purpose. Several days later I found two boys in one of the hospitals who
told me of their experiences in the Cantigny attack. They spoke of the
lemonade and said that they had never before known that lemons and
tartaric acid could taste so good to a thirsty man.... I think that our
trip was worth while."

In July of that same year, 1918, while serving hot drinks, cigarettes,
and sandwiches to the American wounded in the field hospital at
Montfontain, Captain Karr was severely wounded in the hip by the
explosion of an aërial bomb.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the space of a single chapter--even of enlarged length such as
this--it would be quite impossible to trace serially or chronologically
the development of the vast field service of our Red Cross. In fact I
doubt whether that could be done well within the confines of a book of
any ordinary length. So I have contented myself with showing you the
beginnings of this work, back there in the districts of the Somme and
the Oise at the beginning of the great German drive and have let the men
who knew of that service the best--the men who, themselves, participated
in it--tell you of it, largely in their very own words. And so shall
close the long chapter with the war-time story of a man who, like
Kimball of Boston, is fairly typical of our Red Cross workers in the

The name of this valedictorian is Robert B. Kellogg, and he arrived in
France--at Bordeaux, like so many of his fellow workers--on the
sixteenth day of July, 1918, reporting at Paris upon the following
evening. He came at a critical moment. The name of Château-Thierry was
again being flashed by cable all around the world; only this time and
for the first time there was coupled with it the almost synonymous
phrases of "American Army" and "victorious army." Kellogg--he soon after
attained the Red Cross rank of captain--was told of the great need of
additional help in handling the wounded which already were coming into
Paris in increasing numbers from both Château-Thierry and Veaux, and
asked if he could get to work at once. There was but one answer to such
a request. That very night he went on duty at Dr. Blake's hospital, out
in the suburban district of Neuilly, which had been taken over by the
American Red Cross some months before, but which now was being used as
an emergency evacuation hospital. For be it remembered that those very
July days were the crux of the German drive. In those bitter hours it
was not known whether Paris, itself, would be spared. The men and women
in the French capital hoped for the best, but always feared and
anticipated the worst.

For four fearful nights Captain Kellogg worked there in the Neuilly
hospital, carrying stretchers, undressing the wounded, taking their
histories, and at times even aiding in dressing their wounds. It was a
job without much poetry to it. In fact it held many intensely
disagreeable phases. But it was, at that, a fairly typical Red Cross
job, filled with perplexities and anxieties and long, long hours of hard
and peculiarly distasteful labor. Yet of such tasks is the real spirit
of Red Cross service born.

Four to the ambulance came the wounded into that haven of Neuilly. Many
of them were terribly wounded indeed; and practically none of them had
had more attention than hurriedly applied first-aid dressing. But the
appalling factor was not alone the seriousness of the wounds, but the
mere numbers of the wounded. They came in such numbers that at times
during those four eventful July evenings the floors of all the rooms of
the hospital--even the hallways and the garage--literally were covered
with stretchers. No wonder that the regular personnel of the place, even
though steadily increased for some months past, was unable to cope with
the crisis. Without the help of Kellogg and eight or nine other
emergency helpers from other ranks of the American Red Cross it is quite
possible that it would have collapsed entirely.

       *       *       *       *       *

Captain Kellogg's emergency task at Neuilly ended early in the morning
of the twenty-second; but there was no rest or respite in sight for him.
That very day a Red Cross captain stopped him at headquarters and asked
him if he was free.

"I guess so," grinned Kellogg.

"Then come out to Crépy and help us out," said the other American Red
Cross man. "We're in a good deal of a mess there."

"All right," was the reply. "I'm ready whenever you are."

He grinned again. He realized his own predicament. He had not yet been
assigned to any definite department; in fact, although he had given up
his precious American passport, he had not yet received the equally
precious "Red Cross Worker's Card," which was issued to all the war
workers in France and which was of infinite value to them in getting
about that sentry-infested land. He had no more identification papers
than a rabbit and realized that he might easily find himself in a deal
of trouble. Yet within the half hour he had packed his small _musette_
and grabbing up two blankets was on his way in an automobile toward the
front. He reached Crépy at about six o'clock that evening and reported
to Major Brown, of the Red Cross.

"He was called major," says Kellogg, as he describes the incident, "but
he wore nothing to indicate his rank and I never did find out just what
he was. He left for Paris the following day to get supplies, but he
never returned, nor did I hear from him again. There was nothing for us
to do that night and absolutely no provision for us. We obtained coffee
from a French Army kitchen and slept in a wheat field in the rain, with
our sole shelter a bit of canvas tied to the rear of our car."

There may be folk who imagine that war is all organization--certain
historians seemingly have done their best to create such an illusion.
But the men who have been upon the trench lines and in the fields of
open battle know better. They know that even well-organized armies, to
say nothing of the Red Cross and other equally well-organized and
disciplined auxiliaries, cannot function at the fullness of their
mechanical processes in the super-emergency of battle. There it is that
individual effort regains its ancient prestige and men are men, rather
than the mere human units of a colossal organization. Yet brilliant as
individual effort becomes, all organization is rarely lost. And so
Kellogg, in the deadening rain of that July night, found the situation
at Crépy about as follows: Two American evacuation hospitals--Numbers
Five and Thirteen--and a French one, located in the thick woods some
four miles distant from the town, which in turn was used as an
evacuating point for all of them--this meant that the patients were
brought in ambulances from these outlying hospitals to Crépy and there
placed on hospital trains, bound for Paris and other base-hospital
centers. The theory of such operation is both obvious and good. But in
the super-emergency of the third week of July, 1918, theory broke down
under practice. The evacuation hospitals in the woods received newly
wounded men in such numbers that they were obliged to clear those who
had received their first aid dressings with an unprecedented rapidity.
And this rapidity was quite too fast for the limited facilities of the
hospital trains; which meant congestion and much trouble at the Crépy
railhead--which was the precise place where Captain Kellogg of our
American Red Cross found himself early in the morning of the
twenty-third day of July.

"There was I," continues Kellogg, as he relates the narrative of his
personal experiences, "with Brown gone to Paris and no instructions
whatsoever left for me. But I didn't need any instructions--not after
that first bunch of wounded fellows came up there to the railhead--at
just a little before noon. There were perhaps three hundred of them, and
while they were waiting for the hospital trains they lay there in the
open--and it was raining--their stretchers in long rows, resting on the
cinders alongside the railroad tracks. I had secured a supply of
cigarettes, sweet chocolate, cookies, and bouillon cubes from a stock
left by Brown. I made a soup for the men and, with the help of some of
the litter bearers, distributed it and did what else I could for their
comfort. When the train came in and it was time to move the wounded upon
it, we found that we did not have nearly enough stretcher bearers. So I
went into the town and recruited a number of volunteers among the
soldiers--including several officers. That night I left my supplies in
the office of the French Railway Transport officer in the station and,
with a stretcher for a bed, found a place to sleep in what had been left
of a bombed house."

Let Captain Kellogg continue to tell his own story. He is doing pretty
well with it:

"The next day, Field Hospital No. 120 arrived and set up part of its
tents--sufficient to give protection for all patients thereafter who had
to wait for the trains. Medical and orderly attention was amply provided
after that, but the food supply, even for the officers and personnel of
the hospital company, was very limited and the soup that I was able to
make from the bouillon cubes proved a blessing.

"For several days the wounded passed through this point at the rate of
several hundred a day, and every man received what he wanted from the
Red Cross stock available. Hospital trains from other points sometimes
stopped at Crépy. When this happened I always boarded them and, with the
help of two enlisted men, distributed cigarettes and cookies. On about
my fifth day there the number of wounded being evacuated through that
railhead and the officers and personnel of its field hospital company
were ordered to one of the neighboring evacuation hospitals. Because of
the greatly reduced number of workers, our tasks were therefore rendered
much harder, even though the number of wounded had been somewhat
decreased. Our own comfort was not particularly increased. We moved into
a small tent which was fairly habitable, although it was both cold and
rainy nearly every day. I remember one night when it rained with such
violence that the tent floor became flooded. I awoke to find the
stretcher on which I was sleeping an island and myself lying in a pool
of water. On two occasions we were bombed at night."

All these days Kellogg was trying to get Red Cross headquarters at Paris
on the long-distance telephone. But all France was particularly
demoralized those last days of July; and the telephone service, never
too good under any circumstances, was gloriously bad. So after several
attempts to talk with headquarters and get some sort of instructions and
help, he decided that he would have to go there; which was easier said
than done. For remember that this Red Cross man had no credentials; in
fact, no identification papers of any sort whatsoever. While travel in
France in those days, and for many, many days and months thereafter, was
rendered particularly difficult and almost impossible by strict
regulations which compelled not only the constant display of
identification papers but a separate and definite military travel order
for each trip upon a railroad train. Which in turn meant that it would
be fairly suicidal for Kellogg to attempt to go into Paris by the only
logical way open to him--by train. It was more than doubtful if he would
have been able to even board one of them. For at every railroad station
in France stood blue-coated and unreasoning _poilus_ whose definite
authority was backed by the constant display of a grim looking rifle in
perfect working condition.

So Kellogg walked to Paris, not every step of the way, for there were
times when friendly drivers of camions gave him the bumping pleasure of
a short lift. But even these were not frequent. Travel from Crépy to
Paris at that particular time happened to be light. Still, after a night
at Senlis, in which he slept stretched across a table in a café, he did
manage to clamber aboard a truck filled with French soldiers and bound
straight for their capital.

       *       *       *       *       *

One might reasonably have expected an ordinary sort of man to have been
discouraged by such an experience, but a good many of our Red Cross men
over there were quite far removed from being ordinary men. And so
Kellogg, after a few days of routine office work at headquarters,
insisted upon his being given an outpost job once again. And soon after
was dispatched to the little town of La Ferte upon the Marne, not many
miles distant from Château-Thierry. This time he had his working papers;
to say nothing of the neat document which told "all men by these
presents" that he was a regular second lieutenant of the American Red
Cross. His upward progress had begun.

He waited several days at the American Red Cross warehouse at La Ferte,
during which time he had the opportunity of studying _boche_ aërial
bombardments--at extremely short range. Then he was forwarded to the
outpost at Cohan, conducted by Lieutenants Powell and Leighton as
partners. I may be pardoned if I interrupt Kellogg's narrative long
enough to insert a sentence or two about Powell. In some ways he was the
most remarkable of Red Cross men. Handicapped by a deformity, he stood
less than four feet and a half high, yet he was absolutely without fear.
Hard test showed that. The officers and men of the Twenty-eighth
Division with whom he had stood during the acid-test days on the drive
at Château-Thierry called him, pertinently and affectionately, "General

Cohan stood about five miles back from the front-line trenches and so
was under frequent artillery fire. The Red Cross outpost there was in a
partly demolished structure, one of the rooms of which had been used as
a stall and contained the body of a dead horse which could not be gotten
out through the door. It served that same Twenty-eighth Division with
whom Powell made so enviable a reputation.

The confusion that had prevailed at Crépy was, happily, missing at
Cohan. Powell and Leighton not only had an excellent stock of Red Cross
supplies, which were replenished twice a week from the La Ferte
warehouse, and a camionette in good order, but they had a systematic and
orderly method of distribution. As Kellogg worked with them he studied
their methods--it was a schooling of the very best sort for him. And he,
seemingly, was an apt scholar. On the twenty-first of August a Red Cross
man named Fuller, with supplies bound for the neighboring outposts of
Dravigny and Chéry, stopped at Cohan and asked Kellogg to ride on with
him. The course of study of "the game" was about completed. Kellogg had
been in actual Red Cross service for a full month--which in those days
made him a regular veteran. Fuller held a note from his commanding
officer which stated that if a driver could be assured the camionette
upon which he rode would be assigned to Chéry and Dravigny.

Thus was Red Cross Kellogg's next job set out for him. He had never
driven a Ford. But other folks have mastered such a handicap and Kellogg
had driven many real automobiles, and so went easily to the new job,
with such rapidity and skill that before the next night he was in sole
charge of the little camionette and driving it with professional speed
over the steel-torn battlefields and roads of the entire Château-Thierry

Dravigny and Chéry shocked and fascinated him. At the first of these two
towns our Red Cross men in charge were quite comfortably situated. They
occupied a house in very fair preservation which was situated in a
lovely garden and had large and bright rooms for living and for working.
But Kellogg remembers Chéry Chartreuve as a "hell hole."

"I can think of no better words with which to describe it," he says.
"Not a building with all four walls and a roof remained in all the
town. The débris of fallen walls and discarded military equipment
clogged the streets. Refuse and filth were everywhere. The sanitary
arrangements--well, there hadn't been any. The odor of dead horses
filled the air. Flies? There are no words to describe the awfulness of
the flies. Our own artillery--.75's and .155's--surrounded the town in
addition to occupying positions at each end of it and in its center. The
roar of these guns was continuous, the concussion tremendously
nerve-racking, while the presence of this artillery made the village a
target for the enemy guns. It was shelled day and night. And during the
nights the _boche_ seemed to take an especial delight in filling the
town with gas.

"Sleep was almost impossible. We had in one night five gas alarms, in
each case the concentration being sufficiently strong to necessitate the
gas masks. The dressing station was next to our sleeping quarters. It
was covered with gassed and exhausted doughboys who had crept in there
in search of shelter. At frequent intervals the ambulances would arrive
with fresh loads of wounded. The whistle and explosion of shells was
constant. A battery of .155's in our back yard nearly lifted us from our
cots each time it was fired. Once I got a dose of gas sufficient to
cause the almost complete loss of my voice and a throat trouble that
lasted for weeks."

Yet under conditions such as these, if not even worse, Kellogg and his
fellows worked--all day and usually until ten or eleven o'clock at
night. Their supplies went to the boys in the lines. This was not only
ordinarily true, but at Chéry, particularly so. The Seventy-seventh
Division had moved in close to the town, and on the twenty-ninth of
August, while the Red Cross workers were pausing for a few minutes to
catch up a snack of lunch, a shell landed plumb in front of their
outpost building. Its fragments entered the doors and windows and
perforated several of their food containers. Sugar, coffee, cocoa--all
spilled upon the floor.

The room was filled with men--soldiers as well as Red Cross--at the
moment. None was hurt. With little interval a second shell came. This
time two men who had taken refuge in a shed that formed a portion of the
building were killed. There was seemingly better shelter across the
street. To it the doughboys began running. Before they were well across
the narrow way, the third _boche_ visitor descended. It was a deadly
thing indeed. Thirty-eight American lives were its toll. Eleven lay dead
where they dropped. The others died before they could reach the
hospital, while the escape of the Red Cross men was little short of

The station had to be abandoned at once. The Red Cross moved back to
Dravigny in good order, and what was left of miserable Chéry Chartreuve
was speedily obliterated by the Germans.

       *       *       *       *       *

The record of Captain Kellogg's experiences with our Red Cross in France
reads like a modern _Pilgrim's Progress_. Our Christian who found
himself in khaki was quickly moved across the great checkerboard of war.
On one day he was reëstablishing the Chéry outpost at the little town
of Mareuil, from which point the Seventy-seventh could still be served,
but with far less danger; on the next he was far away from the
Seventy-seventh and at the little French town of Breny, at the service,
if you please, of the Thirty-second Division, United States Army. The
Seventy-seventh had been chiefly composed of New York State boys; they
wore the Statue of Liberty as an army insignia upon their uniforms. The
Thirty-second came from the Middle West--from Wisconsin and Michigan
chiefly. It had been in the lines northwest of Soissons--the only
American Division in the sector--and there had coöperated most
efficiently with the French. Its regiments were being used there as
shock troops to capture the town of Juvigny and territory beyond which
seemingly the tired French Army was quite unable to take. They were
accomplishing their huge task with typical American brilliancy, but also
in the American war fashion of a heavy loss of precious life. Because of
the isolation of the Thirty-second from the usual American bases of
supply it became peculiarly dependent upon our Red Cross for its tobacco
and other creature comforts, responsibility which our Red Cross regarded
as real opportunity. In addition to the ordinary comforts it ordered
some four thousand newspapers each day from Paris, which were
enthusiastically received by the doughboys. And you may be assured that
these were not French newspapers. They were those typically Parisian
sheets in the English language, the _New York Herald_, the _Chicago
Tribune_, and the _London Mail_.

Thereafter and until long weeks after the signing of the armistice
Kellogg remained with the Thirty-second, but did not cease his
_Pilgrim's Progress_. For the Division moved; here and there and
everywhere. For several weeks it was at Vic-sur-Aisne, while Red Cross
Kellogg--who by this time was a real Ford expert--was making hot
chocolate in a huge cave that once had been an American division
headquarters. Then it moved to a new sector, not far from Bar-le-Duc,
and Kellogg moved with it. In the meantime he had performed temporary
work at Neufchâteau--always an important division headquarters of the
American Red Cross--at Bar-le-Duc and at Rosnes; but these jobs were
merely stop-gaps--the real task was forever at the front lines. And
when, on the twenty-fourth of September, Kellogg came up with his
Division at Wally, he was ready for hard fighting once again. So was the
Thirty-second. It was moving forward a little each day and in fact was
already considered "in reserve" on September 26--the day of the
beginning of the great Argonne offensive. Two days later, with a
borrowed army truck and an American Red Cross camionette--both filled
with supplies to their limit--Kellogg and two of his Red Cross
associates moved forward nine miles to the Avecourt Wood and there
joined the Sixty-fourth Brigade of the Division. The brigade commander
furnished them with an old dugout--which for nearly four years past had
formed a part of the French trench system. After their supplies had been
dumped into the place there was just room left for the bedding rolls of
the Red Cross men, and even these overlapped one another. It rained
steadily for several days and the mud upon the floor of the dugout
became entirely liquefied. At night water came in through the doorway
and trickled in innumerable sprays down from the roof. The men lived in
mud knee-deep. Oh, it was some fun being a Red Cross man at the front in
those days of actual fighting! But the fun was some distance removed
from those popular reports of "the Battle of Paris" which used to come
trickling back to America for the edification and joy of the folk who
stayed behind. It was prunes and preserves being a Red Cross worker in
France in those autumn days of 1918. Only the trouble was that no one
ever could find the prunes or the preserves.

On the thirtieth day of September, the Thirty-second moved from the
Avecourt Woods to those of Montfaucon and assumed a military position of

"The intervening country had been No Man's Land for four years and the
condition of the roads can only be imagined," says Captain Kellogg. "We
followed the troops, who left at about eleven o'clock that morning, but
were soon caught in that tremendous congestion that existed on all the
roads during the first days of the drive. By dark we were still on the
road, having progressed less than two miles. We finally became
hopelessly stuck, being stalled, and were obliged to remain stuck
throughout the night. During the day we had given out many packages of
cookies to the tired and hungry men along the road. Many times since the
soldiers have spoken to me in appreciation of those cookies. That night
was one of the most uncomfortable experiences that I had in France. It
was so cold that we could not keep warm. This, coupled with the
occasional whine of incoming shells, prevented sleep, although
frequently we threw down our bedding rolls at the side of the road and
attempted it.

"In the morning we found a number of ambulances among the other stalled
vehicles. For more than forty-eight hours they had been on the road with
their wounded and neither drivers nor patients had been able to obtain
much of anything to eat or drink. We supplied them with cookies and gave
them what water we had in our canteens. Two of the wounded had died
during the night. Two others were unconscious and another was delirious.
The congestion ahead of us on the road that morning seemed as bad as
ever. Finally we managed to get out of that road entirely, making a
fresh start by a longer but less crowded way. At dusk that first day of
October found us still quite a distance from our Division. We spent that
night with some Signal Corps men in the cellar of a shell-shocked
building in Varennes. The following morning we succeeded in reaching our
destination and located ourselves with several enlisted men of the
Forty-third Balloon Company in a dugout which until a few days before
had been occupied by German officers.

"This place was interesting. Reached by a steep flight of steps, it was
sunk fully fifty feet below the surface. It consisted of three rooms and
a kitchen, the walls of each nicely boarded and the whole comfortably,
if roughly, finished.

"The combat regiments and battalions of our army were all around us in
the woods. We continued serving them. On the morning of the third I
drove back to Froidos for fresh supplies. Upon my return I found that
the troops of our Sixty-fourth Brigade were already on the road, moving
toward the town of Véry. We knew what this meant--that in the morning
they were going into the front lines and probably over the top. We
quickly unloaded cookies and cigarettes from the car and, standing by
the roadside in the dark, handed a supply of each to every soldier who
passed by.

"The troops went into the lines at Epinonville before daybreak on the
morning of the fourth of October. Lieutenant McGinnis of the Red Cross
and I arrived there about noon. Never shall I forget it. The battle
lines lay just a little way ahead of us. Machine guns still occupied the
town which then was under violent bombardment. In fact during the entire
three weeks that we made our headquarters at Epinonville there was not a
single day or night that the town was not subjected to shell fire.

"Our boys had made a first attack early in the morning of the fourth.
All that morning the wounded had been returning--in large numbers. Some
of them were brought to regimental dressing stations of the 128th
Infantry, but the majority were handled at that of the 127th. It was
here that we did most of our work during the next few days. The station
was in a sort of dugout, made of boards and builded into a sidehill. In
the ditch beside it a sizable salvage pile had materialized already,
clothing and bandages--both blood-soaked, rifles, shoes, helmets, mess
kits, here and there a hand or a foot. On the ground, lying on
stretchers, were a number of wounded men waiting for the ambulances that
would take them to the field hospitals. All about were soldiers;
slightly wounded, gassed, shell-shocked, or just plain sick or
exhausted. Down the road could be seen a bunch of prisoners just
captured that morning. On its opposite side lay the bodies of several of
our fellows who had just died, while across the fields beyond stretched
slow-moving, irregular processions of litter bearers, bringing in their
burdens of wounded men.

"Such were the scenes and conditions that greeted us in Epinonville.
There was work a-plenty awaiting us, and we lost no time in taking
possession of a shack for our outpost of the American Red Cross. We
quickly unpacked our supplies and moved into it. McGinnis had a rather
formidable job of making some twenty gallons of cocoa, while I, equipped
with cookies, cigarettes, and canteens filled with water, did what I
could for the wounded in and around the dressing station.

"Late in the afternoon it became necessary for me to return to our
dugout in the woods for supplies which we had been unable to bring in on
the first trip. So, leaving McGinnis to take care of the dressing
stations, I started back, taking with me a load of wounded men for whom
no ambulance was available. Our route took us over a dilapidated plank
road through the narrow valley between Epinonville and Véry. We had
covered perhaps half of this road when Fritz began a bombardment of the
valley which lasted fully fifteen minutes. A French artillery outfit was
moving ahead of us at a snail's pace and we could not pass it because of
the narrowness of the road. Some of the shells were breaking close at
hand, showering the car with shrapnel and fragments, but there was no
way I could remove the wounded to a place of safety. There was nothing
to do but pray for luck and keep going as fast as the slow-moving
artillery ahead would permit. Several men within our sight were hit
during those fifteen minutes, but fortune favored us. Not one of our men
was even scratched and I delivered my load safely at the _triage_ at

"Arriving at Epinonville late that evening I worked at the dressing
station most of the night, serving hot cocoa, cookies, and cigarettes to
the wounded and the men who were working for their comfort. During these
first days there was hardly any food, and the doctors worked
continuously day and night with only such sleep as they could snatch for
a few minutes at a time.

"During the sixteen days that the Division was in the front line after
we went into Epinonville, our first attention was given to the dressing
stations and the wounded. As fast as new stations were opened at farther
advanced points, we reached them with our cocoa and cookies. The
ordinarily simple task of making cocoa became, under the conditions
which we faced, a huge job. We usually made enough at a time to fill our
four five-gallon thermos containers and almost always we had to do the
work ourselves. Water was always scarce and to get enough of it was a
problem. Wood had to be cut and fires made and handled with the utmost
caution so that no smoke would show.

"Other conditions aside from the danger that constantly threatened were
equally difficult. The weather was awful--cold and rainy, with deep mud
everywhere. Eating was an uncertain and precarious proposition. The
shack that we called home was--well, you would hesitate to put a dog in
it in normal times.

"Our most interesting work generally was done under the cover of
darkness. For instance, there came a night when we particularly wanted
to reach Company K of our 128th Infantry. One of its cooks offered to go
with us as guide, and so, with our car loaded with hot cocoa, cookies,
cigarettes, sweet chocolate, and chewing tobacco, we left Epinonville
shortly after dusk. A mile or so out we diverged from the road, our
route then taking us across the shell-torn fields, with only a faint
footpath to follow. Of course no light was possible and a blacker night
there never was. Tommy--the company cook--and McGinnis walked
immediately in front of the car indicating the course I should take. We
continued thus until we had penetrated beyond some of our machine-gun
positions. Ahead of us and back of us and all around us shells were
bursting. The sing of machine-gun bullets was in the air. Our mission
seemed hopeless, but we knew that those boys of Company K had been lying
in the shell holes and the shallow dugouts for two long days with little
to eat, drink, or smoke. We determined to reach them. Star shells were
lighting the fields ahead of us, and finally we dared not proceed
farther with the car for fear it would be seen and draw fire. Figuring
that we could get a detail of boys to come back for the cans of cocoa
and other things, we left the car in the lee of a hill and went ahead on
foot, taking with us what we could carry in our pockets and sacks. K
Company had shifted its position, however, and we could not locate it.
We distributed the stuff we had with us to the soldiers we passed and
then returned to the car. Here we sought out the officers of the outfits
lying nearest us and gained their permission to let the men--a few at a
time--come to the car, where we served them until our stock was
exhausted. Most of these men were from the 127th. Some were from a
machine-gun battalion. These boys for several days had been dependent
upon their 'iron rations.' Mere words cannot express their appreciation
of our hot cocoa and other things. I recall that our chewing tobacco
made a great hit with them. They could not smoke after dark and welcomed
something that would take the place of smoking."

Enough of the incidental detail of the Red Cross worker. I think that
you have now gained a fair idea of what his job really was; of not alone
the danger that it held for him at all times, but the manifold
discomforts, the exposure, the almost unending hours of hard, hard work.
Multiply Red Cross Kellogg by Red Cross Jones and Smith and Brown and
Robinson--to the extent of several hundreds--and you will begin to have
only a faint impression of the magnitude of concerted work done by the
men of our American Red Cross in the battlefields of France in those
fall and summer months of 1918. A good deal has been written about the
Red Cross woman--before you are done with this book I shall have some
more things to say about them, myself. A word of praise at least is the
due of the Red Cross man. They are not the shirkers or the slackers that
some thoughtless folk imagined them--decidedly not. They were
men--generally well above the army age of acceptance, even as
volunteers--who found that they could not keep out of the immortal fight
for the freeing of the liberty of the world.

Take the case of Lieutenant Kellogg's right-hand man--now Captain
McGinnis. He was a Coloradian and nearly fifty years of age when the
United States entered the World War. He is not a particularly robust
man, and yet when we finally did slip into the great conflict, it was
this Red Cross McGinnis who recruited an entire company of infantry for
the Colorado National Guard and was commissioned a first lieutenant in
it. When the National Guard was made a part of the Federal Army,
McGinnis was discharged. He was too old, they said.

The man was nearly broken-hearted; but his determination never wavered.
He was bound to get into the big fight. If the army would not have him
there might perhaps be some other militant organization that would.
There was. It was the Red Cross--our own American Red Cross if you
please. And what McGinnis, of Colorado, meant to our Red Cross you
already have seen.

Multiply the McGinnises as well as the Kelloggs and you begin once again
to get the great spirit and power of the Red Cross man. Danger, personal
danger? What mattered that to these? They consecrated soul and spirit,
and faced danger with a smile or a jest, and forever with the sublime
optimism of a youth that will not die, even though hair becomes gray and
thin lines seam the countenance. And now and then and again they, too,
made the supreme sacrifice. The American Red Cross has its own high-set
honor roll.

After the signing of the armistice, Kellogg's beloved Thirty-second
Division was one of those chosen for the advance into the Rhineland
countries. It had fairly earned this honor. For in those
not-to-be-forgotten twenty days of October that it had held a front-line
sector, it had gained every objective set for it. Therefore it was
relieved from active duty on the twentieth and sent back to the Véry
Woods in reserve. But Kellogg and his fellows were not placed "in
reserve"--not at that moment, at any rate.

They found "their boys" tired and miserable, living in the mud in "pup
tents" and greatly in need of Red Cross attention and assistance.
Finally, on the twenty-eighth and under the insistence of their
commanding officers, Kellogg and McGinnis went back to Bar-le-Duc for
five days of rest. They needed it. There was a Red Cross bathing outfit
at Bar-le-Duc, and the two men needed that also. It had been more than
six weeks since they had even had an opportunity to bathe.

Armistice Day found the Thirty-second in actual fighting once again and
Kellogg and McGinnis with it--by this time one might almost say "of
course." It was located in and about Ecurey and kept up the fighting
until the fateful eleven o'clock in the morning set for the cessation of
hostilities. The Division remained at Ecurey for just a week after the
signing of the armistice. Then it began its long hike toward the east,
passing through Luxembourg and down to the Moselle at the little village
of Wasserbillig, where it arrived on the twenty-ninth day of November.

Kellogg, McGinnis, and some other of our Red Cross men--to say nothing
of a big Red Cross truck--kept with it. While it had been assumed by the
Paris headquarters of the American Red Cross that it would be
impossible to serve the boys on their long march into the occupied area
and so no provision was made for the forwarding of comfort supplies, as
a matter of actual fact there was a good deal that could be done--and
was done.

In such a situation was Red Cross opportunity, time and time and time
again. And if Paris for a little was neglectful of the fullness of all
of it, our Red Cross men who were at the Rhine were not--not for one
single moment. They were on the job, and, with the limited facilities at
hand, more than made good with it. One single final incident will show:

On the morning that the Thirty-second swung down into Wasserbillig from
the pleasant, war-spared Luxembourg country and first entered Prussian
Germany, the Red Cross men with it found that two of their
fellows--Lieutenants R. S. Gillespie and Robert Wildes--were already
handling the situation. These men had previously been engaged in similar
work at Longwy, and had been sent forward with a five-ton truck, loaded
with foodstuffs, for such returning prisoners--and there were many of
them--as the Thirty-second might encounter on its eastward march. Under
Lieutenant Gillespie's direction a canteen already was in operation at
the railroad station there in Wasserbillig. Equipped with a small supply
of tin cups, plates, and the like--to say nothing of several stoves--it
was serving soup, bread, jam, beans, bacon, corned beef, and coffee. The
prisoners (soldiers and civilians--men, women, and children, and many of
them in a pitiable condition) came through from Germany on the trains up
the valley of the Moselle. They had a long wait, generally overnight, in
Wasserbillig. And there the American Red Cross fed them by the hundreds,
and in every possible way ministered to their comfort.

It saw opportunity, and reached to it. It saw a chance of service, and
welcomed it. The record of its welcome is written in the hearts and
minds and memories of the boys who marched down the valley of the
Moselle, through Treves and Cochem, to Coblenz. From those hearts and
minds and memories they cannot easily be erased.

Many an ancient piano did herculean service in the A. R. C. recreation
huts throughout France]



After all is said and done, what is the supreme purpose of the Red

I think that any one who has made even a cursory study of the
organization--its ideals and history--should have but little hesitancy
in finding an answer for that question. Despite its genuine achievement
in such grave crises as the San Francisco earthquake and fire, for
instance, its real triumphs have almost always been wrought upon the
field of war. And there its original mission was definite--the succoring
of the wounded. That mission was quite as definite in this Great War so
lately ended as in the days of Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton.
The canteen work of our Red Cross in the past two years for our boys who
came and went across France and Germany was interesting and important;
its field work, which you have just seen, even more so. Yet its great
touch--almost, I should say, its touch divine--came not merely when the
boys traveled or when they went upon the field of battle, but rather
when the iron hand of war cruelly smote them down. Then it was that our
Red Cross was indeed the Greatest Mother in the World--the symbolic
spirit of its superb poster most amply realized, in fact.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hospital work of the American Red Cross in France, particularly in
its medical phases as distinct from those more purely of entertainment,
was, in the several successive forms of organization of the institution
over there, known as the Medical and Surgical Division or Department,
although finally as the Bureau of Hospital Administration. In fact it
was almost the only department of our Red Cross in France which did not,
for one reason or another, undergo reorganization after reorganization.
This, in turn, has accounted for much of its efficiency. It was builded
on a plan which foresaw every emergency and from which finally the more
permanent scheme for the entire Red Cross was drawn.

"We divided our job into three great steps," the man who headed it most
successfully told me one day in Paris. "The first was to meet the
emergency that arose, no matter where it was or what it was; the second
was to perfect the organization, and the third and final step was to
tell about it--to make our necessary reports and the like."

A program which, rigidly set down, was rigidly adhered to. Remember, if
you will once again, that under the original organization of the
American Red Cross in France there were two great operating departments
side by side; one for military affairs, the other for civil. In those
early days the Department of Military Affairs grouped its work chiefly
under the Medical and Surgical Division which was headed by Colonel
Alexander Lambert, a distinguished New York physician who then bore the
title of Chief Surgeon of the American Red Cross. It was this early
division which planned the first of the great American Red Cross
hospitals in France, of which very much more in good time.

In January, 1918, this Medical and Surgical Division became known as the
Medical and Surgical Section of the Department of Military Affairs,
while Captain C. C. Burlingame, a young and energetic doctor who had met
with much success in the New England manufacturing village of South
Manchester, Connecticut, became its guiding head. Of Captain
Burlingame--he attained the United States Army rank of lieutenant
colonel before the conclusion of the war--you also shall hear much more.
It would be quite difficult, in fact, to keep him out of the pages of
this book, if such were the desire. One of the most energetic, the most
tireless, the most efficient executives of our Red Cross in France, he
accomplished results of great brilliancy through the constant use of
these very attributes. Within six months after his arrival in France he
had risen from first lieutenant to the army rank of captain, while his
real achievements were afterward recognized in decorations by the French
of their _Médaille d'Honneur_ and by the new Polish Government of its
precious Eagle.

In these weeks and months of the first half of 1918, Burlingame found
much of his work divided into several of the functions of the Department
of Civil Affairs--particularly among such sectors as the Children's
Bureau, the Bureau of Tuberculosis, and the Bureau of Refugees. This was
organization business. It took strength from that very arm of the Red
Cross which soon was to be called upon to accomplish so very much
indeed. And when, on the twenty-fourth of August, 1918, the Gibson
reorganization plan divorced the Medical and Surgical Section entirely
from the work of the Department of Civil Affairs and combined its entire
activities into a Medical and Surgical Department, Burlingame and his
fellows had a free hand for the first time, a full opportunity to put
their tripartite policy into execution.

For a time Colonel Fred T. Murphy was director of this newly created
department. On January 6, 1919, however, he was succeeded by Colonel
Burlingame, who had been so instrumental in framing both the policies
and carrying out the actual operations of the department. On that same
day the former Medical and Surgical Section of the Department of
Military Affairs became the Bureau of Hospital Administration. The
Bureau of Tuberculosis was transferred as such to this new department,
as was also the Children's Bureau. The Women's Bureau of Hospital
Administration which, under the old organization, was reporting to the
general manager, became the Bureau of Nurses, while the work for the
_mutilés_, which was being conducted by both the departments of Military
Affairs and Civil Affairs, was relegated to a new bureau.

I have given these changes in some detail not because they were in
themselves so vastly important, as because they tend to show how firm a
grasp Burlingame gained not only on the operations but upon the very
organization of his work. He did not reorganize; he perfected, and
finally was able to perfect even the Gibson general plan of organization
for our Red Cross in France which was recognized as the most complete
thing of its sort that had been accomplished.

For the purpose of better understanding the activities of this bureau,
it may be well to divide its activities into four great classes. The
first of these would group those activities conducted directly by the
Surgeon General's office of the United States Army, but to which our Red
Cross gave frequent aid in the line of supplies, supplementing those
normally furnished through the usual army channels. Sometimes not only
supplies but personnel was furnished. Such aid was given upon request of
army officers.

Under the second grouping one finds those great hospitals, in most cases
established by the American Red Cross while the medical and surgical
plans of our army were still forming and were in a most unsettled and
confused state. These were known, even after the Surgeon General had
taken them under his authority, as American Red Cross Military
Hospitals. They were then operated jointly by the United States Army and
our Red Cross; the army being usually responsible for the scientific
care and discipline of the organization, while our Red Cross took upon
its shoulders both the actual business management and the supplying of
the necessary materials.

The third and fourth groupings are smaller, although, in their way,
hardly less consequential. In the one were the American Red Cross
Hospitals which were operated purely for military purposes and for which
the American Red Cross assumed the full responsibility of operation,
while in the other were the hospitals, infirmaries, and dispensaries
which were operated by the Red Cross--in some few cases jointly with the
other organizations--for the benefit of civilians, including several
thousand American civilian war workers who found themselves in France
during the past two years.

       *       *       *       *       *

If I have bored you with these details of organization it has been to
the direct purpose that you might the better understand how this
important phase of Red Cross operation functioned. Now, for the moment,
forget organization once again. Go back to the earlier days of our Red
Cross in France--the days of Grayson M.-P. Murphy and James H. Perkins
and their fellows.

None of these men either realized or fully understood either the
importance or the overwhelming size to which the hospital function of
the United States Army would attain before our boys had been in actual
warfare a full year. The army itself did not realize that. Remember that
for many weeks and even months after Pershing had arrived in Paris its
hospital plans were in embryo. In this situation our Red Cross found one
of its earliest opportunities, and rose to it. With Colonel Lambert--he
then was Major Lambert--in charge of its Medical and Surgical Division
it began casting about to see how it might function most rapidly and
most efficiently.

To the nucleus of the army that began pouring into France in the early
summer of 1917, it began the distribution of emergency stores--a task to
which we already have referred and shall refer again. It hastily secured
its own storerooms--in those days quite remote and distant from the
American Relief Clearing House and the other general warehouses of the
American Red Cross--and from these in July, 1917, sent to 1,116
hospitals, practically all of them French, exactly 2,826 bales of
supplies. In December of that same year it sent to 1,653
hospitals--including by this time many American ones--4,740 bales of
similar supplies. It was already gaining strength unto itself.

Surgical dressings formed an important portion of the contents of these
packages. Our Red Cross did not wait upon America for these; the huge
plan for standardizing and making and forwarding these from the United
States was also still in process of formation. It went to work in Paris,
and without delay, so that by the end of 1917 two impressive
manufacturing plants were at work there--one at No. 118 Rue de la
Faisandre, where 440 volunteer workers and a hundred paid workers were
averaging some 183,770 dressings a week, and a smaller establishment at
No. 25 Rue Pierre Charron, where a hundred volunteer and ninety paid
workers were at similar tasks. Eventually a third workroom was added to
these. And it is worth noting, perhaps, that immediately after the
signing of the armistice these three workrooms were turned into
manufactories for production of influenza masks, for which there was a
great emergency demand. In three weeks they turned out more than 600,000
of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hospitalization phases of the Medical and Surgical Department of our
Red Cross over there were, of course, far more difficult than those of
the mere production or storage of dressings and other medical supplies.
And they involved a vast consideration of the human factors of the
super-problem of the conflict.

"In this war there were two kinds of fellows," Colonel Burlingame told
me one evening in Paris as we sat talking together, "the ones who went
over the top and those who didn't. It was up to the second bunch to look
out for the first--at every time and opportunity, which brings us
squarely to the question of the French hospitals, and the American
soldiers who woke up to find themselves in them. You see the Red Cross
was just as responsible for those fellows as for the ones who went
directly into our own hospitals over here. The French authorities told
me not to worry about those boys. 'We will take very good care of them,'
they said, and so they meant to do. 'Who will take care?' I asked them
in return.

"I went straight to one of the chief surgeons of their army. I put the
matter to him as plainly as I could. 'You are the best ever,' I said to
him, 'but--don't you see?--you are tired out. We want to help you. Can't
we? Won't you let us loan you nurses and other American personnel as you
need them?'

"Would they? Say, the French fell for that suggestion like ducks, and we
sent them thirty or forty girls, just as a beginning. Can you think of
what it would mean for one of our Yankee boys wounded in a French
hospital and perhaps ready to go on an operating table to lose an arm or
a leg and then finding no one who could speak his kind of language? And
what it would mean if a nice girl should come along--his own sort of a
nice girl--ready to let him spill his own troubles out to her--in his
own sort of jargon?"

I felt, myself, what it would mean. I had heard before of what the Red
Cross Bureau of Hospital Administration was accomplishing under the
technical designation of the Service of Professional Aid to the _Service
de Santé_--this last the medical division of the French Army
establishments. The first opportunity for this service came when General
Pershing told Marshal Foch that the American Army was there to be used
as the French high commander in chief saw fit to use it. Whereupon Foch
moved quickly and brigaded our men with his between Montdidier and
Soissons, which meant, of course, the evacuating of the casualties
through the French hospitals. The helpless condition of our American
boys who did not speak French--and very few of them did--can therefore
easily be imagined. They could not tell their wishes nor be advised as
to what was going to be done with them. It was then that Burlingame
sensed the situation in its fullness; that, with much diplomacy, he
first approached Dr. Vernet Kléber, the commander of the French-American
section of the French _Service de Santé_, saying that he realized that
its service had been taxed to the uttermost and proffering the use of
American Red Cross personnel. And Dr. Kléber accepted.

The thirty or forty nurses did not come at one time. But within
twenty-four hours, four of them--two nurses and two nurses' aids, and
all of them speaking French--were dispatched to the French hospital at
Soissons where the first American patients were being received. The
movement of the First and Second Divisions in the Beauvais and
Montdidier sectors right after increased very greatly this flow of
Yankee doughboys into French hospitals--and the American nurses were
thrown into them in far greater numbers. Soon a still more definite plan
was adopted, which resulted in American nurses, speaking French, being
installed in each and every French military hospital which received
American wounded. Under this arrangement our nurses were given French
military papers for free travel--at the very outset, one of the many
time-saving arrangements in a situation which all too frequently was a
race between time and death. Another time-saving scheme provided for the
reassignment of nurses used by the French _Service de Santé_ without the
necessity of approval in advance by Paris headquarters. This very
flexible and sensible plan relieved the situation of much red tape and
made for immediate results. And not the least of its advantages was the
fact that it actually did much to enhance the _entente cordiale_ of the
fighting forces of the two allied nations.

The first call for nurses under this new arrangement came in May, 1918,
when a nurse and an aid were sent to the French Military Hospital at
Besançon in the extreme east of France and south of the fighting zones.
The second came from La Rochelle, down on the Atlantic coast. After that
the calls were almost continuous, until our American nurses had been
sent to all corners of France; the service covering thirty-one
departments and eighty-eight cities.

Sometimes, when the calls were particularly urgent and the distances
not so great, the nurses were sent in camionettes, for time always was
an important factor. But more often the nurse and her aid rode by rail,
armed with the military permits that were so necessary a feature of
travel in France during the days of the actual conflict. One of these
girls wrote quite graphically of one of these journeys.

"It was quite dark; there wasn't a light in the car or in the
countryside," she said. "Off on the horizon we could see the guns
flashing. A very nervous man sat opposite me, pulled out his flashlight
about every five minutes, consulted his time-table and announced the
next station. Finally he alighted and the only way that we knew when we
had reached our station was because heads appeared at every window when
we stopped, asking the name of the stopping place. After the information
was given the passengers would pile out for that particular place and
step into the inky darkness. After which they might resign themselves to
spending the rest of the night curled up on one of the uninviting small
benches in the station."

The diet of the average doughboy and the average _poilu_--sick or
well--was almost always different. To accomplish this each Red Cross
nurse, upon being sent to her assignment, was given small sums of money
to spend for the comfort of her patients. In this way she was often able
to obtain such things as milk, eggs, or a chop for a Yankee boy who
wearied of the diet constantly given to the _poilu_.

These nurses, like those which were held by the Red Cross in reserve for
the emergency needs of our army in France, were in direct charge of the
Nurses' Bureau of Colonel Burlingame's department. Incidentally, this
bureau furnished some ten thousand nurses in France, of whom eight
thousand were army reserves.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great need of this service in the French hospitals was shown in the
extensions of the plan. In several instances where a United States Army
hospital unit was stationed near a French one, the American patients
were gradually evacuated to it, our Red Cross nurses being retained on
duty as long as was necessary. There were, of course, many of these
American hospitals--some of which you shall come to see before you are
finished with the pages of this book. In all of these our Red Cross
functioned, both in the furnishing of many of their supplies as well as
in the giving of entertainment to their patients. Of all these things,
more in good time. Consider now, if you please, the distinctive Red
Cross hospitals themselves--some of which long preceded in France the
coming of the larger regulation hospitals of the United Sates Army.

The first of these great institutions of our own Red Cross to be secured
over there--it bore the distinctive serial title of Number One--was
located in the Neuilly suburban district of Paris. It was a handsome
modern structure of brick--a building which had been erected for use as
a boarding school or college. It was barely completed at the time of the
first outbreak of the Great War, and so was easily secured by a group of
patriotic Americans in Paris and,--then designated as the American
Ambulance Hospital,--placed at the service of the French, who then were
in grievous need of such assistance. When we came into the war, this
hospital, which contained between five and six hundred beds, was put
under the United States Army and the American Red Cross and turned over
to the Red Cross for actual operation.

American Red Cross Hospital Number Two--a private institution of the
highest class--was formerly well known to the American colony in Paris
as Dr. Blake's. Like the Number One, it was one of the chief means by
which the Stars and Stripes was kept flying in Europe throughout the
early years of the war. It not only contained three hundred beds, but a
huge Red Cross research laboratory, where a corps of bacteriologists was
quickly put to work under the general control of the Surgeon General's
office of the army and making valuable investigations, records, and
summaries for the American medical profession for many years to come.

Number Three, on the left bank of the Seine, was for a time known as the
Reid Hospital. It was at one time a home or dormitory for girl art
students in Paris. Later it was transformed into a hospital by Mrs.
Whitelaw Reid of New York, who gave it, furnished and equipped, to the
American Red Cross and arranged to pay practically all its running
expenses. It was a comparatively small establishment of eighty beds,
which were reserved almost entirely for officers, and personnel of our
Red Cross.

       *       *       *       *       *

From this most modest nucleus there was both steady and rapid growth
until, at the time of the signing of the armistice, there were not three
but eight of the American Red Cross Military Hospitals: the three of
which you have just read; Number One in Neuilly; Number Two (Dr.
Blake's) in Rue Piccini; Number Three (the Reid Hospital) in the Rue de
Chevreuse; Number Five, the tent institution which sprang up on the
famous Bois de Boulogne race course at Auteuil; Number Six at Bellevue;
Number Seven at Juilly; Number Eight at Malabry (these last three in the
suburbs of Paris), and Number Nine in the Boulevard des Batignoles,
within the limits of the city itself.

The so-called American Red Cross hospitals were generally somewhat
smaller. They were Number 100 at Beaucaillou, St. Julien in the Gironde,
Number 101 at Neuilly, Number 102 at Neufchâteau, Number 103 also at
Neuilly, Number 104 at Beauvais, with an annex at Chantilly, Number 105
at Juilly, Number 109 at Evreux, and Number 113, the Czecho-Slovak
Hospital, at Cognac. In addition to these there was a further group of
smaller hospitals, which were operated in the same way as the American
Red Cross military hospitals. These included Number 107 at
Jouy-sur-Morin, Number 110 at Villers-Daucourt, Number 111 at
Château-Thierry, Number 112 in the Rue Boileau, Paris, Evacuation
Hospital Number 114 at Fleury-sur-Aire in the Vosges, Base Hospital
Number 41 at St. Denis, and Base Hospital No. 82 at Toul. While outside
of all of these lists were three small institutions in Paris, operated
in coöperation with the French, but far too unimportant to be listed

There were twenty-six of these American Red Cross hospitals of one form
or another established in France through the war. Yet, impressive as
this list might seem to be at a first glance, it, of course, falls far
short of the great total of the regular base and evacuation hospitals
set up by the Medical Corps of our army throughout France and the
occupied districts of Germany. Yet even these, as we shall see
presently, were constantly dependent upon the functioning of our Red
Cross. And, after all, it was chiefly a question of the mere form of

"Form?" said Colonel Burlingame to me that same evening as we sat
together in Paris. "What do you mean by form? There is no such
thing--not in war, at any event. When they used to come to me with their
red tape tangles I would bring them up with a quick turn, saying: 'See
here, the Red Cross is not engaged in winning the war for the Allies, or
even for the good old U. S. A. We are here to help the United States win
the war.'"

Not such a fine distinction as it might first seem to be.

"That was our principle and we stuck by it," continued Burlingame. "And
any one who deviated from it got bumped, and bumped hard."

You could trust the young military surgeon for that, just as his own
superior officers could trust him to produce results, time and time
again. For instance there was that week in July when the news came to
him--through an entirely unofficial but highly authentic channel--that
the First and Second Divisions of the United States Army were going to
be used somewhere near Château-Thierry as shock troops against the
continued German drive. For weeks past he had been carefully watching
the big war map of France that hung upon the wall of his office,
indicating upon it with tiny pin flags the steady oncoming of the enemy.
And in all those weeks he had been making pretty steady and definite
plans against the hour when he would be called upon to act, and to act

Already he had formed that habit of quick action. Once, it was the
seventeenth of June, I think, he had had good opportunity to use it. The
First and Second were already in action along the Marne, brigaded with
the French, and Burlingame was driving along the rear of their
positions. But he supposed that the Divisions were in reserve; he did
not realize that it was in actual fighting, not at least until he espied
a dust-covered and wounded American quartermaster sergeant staggering
down the road. The Red Cross man stopped his car and put the wounded man
into it.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

"I got hit--with a machine gun," stated the sergeant. "That is, I was
with the machine gun. I'd never seen one of the d----d things before,
but we were fighting. I got a squad around me and we tackled it. We were
making the old bus hum when--well, they tickled me with a lot of

Burlingame waited for no further explanations. He headed his car around
and at top speed raced back to Paris. As he rode he studied a pocket map
that he always had with him. Montmirial! That was the place he had set
out in his mental plans for this sort of emergency; in _just_ this sort
of an emergency.

The stop at Paris was short; just long enough to load some fifteen tons
of hospital supplies in the swiftest trucks Major Osborne's
Transportation Department could supply, to pick up the highly capable
Miss Julia Stimson--then chief nurse of the American Red Cross--then off
to the front once again. Beyond the fact that the emergency hospital
would be somewhere in the neighborhood of Montmirial, the destination of
the swift-moving caravan was quite uncertain. Burlingame and Miss
Stimson were both route makers and pace makers. They led the way right
up behind the front-line positions, to the chief surgeon of that portion
of the French Army with which the First Division was then brigaded. An
American colonel was talking to a Frenchman at the moment.

"We're here," reported Burlingame.

"Who's we?" asked the Yankee officer.

"The emergency hospital of the American Red Cross," was the instant

The French staff located the outfit immediately, in an ancient château
at Jouy-sur-Morin near by, which immediately became A. R. C. Military
Hospital Number 107--and in a single memorable day evacuated some 1,400
American wounded.

It took real work and lots of it to set up such a hospital as this; also
an appreciable amount of actual equipment. First there came the tents
and the cots--the most important parts of a mobile evacuation
hospital--afterward, in orderly but quick sequence, the portable
operating room, with four tables designed for the simultaneous work of
four operating teams; each consisting of a chief surgeon, an assistant,
two orderlies, and two women nurses. The tables were, of course, but the
beginning of the operating-room equipment alone. There had to be huge
quantities of instruments, anæsthetizing tools; and the like.

"Not merely half a dozen forceps," says Burlingame, "but dozens upon
dozens of them."

"How could you get them all together?" I asked him.

"It was easy. We figured it all out--when we still had less than fifty
thousand American soldiers in France. So that when we had a call for an
operating-room outfit we did not have to stop and wonder what we should
send out for a well-equipped one. All that was done well in advance,
with the result that in the high-pressure months of May and June, 1918,
we began to reap the benefits of all the dirty work and the drudgery of
the fall of 1917."

       *       *       *       *       *

I interrupted myself--purposely. I was talking of that first week in
July when the word came that the First and Second Divisions--no longer
brigaded with the French, but standing by themselves as integral factors
of the United States Army--were going into action at Château-Thierry.
The results of that action need no recounting here. They have passed
into the pages of American history along with Saratoga and Yorktown and
Gettysburg and Appomattox. They are not germane here and now to the
telling of this story of our Red Cross in action. It is germane,
however, to know that within fifteen minutes of the receipt of the news
of the beginning of the Château-Thierry fight, Burlingame of the
American Red Cross was in his swift automobile and on his way there.

Information already had reached him that our troops were to be pushed
northward from Château-Thierry and the sectors about Rheims and
southeastward from Montdidier. Acting upon this somewhat meager
information he headed his machine straight toward Soissons. A wild ride
it was, every mile of it; for Burlingame well knew that every moment
counted in the crucial battle against the Germans.

From time to time he would meet motor cars or camions or little groups
of soldiers who, in response to his signalings, would stop and frankly
tell him what they knew about the position or the movement of our army.
But all this information was also meager, and much of it was
contradictory. Finally, however, at an obscure crossroads he stumbled
upon a group of more than ordinary intelligent Yanks who gave him news
which seemed so accurate and so vital that he halted his car and pulled
out his road maps. He located himself quickly. And it was not a long
guess that decided him then and there to establish a hospital.

Remember, if you will, that this man Burlingame is exceedingly long on
common sense, quick thinking, and quick acting; short, if you please, on
that abominable thing known as red tape. Sensing the situation with a
keenness that, in the light of after events, was uncanny, he decided
that, when the clash came, it would come midway between Soissons and
Château-Thierry, a little to the east of the point where he had halted
his car. And there it came. "It was bound to be a hard bump," said he,
and so it was.

He at once got in touch with the American Red Cross warehouses at
Beauvais and at Paris and ordered medical and surgical and hospital
supplies in abundance forwarded to Chantilly--the point where he had so
quickly decided he would locate the emergency evacuation hospital. He
ordered eight surgeons, sixteen nurses, and twelve enlisted men, who
were on duty at A. R. C. Hospital Number 104, at Beauvais, to proceed at
once to Chantilly, where they were met by additional Red Cross personnel
sent on direct from Paris. He made arrangements with the Ambulance St.
Paul, which was then located at Chantilly, to establish the material and
men and women being rushed from Paris and from Beauvais as an annex to
its formation. Thus, in a mere twelve hours, was established an American
hospital along the French lines of communication.

And none too quickly. On the following morning the big fighting set in
to the north of Château-Thierry. And within a few hours the American
wounded began pouring into the old French château town of Chantilly. In
three weeks just 1,364 of our boys had been accommodated in our
emergency Red Cross hospital there; after which there was a shifting of
positions and of armies with a removal of the victorious Americans to
other sectors, and only French were left in the neighborhood. Which, in
turn, rendered it quite easy for our Red Cross to turn over the entire
equipment to our French allies, who stood in great need of it.

Château-Thierry was in fact the first really great test of the American
Red Cross. It was its first opportunity to perform its chief and most
vital service--the succoring of the wounded men of the United States
Army. It met that test. As a single example of the many ways in which it
met the test consider the request for three thousand blankets, in
addition to several thousand pillows, pajamas, dressings, surgical
instruments, and medicines that poured in upon the Bureau of Hospital
Administration at Paris at four o'clock on the afternoon of the
eighteenth of July. Osborne's department was a little short of motor
cars at that particular moment; the continued emergency at
Château-Thierry, with the multifold demands that it brought upon every
function of the Red Cross, had fairly exhausted his garages. There might
be cars in, in a few hours, said the transportation dispatchers. But
Burlingame's men took no such chances. They poured down from out of the
Regina headquarters and, taking their places in the middle of the Rue de
Rivoli, halted and commandeered taxicabs as they hove in sight.

With a half dozen of the Parisian "one lungers" screeching their very
souls out in the second speeds, they visited four of the Paris
warehouses in quick succession. A truck was brought up out of the
offing. By eight o'clock it was loaded, and by midnight it was at the
firing line and being unloaded of its precious supplies.

On another night during the same battle, a veteran army surgeon major
arrived in Paris at one o'clock in the morning. He found the medical
offices of the Red Cross open--there were no hours in those strenuous
days when one found them closed--and demanded supplies. The man was
faint from lack of sleep. He was put in bed for 120 minutes--not one
minute less, not one minute more. When he was awakened, his supplies
were at the door. They had been gathered in a motor truck from three
warehouses immediately roundabout. Later this army man returned to
Paris and reported that the work of our Red Cross that night had made it
possible for every man in his Division to have a chance for recovery.
Had it not been for the supplies, he added, sixty per cent of them might
have died.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it was in the quick establishment of hospitals that I think that
Burlingame's function of the Red Cross attained its most satisfactory as
well as its most dramatic results. Take Number 110 at Coincy, also no
great distance from Château-Thierry. It, too, sprang up as a direct
result of that famous battle. A radical change of location of our troops
in that territory and increasing activities in the neighborhood of
Fère-en-Tardenois made an American evacuation hospital at or near that
point an immediate necessity. Burlingame, in the same trusty motor which
carried him so many miles over the battle-scarred and shell-holed and
traffic-worn highroads of France, went out with Colonel Stark, of the
Regular Army force, to find a site for it. They decided on a little town
of Coincy, on the direct main line of evacuation from the American

The only things that stood in favor of Coincy were its location and the
fact that it had water. There was little else left there; not a château
or a ruined church or even a barn in which to locate, temporarily at
least, a hospital. Moreover, there was no time for picking or choosing
in that country through which the _boche_ in the beginnings of his final
retreat had just passed. In the center of some partly demolished
buildings, Stark and Burlingame found a pump, still in working order.
This, they decided, would make a splendid site for their new hospital.
The road which ran close by the ruins was the main road to the
front--not far away, as the constant booming of artillery attested--and
the fact that the railroad also was fairly near simplified the problem
of evacuations. These two factors, together with that of the water,
which was both pure and abundant--the French already had marked the
pump, "_Eau potable_"--decided the question.

So the two men staked a claim to the ruin. Before they returned to the
car Burlingame picked up a piece of board. He fished a bit of charred
wood out of the débris. It served as chalk. With it he began slowly
marking the board: "A. R. C. Hospital No. ----." He hesitated for just a
moment. What the deuce was the number of that last hospital? Well, no
matter. Number 110 would do. And Number 110 it became and so remained
even after the hospital was ancient--whole weeks ancient--and finally
had been moved to Villers-Daucourt.

"And so with a little burned wood, a piece of busted wall, and a cow
yard, the most advanced American hospital in the battle of the Vesle
started in," says Burlingame. "We took our burned-wood sign, fastened
over the pump--and, _voilà_, there was Red Cross Hospital Number 110.
And then we hustled to the first military telephone and began phoning
Paris and other Red Cross headquarters to hustle the stuff out to it.
'Send it up the road from Fère-en-Tardenois,' I told them, 'until you
come to the cow yard with the sign. Only look out you don't miss the
sign.'... And all the time it was raining like hell."

       *       *       *       *       *

One other of these Red Cross hospitals deserves especial mention in the
pages of this book--the tented institution upon the race course at
Auteuil just outside the fortifications of Paris. This institution,
situated within the confines of the lovely Bois-de-Boulogne, also was
established to meet the hospital necessities arising at the crux of the
German drive of 1918. It was first planned to take cases far advanced
toward recovery and so to relieve the badly overcrowded Red Cross
hospitals at Neuilly and other points in the metropolitan district of
Paris. And because of this type of cases, and the fact that summer was
close at hand, it was felt that tent structures properly builded and
floored could be used, and so much time saved.

That at least was the plan in May when the race course was commandeered
through the French authorities and work begun. In twenty-one days the
hospital was completed with six hundred beds, while draughtsmen were
preparing to increase its capacity to twenty-four hundred beds.

But as the _boche_ came closer and closer to Paris, that original plan
was quickly swept aside, and even the Red Cross made quick plans to
transfer its general headquarters to Tours or some other city well to
the south of France. Auteuil became, not a convalescent resort, but a
military emergency hospital of the first class--American Red Cross
Hospital Number Five, if you please. It soon reached great proportions.
In the five months that marked its career--from May 30 until the end of
October, 1918--it received 8,315 patients who had a total of 183,733
days of hospital treatment and 2,101 operations. Nearly five per cent of
all the surgical cases of our army in France passed through its portals.
And when under the sudden and almost unexpected pressure that was placed
upon it, it found itself seriously short of personnel--the men and women
already working it fatigued almost to the point of exhaustion--nurses
and other workers were drawn from the Children's Bureau, the
Tuberculosis Bureau, and other functions of the American Red Cross. They
were not registered nurses, to be sure, with neat little engraved
diplomas in their trunks, but they were both willing and efficient. And
that, at that time, was all that was necessary. I think that I have
already referred to our Red Cross in France as a mobile institution.

When the Auteuil plan was first brought to the attention of the officers
of the Medical Corps of our army they were inclined to scoff at it. To
them it seemed vast, visionary, impracticable. And as Burlingame went
steadily ahead with his plan--in those days, remember, it was to be
chiefly a rest camp--there were folk even in the ranks of the Red Cross
who criticized it. Then it was that Burlingame answered criticism, not
by drawing in on his plans, but by greatly extending them, by planning
to build a full surgical evacuation hospital out there on the race
course in the park. The criticisms grew, and finally Perkins, whom you
already know as the head of the Red Cross organization in France, called
the young doctor to him.

"They say that we already have two excellent Red Cross surgical
hospitals here in Paris and that they are quite enough," suggested

"We shall need more," insisted the hospital expert of his organization.

"The medical sharps in the army don't think that it is necessary," added
the Commissioner.

"Then they are wrong," said Burlingame. "We are going to need
Auteuil--and we are going to need it mighty badly."

"Then go to it, Major," said Perkins.

And Burlingame went to it, with the results that we have just seen,
while those very army men who came to scoff at Auteuil remained to
praise it--in unmeasured terms.

"It was a godsend," said Colonel Samuel Wadhams, medical officer on
General Pershing's staff. "I don't know what we would have done without

Done without it? I sometimes wonder what the American Army really would
have done without the hospitals of the American Red Cross. Although far
fewer in number than its own, they performed a valorous service indeed.
In the six great eventful months from the first of June to the first of
December, 1918, these Red Cross hospitals together furnished an excess
of 1,110,000 days of hospital care to our troops, which was
approximately the same as giving to every battle casualty in the A. E.
F. five days of care. It admitted to its hospitals a total of 89,539
sick and wounded men, and cared for them--not merely adequately, but
with a real degree of comfort--at a total cost of 9.57 francs (a
fraction less than two dollars) a day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Back of, and closely allied to, these distinctive Red Cross hospitals
were several groups of auxiliary institutions, which also had been
financed and equipped and were under the care of our American Red Cross.
The first of these groups was that of the military dispensaries, the
value of whose work can be roughly estimated by the fact that Number
Two, down at Brest, cared for 1,751 cases in the first month of its
existence. The others of the so-called permanent dispensaries were at
Bordeaux, Lorient, Nantes, Neuilly, Paris, and St. Nazaire, while
temporary ones were operated from time to time and as the emergency
demanded at Dijon, Senlis, Verberie, Compiègne, and La Rochelle.

Nine American Red Cross infirmaries were operated at base ports and
along the lines of communication for our doughboys. These served--and
served efficiently--men taken ill on trains, or casuals passing through.
During October, 1918, one of them treated 659 cases, while another in
three weeks had 850 cases, while with the increase of deportation of our
sick and wounded the work of our Red Cross infirmaries was greatly
increased. In November, 567 cases passed through the one at Brest and in
the following month 6,549 cases through the Bordeaux infirmary. In
addition to these two most important base ports, infirmaries were also
operated at Dijon, Bourges, Angers, Nantes, Tours, Limoges and St.

A still more interesting line of Red Cross work closely allied to its
hospitals was in the convalescent homes which it established at various
places in France, almost invariably at points which had especial charm
of scenery or climate to recommend them. There were eleven of these; at
St. Julien, at Biarritz, at Morgat, at St. Cloud, at Vetau, at Le
Croisic, at Rochefort-en-Terre, at Villegenic-le-Buisson, at
Hisseau-sur-Cosson, at Avignac, and at Antibes. In some cases these were
established in resort hotels, temporarily commandeered for the purpose
and in others in some of the loveliest of the châteaux of France. It so
happened, however, that our convalescent home at Antibes, at the very
point where the Alps come down to meet the sea, was in a hostelry--the
Hôtel du Cap d'Antibes. Through the courtesy of a young Red Cross woman
who was housed there for a time as a patient I am able to present a
picture of the life there--a picture which seems to have been fairly
typical of all those immensely valuable homes.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is a quiet place," she writes, "truly peace after war--and there the
tired nurses and workers find the rest they need. Those who want to be
really gay must go to Nice, Cannes, or Monte Carlo. In the morning
nearly every one goes out on the rocks with a rug and a book for a sun
bath. But if you had as fascinating a perch as my favorite one it would
have to be an absorbing tale that could hold your attention. For, from
the warm wave-worn rock that made a comfortable seat, I could look out
across a broad sweep of blue water to a ragged range of dark-blue
mountains against the paler blue sky. To the left is a little point of
rocks where some one had built a villa in the shape of a Moslem mosque,
which raised crescent-tipped domes and towers from among a grove of
dark-green firs and gray-green cactus. To the right, where the mountain
peninsula joins the mainland, the coast sweeps toward me in long, tawny
curves. Villas make tiny dots among the green of the hills and along the
shore, while at a distance, but I know that near by one finds in them a
variety of shades of cream and buff, yellow and pink, and above the last
bit of coast to the extreme right rise snow-capped Alps.

"If one is restless there are rocks to climb and fascinating paths to
explore. One leads over the rocks, around a wall, and up through a
jungle-like tangle of neglected gardens and walks into the estate
belonging to the King of the Belgians. The villa, begun before the war,
is unfinished now, but a truly adventurous spirit will go on past it and
be well rewarded. In what was once a formal garden, hyacinths and many
colored anemones are blooming in the long grass; roses nod gayly from
the walls, and almond blossoms lift their delicate pink flowers against
that glorious sky. In a grove of olive trees near by, narcissus and
daffodils are scattered in thick clumps here and there. There is a
fragrance in the air that is like spring at home.

"Noon at Cap d'Antibes brings every one together for lunch and after
that some go back to the rocks, others to their rooms, and still more
take the afternoon bus to Cannes. You can shop there and get your films
developed and your hair washed, but of course there are far greater
attractions. From three until four an American band plays in the
pavilion and all the world walks down the promenade to hear--'Smiles,'
'The Long, Long Trail,' and 'Over There.' Just such a band played just
such tunes last summer at lunch time on the White House lot in
Washington--only there the audience was composed of hundreds and
hundreds of women and girls--war workers--with a few men in uniform,
while at Cannes it is the other way about. The place simply swarms with
American boys on leave or convalescence, officers and men, and besides
their familiar khaki there is plenty of horizon blue and the
mustard-colored coats of Moroccans, with red fezzes atop. There are
French women, of course, and then a handful of Red Cross and 'Y' girls,
nurses, and foreign sisters.

"There are a variety of places to go for tea--from the conventional,
cosmopolitan rooms of the Carlton or Rumplemeyer's to the 'Y' canteen
where one can get good hot chocolate and bread and jam for forty-five
centimes. This 'Y,' by the way, is considered their star establishment.
There are reading and billiard rooms, movies and dancing; and on
Sundays, services are held where one used to play roulette.

"There is also a Y. M. C. A. club for officers, and here there is
dancing to be had as well as tea. But at five o'clock the girls for the
Cap must run, or they will miss the bus going back. No one wants to do
that, and miss, too, the pleasant ride along the coast with the sunset
glowing back of the Esperal Mountains and shimmering in a thousand
colors across the ripples of the quiet sea; especially when the
alternative to missing the bus is an hour's ride on a French 'tram.' So,
singing as a rule, the busload swings along the smooth white road with
twenty-five or thirty girls, as like as not, in the places where fifteen
are supposed to be.

"That same big bus is used several times a week to take parties for the
long ride along the Riviera, to Nice, Monte Carlo, and Menton--one of
the supremely beautiful drives of the world. There is an hour's stop in
Nice, another in Monte Carlo for lunch, and then, after a glimpse of the
Italian border, the party turns back. The Hotel Cap d'Antibes, with its
many lights, looks very pleasant after the long, cold ride--it is always
cold on the Riviera after the sun goes down--and dinner, always good,
tastes especially so to the hungry tourists.

"The Cap is too isolated to be gay in the evening; but, after all, most
of the women there have come to rest and recuperate, so they are glad of
a quiet game of bridge, a book before the open fire, or a short walk in
the magic of southern moonlight. The energetic younger ones usually pull
back the rugs and dance--a hen party, to be sure; fun just the same, if
one judges by the faces of the girls. There is generally singing, too.
One nurse while I was there had a very lovely voice (you kept thinking
how much pleasure she must have been able to give the men in her ward)
and after she had sung the verse of some popular song, every one joined
the chorus. And it was at one of these singsongs, in the big
white-paneled drawing-room, with the yellow light falling on many faces
about the piano, that I had a glimpse of a gray hospital ward and one of
those tragic commonplaces that make up the life of a nurse in times of

"The singer had been singing a favorite song of the British Tommies with
a strong cockney accent:

    "'Oi want go 'ome,
    Oi want to go 'ome,
    Now that Belgium is Belgium again,
    Now that France has got Alsace-Lorraine,
    Carry me over the sea,
    Where the Allymand cannot get me,
    Oh my, I'm too young to die,
    I want to go 'ome,'

when a girl near me, who had been rather silent, spoke for the first

"'That song reminds me of a boy I used to have in my ward. He had a
broken back and it was just a question of time, but he didn't know that.
He sang that song until I thought I couldn't stand it.'

"The singing was still to be heard as I slipped into my coat a few
minutes later and went out of doors. Down on the rocks the water slipped
against them softly, overhead were a million stars in the dark sky.

"And so, war--hideous and relentless--intrudes even on the peace of
beautiful places, as it always will for most of us as long as we live.
But even if the memories of what lay behind them came back to the nurses
who had their leave at Cap d'Antibes, the days there were mostly happy
ones. Nothing that the Red Cross has done has been more worth while than
this place that they have had for the nurses who needed rest and
recuperation. There were the creature comforts of hot water, good food,
and soft beds; there was sunshine after an eternity of rain; peace after



At no time was it either the object or the ambition of the American Red
Cross to build or equip or operate all the hospitals of the United
States Army in France. For a more or less privately organized
institution to have taken upon its shoulders, no matter how broad they
might be, the entire hospitalization of an army of more than 2,000,000
men would have been suicidal. So our Red Cross in its wisdom did not
even make the attempt; it was quite content to build and equip hospitals
in the early days before the American Expeditionary Forces had completed
their organization and so were themselves unable to work out their
hospital problem as they were forced to do at a later time. The Red
Cross did more; it conducted hospitals during the entire period of
war--as you have just seen--and attempted to make these models,
experiment stations, if you please, from which the medical experts of
the army might derive inspiration and real assistance. But at no time
did it seek to usurp any of the functions of the Surgeon-General's
office of the army--on the contrary.

"When the army was ready to tackle the hospital problem in fine theory
we should have gotten out," Colonel Burlingame told me; "but we did not.
We were following out the first clause of our creed, which was to meet
emergency whenever or wherever it arose and no matter at what cost. And
at all times during the progress of the war the emergency compelled the
Red Cross to at least maintain its hospitals. And so it did, with a
total capacity up to the time of the signing of the armistice of some
14,000 beds. After that we dropped off pretty rapidly. Our pay-roll
lists of personnel show that. On November 11, 1918, these contained the
names of 1,771 men and women; by the first of the following March this
total had dropped to a mere 270."

       *       *       *       *       *

So it was that upon the heels of the first established Red Cross
hospitals in France there came the huge hospitals of the United States
Army in great size and profusion. Sometimes these were gathered in
groups--as at Savenay or Allerey or Dijon or around about Brest or
Bordeaux--and at other times they stood alone and at comparatively
isolated points. Even these last were sizable institutions, huge even
according to the hospital standards of our largest metropolitan cities
in America; while, when you came to a point like Savenay--halfway
between Nantes and St. Nazaire--you beheld a group of seven individual
hospitals which, shortly after Armistice Day, attained a total capacity
of 11,000 beds and were planned, in fact, for some 9,000 more, with a
further capacity of another 10,000 feasible and remotely planned. Into
this great group of institutions there came between August, 1917, and
May, 1919, some 85,000 wounded American boys. Its maximum staff
consisted of 500 officers, 500 nurses, and a general staff of 4,000
enlisted men.

When I visited the place--at the end of April, 1919--it still had some
6,500 patients, the most of whom were well out of danger and were
enjoying the warm sunshine of a rarely perfect day in France. I found
the headquarters staff ensconced in a group of permanent stone buildings
which, in the days before the war, were part of a normal school standing
alongside the highroad to Nantes. This, itself, formed a hospital for
general cases. Some of those that were grouped with it in the open
fields around about specialized in serious bed surgical cases, in
contagious diseases, in tuberculosis, in mental cases. This last had
handled 7,500 cases in the progress of the war.

In each of these hospitals--as in each and every one of the United
States Army hospitals in France and the occupied areas of Germany--the
Red Cross functioned. At Savenay it had not only erected recreation huts
for the men of each of the individual hospitals, but a huge auditorium
or amusement hall, permanently fabricated of brick and steel and glass,
equipped with a complete theater stage, and capable of seating between
1,500 and 2,000 doughboys and their officers. This super-playhouse was
in use every night of the week--for cinema, for drama, sung or spoken,
for dances, and, from time to time, for meetings and for religious

       *       *       *       *       *

To this entertainment phase of the American Red Cross in the hospitals
we shall presently return. For the moment I shall ask you to consider
the part it played in the essential job of supplying hospital supplies.
It was not, of course, either practicable or possible for our Red Cross
to supply all of these--or even any tremendously large part of them. But
it could--and did--supply goodly quantities of all of them when they
were most needed, and so worth ten times their value and quantity at any
other time.

Time and time again it furnished materials, both for their regular and
for their emergency necessities. Sometimes the army itself did not
function properly--there were instances of red tape disgraceful and
some, too, of red tape inevitable. And yet there were other times when
all the tape cutters in the world could not have saved the situation,
but the American Red Cross, with its emergency warehouses and its
well-organized transportation system all the way across the face of
France, did save it. A truckload, two, three; perhaps even four or five
truckloads of beds or bedding--perhaps even a small camionette filled to
the brim with dressings and drugs or surgical instruments could, and
did, save precious lives--by the dozens and by the hundreds. Do you
remember, in the preceding chapter, the several instances where our Red
Cross played its part--and no small part at that--in the winning of the
big fight at Château-Thierry? Those were not unusual instances; they
were fairly typical.

There came one day when the commanding officers of the U. S. A. hospital
center at Allerey--one of the largest in all France--sent for Captain
James C. Ramage, the American Red Cross representative in the district.
He told the Red Cross man that a tremendous convoy of wounded soldiers
from the Soissons-Rheims district was expected within a few days and
asked his help in securing a real bulk of medical supplies. Those were
the days when the Surgeon General's department of the army was not
always able to furnish even drugs and dressings when they were most

Ramage lost no time in discussing the thing. He said that he would do
his best and caught the first train into Paris; spent several days there
in getting together the necessary supplies, personally supervised the
loading of them into a freight car, and then performed the unheard-of
feat of inducing the French railway authorities to attach the freight
car to a fast passenger train bound down to Dijon. Camions were rushed
from Allerey to Dijon, and two days later the necessary supplies were
all at the hospital center--and well in advance of the coming of the
wounded soldiers. On another night in that same summer of 1918, some
2,250 wounded Americans poured into that selfsame army hospital center
of Allerey. The hospital warehouses were exhausted. The Red Cross's were
not; do you remember what we said at the beginning--that the fullness of
its job lay in its being forever ready to meet any emergency which might

It was being ready that made it able that hot August night to turn into
the crowded hospital in a space of time to be measured in minutes rather
than in hours, 10,000 blankets, 10,000 sheets, 8,000 towels, 8,000 pairs
of pajamas, 2,000 yards of Dakin tubing, 1,000 operating gowns, 1,000
helmets, and two whole carloads of surgical dressings.

Emergency work! How it always does count!

The securing of these supplies in the beginning was, of itself, a master
problem. It involved not alone purchase but manufacturing--manufacturing
upon a really enormous scale. We saw at the beginnings of the Red Cross
work in France the various workrooms in Paris which devoted themselves
to the making of dressings--of one sort or another and in tremendous
quantities. Yet the actual beginnings of this work antedated even the
establishment of the Paris workrooms; immediately on the outbreak of the
European War, a special department was established at the National
Headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington for giving advice
concerning hospital garments and supplies for European relief and
furnishing patterns and samples for the same. A New York City committee,
organized for the same purpose by Mrs. Mary Hatch Willard, began the
sending of old linens to French hospitals. This work grew into a unit
known as the Surgical Dressings Committee of the United States, for the
making of dressings by volunteers in this country, and finally led to
the establishment of the first of the Paris workrooms. By the time that
Pershing had first arrived in France this work in America had grown to a
point where it employed more than two thousand committees and
subcommittees. Its output increased so rapidly that in the week ending
August 27, 1917, ninety-two hospitals were supplied and 155,261
dressings were made in the Paris workroom alone. And that, of course,
was long before there were any American wounded. In the summer of 1917
the National Surgical Dressings Committee entered into coöperation with
the American Red Cross and from that date its efficient distribution
service in France became the Surgical Dressings Service Department of
the American Red Cross.

Then came the imminent necessity of standardizing these surgical
dressings--which was accomplished by a special board which Pershing
appointed at the end of August, 1917. Its standards were followed, but
its energies only dimmed at the time when it was actually seen that
they were quite exceeding the necessities of the situation. And the
volume of those selfsame energies is perhaps the better understood when
it is realized that from October, 1917, to January 22, 1919, 147,230,777
cases of surgical dressings alone, both donated and manufactured, were
received at the Red Cross warehouses in Paris.

Splints, of which an immense number were necessary even for the very
short period in which we were actually engaged in the conduct of the
war, formed a real Red Cross specialty. Our army hospitals were entirely
dependent upon the American Red Cross for these necessities--the total
orders for which in July and August of 1918, totaled some 15,000 to
20,000 weekly. For that entire year the output was 94,583 splints, the
factories often working from eighteen to twenty hours a day to keep pace
with the requisitions upon them. Our Red Cross also supplied all the
nitrous oxide used in American hospitals of every type in France. The
use of this ultra-modern anæsthetic, to the increasing exclusion of
ether and of chloroform, forms one of the fascinating chapters of the
medical conduct of the war. Although it had been employed as an
anæsthetic in the United States for a number of years before the
beginning of the war, its first use in Europe was when Colonel George W.
Crile--the distinguished surgeon from Cleveland, Ohio--introduced it
into operations in the then American Ambulance Hospital at
Neuilly--afterward the American Red Cross Military Hospital Number One.
That was in 1915. Nitrous oxide as an anæsthetic immediately attracted
the attention of a number of eminent British surgeons.

"It is good," said Colonel Crile, tersely.

And so it is--good. It is so good that Colonel Alexander Lambert, at
that time chief surgeon of our American Red Cross, immediately made it
the standard anæsthetic of its medical service. For, like so many other
American surgeons, he quickly concurred in the opinion that nitrous
acid, used in combination with oxygen, three parts to one, is the least
dangerous as well as the best adapted for use when operating upon cases
of chest surgery, abdomen wounds, or of shock. Under this anæsthetic the
percentage of recovery is seventy-two per cent, as compared with fifty
per cent for either chloroform or ether. Moreover, it has none of the
disagreeable after effects which come almost invariably with the use of
chloroform or ether. To quote Colonel Lambert:

"The use of nitrous-oxide anæsthetic to the exclusion of ether or
chloroform in case of at least the seriously wounded seems to me not
only advisable but beyond the advisability of discussion."

Its official use, therefore, was predicated. It was first supplied to
the casualty-clearing stations; American and British coöperating for the
sake of an exchange of ideas as to its best use. Our Red Cross supplied
an apparatus of special design that had gradually been evolved from
those already devised. This allowed the separate administration of the
nitrous oxide, of oxygen, or of ether--which at times was used in small
quantities--or of the three in various combinations. And all our
American nurses were trained as anæsthetists in its use.

       *       *       *       *       *

The making of the nitrous-oxide gas itself was one of many similar tasks
assigned to the Manufacturing Department of our Red Cross, of which
Major Arthur W. Kelly was department chief. He ordered a huge gas-making
plant from America which, after some considerable delay, finally was set
up at Montreau, fifty miles distant from Paris. In the meantime the Red
Cross had discovered a man in the French Army who had had some
experience in the making of nitrous oxide. He was released from active
army service and at once started to work making an emergency supply, the
limited quantities carried to France by Colonel Crile having become
completely exhausted. This small plant had a daily capacity of about
4,000 gallons. But when the bigger machinery from America had finally
been set up--in the midsummer of 1918--this output was increased to
75,000 gallons a day. This could easily have been doubled, had it not
been for a single limiting factor--the extreme difficulty of securing
3,280 gallon cans in which the gas was transported. Finally the Red
Cross secured some hydrogen tanks that had been captured from the
Germans in their first July defeats. It was then and not until then that
the nitrous-oxide plant began running at anything like its real
capacity. And with the definite result that from September, 1917, to
October 23, 1918, our Red Cross was able to supply our army with 699,420
gallons of this precious anæsthetic, its own hospitals with 405,620
gallons, and some miscellaneous institutions with an additional 251,110
gallons, while it saw Great Britain formally acknowledge nitrous oxide
as an anæsthetic _par excellence_ and even conservative France making
the first steps toward its adoption.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few of the medical and surgical requisitions of a typical American
Army Division--the Second--upon our Red Cross are before me as I write.
They are indicative of the overwhelming demands that were made upon it,
not only from every corner of the front, but from every corner of France
that was occupied by our fighting men--and what corner was not?

It was at the request of the chief surgeon of this Division that one of
its field hospitals--originally supplied direct from the army's own
sources of supply--was amplified by the American Red Cross, by the use
of Bessoneau tents and other equipment so as to become practically a
mobile unit, capable of handling far heavier cases. The supplying of the
equipment shown by these requisitions began while the division was still
in the vicinity of Montdidier and continued until after it had moved to
Meaux and was in active preparation for its great rôle at
Château-Thierry. In addition to the Bessoneau tents, the following were
the requisitions which were delivered to this single formation while it
was under heavy pressure:

    _June 1_: 1 tortoise tent and 100 collapsible cots.

    _June 3_: 12 antitoxin syringes for anti-tetanus serum, 200
    packages of absorbent cotton, 30 feet of glass tubing, and 25
    operating gowns and caps.

    _June 4_: 250 single blankets, 100 litters, 5,000 anti-tetanus
    serum, 2 autoclaves, 4 thermometers for autoclaves, 50 wash
    cloths, 1,000 pairs of socks, 50 towels, and 200 comfort kits.

    _June 6_: 50 clinical thermometers, 2,000 temperature charts, 1
    gallon of green soap, 36 bottles of ammonia, 5,000 Greeley
    units, 20 syringes, 15 liters of Lysol, 20 chart holders, 100
    rubber sheets, 2 small instrument sterilizers, 500 nightshirts,
    500 blankets, 1,000 sheets, 500 forks and spoons, 100 bedside
    tables, 100 folding chairs, 50 hot-water bottles, 36 maps, 50
    hand basins, 20 bolts of gauze, 10 bolts of muslin, 100 beds,
    and 100 mattresses.

    _June 7_: 200 litters, 250 blankets, 100 rolls of cotton, 200
    rolls of gauze, 144 rubber gloves, 100 operating gowns and caps,
    96 tubes of catgut, 500 Carrel pads, 100 gowns for nurses, 20
    sterile water containers, 5,000 folded gauze compresses, and
    5,000 small sponges.

I rather feel that this record of a single week of the demands of one
Division upon our Red Cross will show quite enough the burden which it
was forced to bear; and bore most joyously as a part of the opportunity
for service which was given unto it in France. In a single day and night
during that same great offensive of 1918, 128 different
requisitions--each comprising from one to fifty items--were started out
on the road from Paris; while on the twentieth of August of that same
summer--the day which marked the beginning of the St. Mihiel
drive--120,000 front-line emergency parcels and more than fifteen
carloads of surgical dressings were shipped to the scene of activity.
From the Paris headquarters of the Red Cross alone, supplies were
shipped that summer to sixty-six base hospitals, two naval-base
hospitals, fifty-four camp hospitals, twenty-one convalescent
hospitals, twenty army divisions, seven evacuation hospitals, nine field
hospitals, eight hospital centers, nine mobile hospitals, six medical
supply depots, and the central medical department laboratory--all of the
United States Army in France. This great record does not, of course,
include the supplies sent to the Red Cross's own hospitals or those sent
to the A. E. F. hospitals from the nine zone headquarters of the
American Red Cross; nor even emergency supplies sent to eighteen
detached American Army units, far away from their bases of supplies. In
a single month and from one warehouse, our Red Cross made the following
shipments to formations operated entirely by our army: 77,101 surgical
instruments, 2,820 beds and cots, 24,733,126 surgical dressings, and
15,300 pounds of drugs.

It also supplied specialties, and all for the comfort of our wounded
boys over there. Take ice--that simple product of our modern
civilization--so indispensable to the American. It is second nature with
us to-day and yet little used by the French. Ice is as much an essential
to our up-to-date hospitals as drugs or nurses or the beds themselves.
Properly packed, it cools the fever and so greatly eases the sufferings
of wounded men as they toss upon their cots. Its beverage use is too
universal to even need comment here.

"My, that's good!" more than one sick boy murmured, as the nurse held a
spoonful of it to his hot lips. "It's just like home."

Yet, while our government planned ice-making machinery for each of its
hospitals, large or small, they were not always ready as quickly as the
rest of the plant. There again our Red Cross stepped into the breach,
supplying small portable ice-making plants not only to the field
hospitals for which they were originally designed, but even for larger
installations. Each of these portable plants consisted of a gasoline
engine of fifteen horse power, water-cooled and attached to a
compressor, which in turn was connected to the water piping in the
brine tanks. The capacity of each of these was about two tons and a half
each twenty-four hours. And each was accompanied by two Ford
camionettes--builded with special ice boxes--to carry its product to the
wards roundabout.

Second only to ice in importance as a hospital auxiliary was light. In
the early years of the war, the surgeons of the allied nations worked
under great difficulties at night and undoubtedly many lives were
sacrificed because of the lack of proper lighting facilities. I have
heard of the doctors ripping off a wounded man's clothing by the light
of one star shell and waiting for the next to give them enough
brilliancy to examine his injuries.

For at least ten or a dozen years past our larger American circuses have
used portable electric-lighting plants on their various itinerant trips
across the land--with a fair degree of success. Those circuses gave our
Red Cross in France an inspiration. Lieutenant Harry C. Hand, a director
in its Central Department of Requirements, in studying the markets for
the proper sort of equipment, used them as models and so evolved, as a
plant most practical for Red Cross needs, a three-and-a-half kilowatt
outfit consisting of a gasoline engine, an electric generator, and a
switchboard. This outfit, mounted upon a stout camion, would light 135
incandescent lamps of twenty-five watts each. On its travels it carried
in its lockers the lamps, extension cords, sockets, and the like to make
them available for almost instant service. And the Red Cross in the
heart of the war emergency had five of these outfits at its service in

       *       *       *       *       *

One other allied factor in this hospital supply service deserves
attention before we finally turn away from it. I have referred from time
to time to the vast quantities of drugs which our Red Cross distributed
to both its own and other hospital centers. It was obvious that this
distribution had to be centralized, and because of the delicate and
extremely valuable nature of this particular form of supplies be kept
quite separate and distinct from the others. So "The Red Cross
Pharmacy," as it was generally called, came into existence, at a former
apartment building at No. 10 Rue de Tilsitt, Paris, and quickly came to
such importance that it was made the headquarters of the Section of
Hospital Supplies, which in turn was a division of the larger Bureau of
Hospital Administration.

Throughout all of the hard months of the war this section boasted that
each night found the requisitions for that day filled. There were no
left-overs; not even when a single day's work meant fifty-six huge
orders entirely completed, and little rest for a staff which averaged
forty-one men and women.

The pharmacy was well systematized. In its basement were the receiving,
the packing, and the shipping departments, while upon its broad main
floor the drugs and antiseptics were actually stored, the second floor
being given to dental supplies, surgical instruments, rubber goods,
sutures, serums, laboratory equipment, and the like. Each of these
various departments was in charge of a specialist, a man of many years'
experience in the line which he headed.

By June, 1918, the pharmacy in the Rue de Tilsitt had become of such
importance that it was re-created into a Section of Supplies, with Major
George L. Burroughs, of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston,
as its sectional chief. Within a month he had found the demands upon his
department so much increased that he was forced in turn to increase its
facilities--by the addition of two warehouses. In another six weeks a
new burden was placed upon his shoulders--the distribution of all
alcohol, ether, oxygen, and nitrous acid issued by our Red Cross, which
meant, of course, more space needed--so the unused powder magazine at
Fort D'Ivry and the riding academy at No. 12 Rue Duphot--both loaned by
the French Government authorities--were added to the quarters of the

Some idea of the amount of work undertaken and accomplished by this Red
Cross pharmacy may be gained when it is understood that in the six
months ending January, 1919, 75,016 pounds of drugs were issued from it.
There were in that time 3,954,178 tablets, 21,566 phials of serum, 271
surgical units, 15,108 pairs of rubber gloves, and 22,059 feet of
adhesive plaster, in addition to many hundreds of packets of other drug

       *       *       *       *       *

Seemingly we have drifted away from our American boys, sick or wounded
and in hospitals. In reality, of course, we have not. Every one of these
provisions, large or small, was aimed directly at their comfort, while
each deserved to be rated as a necessity rather than comfort--comfort,
at least, as the average luxury-loving American knows it. It was comfort
rather than luxury that I found our boys enjoying there at
Savenay--long, comfortable huts, builded hurriedly but furnished with
great care, great taste, and great attractiveness. Savenay, itself, was
a good deal of a mud-hole, a fearfully wretched place underfoot. The Red
Cross huts shone brilliantly in contrast. Here, as in the canteens all
over France, the boys might congregate--practically at all hours--and
amuse themselves as their fancies dictated; or, if fancy grew a bit
bored, it was part of the job of the directress--one of whose essential
qualifications was resourcefulness and another versatility--to find some
new form of amusement. It was not enough to hand out the cigarettes--one
or two packs a week--or the pipes and the playing cards and the tobacco,
pretty much as requested--there had to be shows. The American passion
for play-acting is something to be reckoned with.

Perhaps you do not quickly understand how versatile those very shows
might readily become. Let me quote from _Toot Sweet_--the little
fortnightly newspaper which our American Red Cross printed for the boys
convalescing there at Savenay. That is, the Red Cross furnished the
printing press, the type, and the rest of the paraphernalia for the
making of the publication; the boys, themselves, supplied the brains
that made it so very readable at all times.

An atelier workshop of the A. R. C. in the Rue St. Didier, Paris, daily
turned out surgical dressings by the mile]

"'Stunt Night,' advertised in Base 69 Hut for March 13, brought a lot of
inquiries," says _Toot Sweet_, in its issue dated April 1, 1919.
"'Whadaye mean--stunts?' Probably the announcement of pies and doughnuts
for prizes was responsible for the crowd that appeared that evening when
a large part of the floor space was cleared and a couple of Red Cross
hut workers started the stunts. The first stunt--with a large slice of
apple pie as prizes--was to sit upon a piece of iron pipe, diameter six
inches, place the heel of one shoe on the toe of another, and while thus
insecurely balanced, light in one hand from a lighted candle in the
other a cigarette. Shrieks and howls from the delighted mob who began
betting on results encouraged a number of aspirants and the pie was
finally won. Stunt after stunt followed in quick succession, all sorts
of queer and absurd contortions varying from picking up folded newspaper
from the floor with your teeth while holding one foot in the air with
one hand to a 'puttee race,' when the contestants raced from one end of
the hall, took off their puttees, and then put them on again, then raced
back, with various obstacles in the way. Finally the boys began
challenging each other to their favorite stunts, so that Private
California might have been showing Private North Carolina a pet trick,
while Sergeant Oklahoma and Corporal Louisiana gravely discussed the
merits of their ideas on stunts. The winning team was presented with a
large, juicy apple pie, vamped from the mess sergeant by a Red Cross

"'Amateur night' was announced for the same hut two nights later by a
stunning poster done in colors by one of the 309th Engineers. A box of
homemade fudge was the prize for the best act. Seven of the best
vaudeville acts ever seen in the huts appeared. The sergeant major of
Base Hospital Number 69 was the master of ceremonies. A 'dummy' act, a
'wop mechanic' in song and monologue, a ballad singer, a 'song and
minstrel man,' a mandolin and guitar player, who gave remarkable
imitations of Hawaiian instruments, a 'tramp monologuist,' and a clog
dancer composed the bill. Harry Henly, the 'song and minstrel man,' won
the box of fudge which was displayed in all its glory and pink ribbons
during the contest."

Sometimes there was not quite so much fun in the situation. The girls
who ran the Red Cross hut in the tuberculosis hospital of the Savenay
group, almost directly across the highroad from Number 69, had a far
weightier problem upon their shoulders. To amuse there, was a vastly
more difficult task. For they knew--as most of its patients knew--that
the man who entered the portals of that particular hospital was
foredoomed. If he had a fighting chance of conquering the "T. B." he was
packed into the hospital ward of a transport and rushed home. If he did
not have that fighting chance--well, why waste precious transport space?
To Savenay with him. And to Savenay he went to spend his days--and end
them--in a cheery, camplike place where there were croquet and less
strenuous games and broad piazzas that looked down across the valley
toward the embouchure of the Loire, while Red Cross girls came and went
and did their womanly best to comfort and amuse a fellow--and make him
forget; forget the back door of the little hospital where, night after
night, four or five fellows went out--in pine boxes, never to return,
and the rows of wooden crosses down in the American cemetery at the foot
of the hill steadily grew.

       *       *       *       *       *

Turn back with me, if you will, inland from Savenay to the curved
streets of Vichy--little Vichy situated in the very foothills of the
high Alps. It is January now, not April. We have turned backward in full
earnest, and are breathing the air of those hard weeks and months that
followed immediately upon the signing of the armistice.

Vichy, in its very compactness, with the flat yellows of its curious old
buildings and its equally curious modern hotels, with the
fifteenth-century tower in the background and the quiet River Allier
slipping by, has the fascinating unreality of a stage setting--one of
those marvelous effects with which the genius of a Belasco or a Joseph
Urban from time to time delights in dazzling us. In spring or in summer
we might find it prepared for carnival--with green-painted chairs and
tables underneath the still greener foliage of its small park. But this
is January and the park is deeply blanketed in snow. In such a serene
midwinter setting it seems far more ready for silent drama than for the
blare of carnival--the figures in olive drab are indeed quite the
figures of pantomime--brown against the whiteness of the snow. The only
touches of color in the picture--tiny splotches of green or blue or
purple or yellow--are supplied by the tiny cloth bags that the men carry
with them. They are preparing to entrain--the first step of many on the
way back to the homeland--and the vari-colored bags, each marked with a
crimson cross, are the comfort kits they genuinely cherish.

Before war was come upon France, Vichy was a resort to be reckoned with
in the comings and goings of her elect. It was a watering place--and
much more besides. There men and women ate as well as drank, bands
played, beauties intrigued, wheels, flat-set, spun merrily, and entire
fortunes were flicked away at the gaming tables; but war changed these
things--as many, many others. It took the viciousness out of Vichy and
brought back to it all of the gentleness which it must have possessed in
the beginning. The small city, where formerly the ill and the bored made
pilgrimages in search of health (health bubbling up to the lips in the
faint concealments of a glass of sparkling water), became a city of
wounded; all too often a city of death.

The French Army moved in; and, commandeering hotel after hotel,
transformed them into its hospitals. On its heels came the American
Army; it alone took more than eighty hotels for its own hospital
purposes. That was the signal that our Red Cross would be needed, and
without further urge it moved in. Wherefore the comfort bags in the
hands of the doughboys as they moved across the park toward their
waiting trains.

If memories were half as tangible things as war "souvenirs," those tiny
bags of the crimson cross would have held other things than soap and
razor blades and tooth paste and playing cards and tobacco and the like.
They would have held definite memories of Vichy and all that it had
meant to the wounded men of our army. Some of them would have carried
the pictures of lights shining out through opened doors into the
darkness of the night and litters coming in through those opened
doors--litters bearing American men, when they were not American
boys--men clad only in hospital robes, but whose first bandages were
drenched with blood and spattered with the mud of No Man's Land. There
would have been a multiplicity of pictures of this sort, for Vichy in
the days of actual fighting never was an idle place. There were times
there when, within a cycle of twenty-four hours, as many as six thousand
men would be sent away from it--to make room for an equal number of
incoming freshly wounded soldiers. In the early days of November that
many came to it direct from the dressing stations, and the problem of
our Red Cross there became a little bit more complex.

There might also have been pictures in those selfsame comfort bags of
the Red Cross girls on the stone platforms of the railroad
station--young women who in warm days served iced lemonade there and in
cold, hot chocolate, or, when it was requested, hot lemonade; for the
fact remains that lemonade was the only food or drink that many of the
gassed cases could endure. And it was ready for them there--at all hours
of the day or night, and at all days; even though to make that possible
the girl workers would sometimes stay on duty for thirty-six hours at a
stretch: without having the opportunity of divesting themselves of their
clothing and so gaining a little real rest.

A final picture of Vichy might have well been a mental photograph of the
"hut." This formerly had been the Elysée Palace--a gaming and amusement
center of none too savory a reputation; yet with its central location on
the main street, its ample lounging space, and its small theater,
self-contained, it was ideal for the purposes of our Red Cross and so
became a living heart of Vichy. It was the canteen or club in which some
five thousand doughboys were wont to congregate each day--to write
letters home, to play games, or the tireless piano, to read the
newspapers or the magazines, to visit, to gossip--in every way possible
to shorten days that passed none too quickly for any of them.

During the first months of its organization this Red Cross superhut did
not include the entire "Palace." Gradually it spread, however, until the
entire two floors of the place were busy with American Red Cross
activities. And the doughboy passing from the comfortable clubrooms on
the main floor--wherein, for the comfort of the convalescents, a
full-fledged army commissary had been set up--upstairs found a
"first-aid" room of a new sort. It was, in fact, an operating room,
where expert surgery might be applied to torn and ripped and otherwise
wounded uniforms. And the head surgeon was a woman--a smart, black-eyed
French seamstress who could perform wonders not alone with torn
buttonholes but who also possessed a facility with a hot sadiron that
made her tremendously popular upon the eve of certain festal occasions.

       *       *       *       *       *

"How would a dish of Yankee ice cream taste to-day? You know, the same
sort that Blink & Smith serve down there in the Universal, at the corner
of Main and First streets?"

Imagine something like that coming out of the blue, and to a boy who has
been "fed up" on army cookery and who even has lost his taste for the
delicacy of French cookery. You may take it direct from me that the hut
there at Vichy held a kitchen and that it was a good kitchen. Can you
imagine any first-rate American club that ever would fail in such an
essential? And from that modest cuisine there in the pulsing heart of
the bubbly town came truly vast quantities of the trivial foodstuffs
that are forever dear to the stomach of the doughboy. Ice cream--of
course--and small meat pies, each in its own little coat of oiled
paper--and creamy custards--and, of course, once again--coffee and all
manner of sandwiches, imaginable and unimaginable. And, because there
were many of the doughboys who could not possibly make their way to the
hut, even on crutches or in wheel chairs, a camionette drove away from
its kitchen each day with seventeen gallons of ice cream tucked in
it--all for the benefit of bedridden American soldier boys.

Remember, if you will, that this once disreputable Elysée Palace--in the
glory of war aid becoming not only reputable but almost sanctified--held
a theater; small, but completely equipped. Our Red Cross workers did not
lose sight of that when they chose the place as a headquarters for their
endeavors. Four days a week this became a moving-picture house--just
like the Bijou or the Orpheum back home. On Wednesday French
wounded--for whom comfort provisions were never too ample--were guests
there of the American Red Cross, and each _poilu_ carried away a little
gift of American cigarettes--to any Frenchman the very greatest of all
treasures. Saturdays were set aside for "competitive vaudeville" or an
"amateur night"--very much as we saw it at Savenay. Gradually a stock
company--capable at least of one-act plays--was evolved from the
dramatic material immediately at hand--soldiers and Red Cross and
hospital men and women workers--with the result that by Thanksgiving
Day, 1918, a very creditable production entitled "The Battle of Vichy"
was produced there in the hut, after which the company moved on toward
the conquest of the neighboring "metropolitan" towns of Moulins and

Some one is going to come along some day and write the analysis of the
innate desire of the American to dabble with play-acting. The plethora
of war-time musical shows that became epidemic among the divisions of
the A. E. F. and spread not merely to Paris--where one of these
entertainments followed upon the heels of another--but eventually to New
York and other cities of the country, affords interesting possibilities
for the psychologist. It was a huge by-product of the war and one not
entirely expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the resources of the amateur Thespians of Vichy had become
well-nigh exhausted, a New York professional actress--Miss Ida
Phinney--who not only had real dramatic ability but considerable
experience in staging and producing, was enlisted in the Red Cross
service there. With her aid, the attractive little cinema theater--with
its blue upholstery, its tiny boxes, and its complete and up-to-date
stage equipment, even to the scenery--became a full-fledged playhouse.
Stage hands and property men were assigned from the army, and Vichy
began seriously to stage, costume, and produce and criticize plays.
Soldiers with a knack for design took keen delight in advising as to
"creations" for the wardrobes of the cast and themselves watched the
garments grow into reality from inexpensive stuffs in the sewing room. A
clever artist wrought a full set of stage jewelry--even to the heavy
bracelets and the inevitable snake rings of the Oriental dancers--from
stray scraps of shells and other metals that came to his hungry fingers,
while the Red Cross sent a full complement of musical instruments down
from Paris. And so the Vichy A. E. F.-A. R. C. Playhouse came into the
fullness of its existence--and night after night hung out the S. R. O.

After all, what _is_ the doughboy's idea of a good time? That is the
very question our Red Cross asked itself--again and again. And because
the correct answer could not be evolved in a moment, established not
only after it had arrived in France a Bureau of Recreation and Welfare
whose real job was, after plenty of practical experimentation, to
establish the correct solution of the problem. For a long time this
Bureau consisted of a small desk at the Paris headquarters, a Ford
camionette, and Major Harold Ober. The camionette and Ober went from
village to village along the lines from Bar-le-Duc to Gondrecourt with
books, magazines, tobacco, writing material, and a small moving-picture
show. These efforts many times furnished the only amusement to our early
troops, billeted in quiet villages, where the quaintness of French
pastoral life soon lost its novelty.

From that small beginning, Ober's work grew steadily. And because the
Red Cross specialized more and more in that phase of army life which was
its original purpose--hospitalization--Ober's task became in turn more
and more devoted to the hospital centers, large and small--until the
time came in practically every hospital ward in France--where the men
were not so desperately ill as to make even music an irritant--that the
"rag," and "jazz," or the latest musical comedy hit direct from Broadway
were constant and welcome visitors to long rows of bedridden boys. In
most cases these were phonographs, and because whenever I wish to be
really convincing in the pages of this book, I fall back upon figures,
permit me to mention that 1,243 phonographs, calling for 300,000 needles
and 29,000 records, helped relieve the tedium of the American
convalescents in the hospitals of France.

And, while we are still in figures, remember that there were
times--unbelievable as it may seem to some folk who were frequent
visitors to our hospital wards over there--that the doughboy tired of
music, canned or fresh, and turned gratefully to the printed page. To
anticipate his needs in that regard, American residents in Paris and in
London gave generously of their private libraries--a nucleus which soon
was greatly increased by purchase. The books were sent around in
portable boxes, a service which steadily grew until a library of from
1,000 to 10,000 books was maintained by the American Red Cross in each
hospital--a total of some 100,000 all told, and of which a goodly
proportion were histories, French grammars, dictionaries and technical

The demand for periodical literature was tremendous. In the months of
December, 1918, alone, our Red Cross distributed nearly four million
magazines and newspapers among our doughboys. Prominent among these last
was the _Stars and Stripes_, the clever and ingenious publication of the
enlisted men themselves. A special "gift edition" of this remarkable
weekly was obtained from the publishers for distribution in hospitals
alone, and this ran into the hundreds of thousands each month--a high
limitation which was reached only when the stock of print paper began to
run low. The demand upon writing paper was hardly less than that upon
print. The doughboy was a regular and prolific correspondent, and before
January, 1919, our Red Cross had furnished him with seven million
illustrated post cards, seven and a half million envelopes, and fourteen
million sheets of writing paper.

       *       *       *       *       *

But his eternal joy was in "shows." These might be two come-uppish lads,
with gloves, going it in a roped arena, a flickering lantern displaying
the well-known and untiring antics of Mr. Charles Chaplin or Mr. Douglas
Fairbanks, the exquisite artistes of one of the opera houses in Paris in
a composition that brought unforgetable joy to the ears and memories of
the many, many lovers of music in our khaki--or a homemade production of
the doughboy himself. Of these the "movie" was, of course, the simplest
to handle, and therefore by far the most universal. It began its A. E.
F. career in France as a true "barnstormer." As early as July, 1917, a
Red Cross man with a French motion-picture operator as an assistant had
hied himself out from Paris, riding in one of the universal Ford
camionettes, upon which had been mounted a generator and a projector.
Upon arriving at an army camp, the show would be "put on"--with little
fuss or delay. The smooth, whitewashed side of a stone building would
make a bully screen and there was never even doubts of an audience or of
its enthusiasms. For from wonderments at this additional strange
contraption from the _Etats Unis_, the peasants and the _poilus_, who
were its very first admirers, grew rapidly into Mary Pickford and
Charlie Chaplin and Billie Burke fans. This taste followed closely that
all-conquering admiration for our chewing gum which overcame the French
and left them quite helpless.

Eventually this "movie" institution of the Red Cross overseas grew to
sizable proportions, under the direction of Lawrence Arnold, of New
York. At least five and sometimes fourteen performances a week were
given at each of our American hospitals in France--and with a complete
change of program each week even to the Pathé weekly news, which was
purchased and sent overseas by the Westchester County (N. Y.) Chapter of
the American Red Cross as its own special contribution. But I think that
the most interesting feature of this entire work--and the most
human--was the ingenious scheme by which the projectors were so adapted
as to throw the pictures upon the ceilings of the wards and so give an
untold pleasure and diversion to the tedious hours of our boys who were
so completely bedridden as not to be able to even sit erect. And there
were many such.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have drifted for the moment quite away from Vichy and the lovely blue
and white and gold theater of our Red Cross in the heart of that
ancient town. While it was headquarters, it was, after all, but part of
the American Red Cross show there; because while our Red Cross
recognized that the biggest part of its job was taking care of the
enlisted man it was by no means blind to the necessities of his
officers. Which led to the regeneration--moral and otherwise--of still
another well-known gambling place in the town--the smart casino in the
center of the park. This became, quite quickly and easily, an officers'
club for the A. E. F. One room was reserved ordinarily for the French,
while at least once a week the entire place was given over to a dance.

Dancing! Neither the enlisted man nor the officer ever seemed to tire of
it. Each week also the enlisted men piled up the tables and the chairs
in their hut and conducted a dance of their own, of which one of the
chief features was ice cream--not fox-trotting. As in the huts and
canteens elsewhere across France there were never nearly enough girls to
serve as partners for the men. But there were no "wallflowers." The
floor manager always carried a whistle. A number of times during the
progress of each number he blew it--as a signal that the men lined along
the walls were privileged to "cut in" on those already dancing. And on
the occasions when some restless, impetuous boy blew a whistle of his
own and seized the first partner available there was ever a delightful

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet with all these things it could not be said that life in the hospital
center was exactly an even round of social events; yet it rarely ever
ceased for long to be dramatic. Take that November evening when
twenty-seven hundred of our boys who had been prisoners of the _boche_
came slipping into Vichy. Their uniforms were filthy and ragged. Slung
from their shoulders were the Red Cross boxes such as had sustained them
not only during their incarceration in Germany but on their long journey
out of that miserable place.

The limited capacity of these Red Cross boxes for our imprisoned men had
precluded their containing much more than mere food necessities. And the
boys in the ragged uniforms were hungry, not only for food of the
"home-cooked" varieties, but for everyday human associations. They had
both; even though the hut and the casino each worked steadily and for
long hours six wonderful nights in succession. Nearly four thousand
miles away from home, every effort was made to make this home-coming
into Vichy from the neutral gateways of Switzerland a real one.

These prisoners, as well as the greater numbers of the wounded, arrived
with practically no personal possessions. The army promptly re-equipped
them with uniforms, but the job of the Home and Hospital Bureau of the
Army and Navy Department, which had this particular part of the big Red
Cross job as its very own province, was to anticipate and look after all
of their personal necessities. This thing it did, and its
representatives coöperated with the army officers in studying the most
urgent requirements and finding the very gifts which would provide the
greatest proportion of real comfort.

       *       *       *       *       *

Come back, if you will, once again to statistics. I make no apologies
for introducing the flavor of the official report into this narrative
from time to time. Reports ofttimes are indeed dull things; but the
reports of almost any department of the Red Cross have a real human
interest--even when they seemingly deal with mere percentages and rows
of figures. Take a hospital which solemnly reports that 175,872 hospital
days have been given to the army in the short space of four months. That
fact can hardly be dismissed as a dull statement. It carries with it
pictures of white wards, of the capable hands of nurses, of the faces of
brave boys in long lines along the ways of an institution which modestly
confesses that it holds but a mere fifteen hundred beds.

Because the following excerpt from the report of a Red Cross captain at
Vichy carries with it a picture of the boys who straggled into the local
headquarters asking for everything from socks to chewing gum, it is set
down here:

"During the month of October (1918), 78,278 packages of tobacco, 7,480
tubes of tooth paste, 7,650 toothbrushes, 3,650 combs, 3,460 Red Cross
bags, 2,850 packages of gum, 1,650 cakes of soap, 1,250 pipes, 1,560
handkerchiefs, 1,245 cakes of chocolate, 1,200 packages of shaving soap,
950 pencils, 1,000 boxes of matches, 900 shaving brushes, 500 packages
of playing cards, 450 washcloths, 400 sweaters, 350 razors, 350 boxes of
talcum powder, and various smaller amounts of pens, ink, malted milk,
razor blades, checkers, thread, games, pipe cleaners, scissors, and
drinking cups were distributed free; chiefly, so far as we know, to
penniless boys. As this is written, this office is having a thousand
applicants a day and, while all their wants cannot be met, no one leaves

"No one leaves empty-handed...."

The boys who marched across the snow-blanketed park at Vichy that
January morning with their crimson-crossed bags in their hands, were,
after all, only typical of many thousands who had gone before. For three
days they had anticipated their evacuation by asking for writing paper,
for souvenir postals, for pocket song books, for gloves, sweaters, and
the rest of the usual output of the Red Cross--the variety of whose
resources would put a modern city department store to the blush. One
youngster came to the headquarters on the last day holding his trench
cap in his hand.

"It's too dirty for the trip home," he said. "Can't the Red Cross get me
a new one?"

No, the Red Cross could not duplicate the work of the army's
quartermasters, but it could, and would, help the boy out. So it gave
him a cake of soap and showed him how he could clean his greasy cap
quite thoroughly and then dry it on the office stove before starting on
the march across the park.

The difficulties of keeping up a full stock of Red Cross supplies of
every sort in a land and in times when shipping space of all kinds was
at a great premium should be obvious. Of necessity surgical supplies
took precedence over luxuries of every sort. Then it was that such
places as Vichy and Savenay and all the rest of them had to depend, not
alone upon their normal receipts, but upon the resourcefulness of
individual workers and the fruitfulness of the surrounding country. That
was the reason why in one instance when Red Cross bags could not be
shipped into Vichy, they were manufactured there by the thousands by
French needlewomen. Indeed no doughboy should leave "empty-handed." Near
by districts for a considerable number of miles roundabout were invaded
by automobiles seeking the bright-colored cretonnes, which make the bags
so very gay and, in turn, so much the more welcome.

On at least two other occasions the vicinage was similarly combed for
emergency supplies--for the American celebrations of both Thanksgiving
Day and Christmas, 1918. Much was made of both these glorious Yankee
holidays. The time was propitious for real celebration. Peace was not
only in the air, but at last actually accomplished. The hearts of men
were softened. One could sing of "peace on earth" and not choke as the
words came to his lips.

So it was that Christmas Day at Vichy was a particularly gay one--gay,
despite even the pain and suffering that remained in all the great
hospital wards there. For men--American men, if you please, could, and
did, hide for the nonce their fearful suffering. Pain begone! The carols
were in the air. The hundreds of gayly decorated electric-light bulbs
were flashing on at dusk. And you might go from ward to ward and there
count all of fifty Christmas trees--these, too, brilliantly decorated.
And the decorators in all these instances had been Red Cross women and
men--and wounded soldiers lying ill at ease in their hospital cots. They
made a great job of all of it--a merry job as well. And when the
supplies of such conventional raw materials as tinsel and popcorn fell
short they seemed to find something else that did quite as well.

For that hospital celebration among our wounded men at Vichy just 13,657
socks were filled, which bespeaks the exact number of doughboys that
participated in the celebration. If they could have spoken, each of
these humble articles of clothing might easily have told a double
story--the tale of its own origin and the romance that came to it after
that memorable Christmas Day; for they were American knit socks, and no
factory--no inanimate, impersonal place, peopled with machines rather
than with humans--had turned them forth. Each and every one of them were
hand-knitted. And some of them had come from my lady's parlor, situated
in an upper floor, perhaps, of a great and gaudy apartment house, and
some had come from the prairie ranch, and some had come from cabins upon
the steep and desolate mountainsides of the Alleghenies or the Rockies
or the Sierras. From East and West and North and South they had
come--but all had come from the United States; and I am perfectly
willing to predict that every blessed one returned forthwith to the land
of its birth.

The mate of each one of these 13,657 socks was rolled and placed in its
toe. Then followed other things--shaving soap, cigarettes, tobacco,
nuts, candy, handkerchiefs--by this time you ought to know the Red Cross
list as well as I. While, by connivance with the head nurse of each of
the wards, each blessed sock was individually tagged and addressed to
its recipient. There is nothing, you know, like personal quality in a
Christmas gift.

       *       *       *       *       *

If, after the perusal of all these pages, you still insist upon being
one of those folk who regard the triumph of our Red Cross in France as
one of American organization, rather than of American individualism, and
American generosity, permit me to explain to you that in the paragraphs
of this chapter you have slipped from the work of the Bureau of
Hospital Administration to that of the Home and Hospital Bureau of the
Army and Navy Department. The distinctly medical and surgical phases of
the Red Cross work in the A. E. F. hospitals across France was a major
portion of the burden of Colonel Burlingame's job; the more purely
recreative and comfort-giving phases came under Majors J. B. A. Fosburgh
and Horace M. Swope, both of whom served as directors of the Army and
Navy Departments during the Gibson régime. But the distinction between
these two departments was almost entirely one of name. Each, after all,
was American Red Cross and as American Red Cross worked--to a common and
unselfish and entirely humanitarian end.

       *       *       *       *       *

If I have lingered upon Vichy it has been because its story was so
nearly the story of the Red Cross work in other A. E. F. hospitals
across France. The narrative of each differs as a rule only in the most
minor details. Sometimes, of course, the unexpected happened, as at
Mesves, where our Red Cross under emergency served a double purpose.
During the October, 1918, drive, when the American Army was functioning
to its highest efficiency and in so functioning was, of necessity,
making a fearful sacrifice of its human units, this hut was taken over
by the Medical Corps of the army and fitted out as an emergency ward,
with ninety-five cots. For six weeks it so served as a direct hospital

In the great Base Hospital No. 114 at Beau Deserte--just outside the
embarkation ports of Bordeaux and Bassens--our Red Cross not only served
from 1,200 to 1,500 cups of coffee a day in its huge hut, but actually
maintained an athletic field, in addition to the billiard tables which
were an almost universal feature of every Red Cross hut. And at another
base hospital in that same Bordeaux district, several companies of
evacuated men were being told off into groups of a hundred each--and
each in charge of a top sergeant--ready to sail on the following day.
Then, just as the men were about to march to the gangplank of the
waiting steamer, one of their number fell ill of the scarlet fever and
the entire group had to be quarantined. It was one of the many jobs of
the Red Cross force there to keep these restless and disappointed men
amused and as happy as possible, and in turn necessary to use a little


One Red Cross girl down there at that particular time told me how she
had experimented with it in that trying instance. Her eyes sparkled as
she announced the results of the experiments.

"It worked, it really worked," she said. "I found a group of colored
men, and upon that group used all the scientific new thought that I
might possibly bring to my aid, and with real success. The men were
mollified and a bit contented, so that one of them--I think that back in
the Middle West he had been a Pullman porter--finally came to me and

"'Missy, I's a-found our hoodoo. Sure what could we expect when we've
got a cross-eyed nigger preacher in our squad?'"



"Wounded yesterday; feeling fine to-day."

How many times that message--varying sometimes in its exact phrasing,
but never in its intent--was flashed from France to the United States
during the progress of the war never will be known. It was a lie--of
course. Would any sane mother believe it, even for a minute? But it was
the lie glorified--the lie idealized, if you will permit me to use such
an expression. And it was the only lie that I have ever known to be not
only sanctioned, but officially urged, by a great humanitarian
organization. For the Red Cross searchers in the American hospitals in
France were not allowed to write to the folks at home in any other
tenor. Little scraps of messages muttered, perhaps, between groans and
prayers, were hastily taken down by the Red Cross women in the
hospitals, and by them quickly translated into a message of good cheer
for the cable overseas. Any other sort was unthinkable.

Here was a typical one of these:

"Wounded yesterday in stomach--feeling fine. Tell mother will be up in a
day or two."

Would you like to look behind the scenes in the case of this particular
message? Then come with me. We are "behind the scenes" now--in the
dressing room which closely adjoins the operating room in a big American
evacuation hospital not far from Verdun. They had done with him on the
operating table--for the moment. One operation had been performed, but
another was to follow quickly. In the meantime, the soldier boy--he
really was not much more than a boy--sat straight upward on his cot and
watched them as they pulled the tight, clinging gauze from his raw and
tender flesh. All he said during the process was:

"Do you think that I could rest a minute, doc, before you do the second

He got his momentary rest. And as he got it, sat, with a cigarette
between his tightly clinched teeth, and dictated the letter home which
you have just read.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another Red Cross girl walking through one of the wards of that same
hospital near Verdun stopped at the signal of a wounded man who lay
abed. He was a very sick-looking man; his face had the very pallor of
death. And his voice was very low and weak as he told the Red Cross
woman that he wanted her to write a letter for him to his wife back in a
little Indiana town.

"Tell that I'm wounded--just a little wounded, you understand. Got a
little shrapnel in my legs, but that I'll be home by Christmas. Did you
get all of that?"

The girl nodded yes. She took the notes on a bit of scrap paper
mechanically; for all the time her eyes were on the face of the man. All
the time save once--when they fell upon the smooth counterpane of his
bed, then returned to the man's face once again. She knew that he was
lying, and because she was new, just come over from America--she did not
know that the Red Cross held one particular lie to be both glorified and
sanctified--she folded up the memorandum, told the wounded man that she
would write the letter--and went out.

She went straight to the records room of the place. Yes, it was true.
Her suspicions as to the unnatural smoothness of that counterpane were
confirmed there. The man had had shrapnel in both legs, but that was not
all. Both had been amputated--well above the knees.

The Red Cross girl went back to him, her eyes blazing with anger. Her
anger all but overcame her natural tenderness.

"I can't, I can't," she expostulated. "I can't send that letter."

"Why can't you?" he coolly replied.

She faced him with the truth.

"Well, what of it?" said he. "If I do get home, I'll get home by
Christmas--and that will be time enough for her to know the truth.
She'll be ready for it, then. But--" he lowered his voice almost to a
whisper--"I'm not going to get home. The doctor's told me that, but he
don't have to tell me; I know it. And if I _don't_ get home she'll never
be the wiser----. You write that letter, just as I told it to you."

       *       *       *       *       *

Here was by far the saddest phase of the Red Cross work for our soldier
boys--and almost the most important. It was one thing for the girl in
the steel-gray uniform, with the little crimson crosses affixed to her
shoulders, to play and make merry with the wounded men who were getting
well; but it was a different and vastly more difficult part of the job
to play fair, let alone make merry, with those who were not going to get
well; who, at the best, were to shuffle through the rest of their lives
maimed or crippled or blind. Yet what an essential part of the big job
all that was! And how our girls--moved by those great fountains of human
love and sympathy and tenderness that seemingly spring forever in
women's hearts, rose to this supreme test over there! And after they had
so arisen how trivial seemed the mere handing out of sandwiches or
coffee or cigarettes! This was the real touch of war--the touch supreme.
After it, all others seemed almost as nothing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in the progress of the conflict our Red Cross foresaw the great
necessity that would be coming for its acting as a medium of
communication between the doughboy and his folks--three thousand miles
or more away. The United States Army had made little or no provision to
meet this need; it had far larger and far more immediate problems ahead
of it. And so about the best that it could be expected to do would be to
notify the folks at home that their boy had made sacrifice--supreme or
very great--for his country; at the best, a sort of emotionless
proceeding upon its part. In the meantime there was hardly a waking hour
that those selfsame folks were not thinking of the boy in khaki. While
if anything happened to him--serious even, but not quite serious enough
to justify the setting of the somewhat cumbersome machinery of the
army's elaborate system of notification into motion--both he and the
folks were helpless. France is indeed a long, long distance away from
the United States. Three thousand miles is a gap not easily spanned.

But it was the job of the American Red Cross to span that gap; not only
to bring news of the boy to the home folks, but, in many, many
instances, to bring news of them to him. The one thing was nearly as
valuable as the other. And while in the elaborate organization of the
American Red Cross they were operated as separate functions and bureaus,
their work in reality was so interwoven that in the pages of this book
we shall consider them virtually as one, and shall begin a serious
consideration of this important phase of Red Cross work by calling
attention to a very few of the ramifications of a hospital searcher's
job. First and foremost her task was to tell those same home folks all
that she could pen, or typewrite, about their own particular
soldier--exactly where he was at that time and just how he progressed.
The ordinary method of handling the vast volume of these messages was in
the form of short, concise, personal reports which passed through the
Paris headquarters of the American Red Cross and were forwarded by it to
the National Headquarters at Washington, where they were made up into
letters and forwarded to the families. There were, of course, many
variations in this method; for instance, when it was advisable for Paris
to write direct to the boy's parents, and in those other cases, which
you have already seen, where the letter to America went direct from the
Red Cross worker's room at the hospital. The choice between these
methods was left quite largely to the individual worker who, in turn,
weighed each situation and its necessities, individually and separately.

It was only in these last instances that the lie was sanctioned and even
permitted, and even then only upon the absolute demand of the wounded
man, himself. He had all the rights in such a situation, and the Red
Cross bowed to and respected those rights--in every case.

The Red Cross reports through headquarters were accurate--invariably,
and, at first sight, generally unemotional. Here is one of them that is
quite typical:

"Private Edward Jones--20th Regiment, Company H--has been wounded in
both legs. Wounds painful, but amputation not necessary. In excellent
spirits--sends love to family."

Short, to be sure. But to a newsless family three thousand--perhaps six
thousand--miles away, with its necessary detail, tremendously

       *       *       *       *       *

Return with me if you will for a final visit to Vichy. No group of Red
Cross workers anywhere held a more sacred responsibility than the women
who were stationed there. Day in and day out they passed through the
white lanes of wards in the military hospitals and each day looked--and
looked deeply--into the hearts of the American boys that lined them.
Heart and soul these women of the steel-gray uniforms were at the
service of our wounded soldier men--at their very beck and call, if you
please. And when of a morning a bed here or a bed there was empty, the
searchers understood, and prepared to write a letter--a scant matter of
sympathetic record at the best--that somewhere back in America would at
least relieve the tension of waiting.

Some of the messages that these searchers sent were--as you already
know--full of gladness; thank God for them! Others warned gently--the
boy was coming home with his face forever scarred or his limbs or his
eyes gone. Still others told--and told again and again--of the brave and
the battling soul that finally had slipped away into the eternal mystery
of the Valley. Each of these last held between its tiny pages a single
flower--plucked at the last moment from the funeral wreath.

Let me quote from one of these letters of a Red Cross searcher.

"I am constantly on duty here," she says, "and visit your brother Harry
almost daily. He has been unfortunate enough to have been wounded in the
right leg, which the doctors found necessary to amputate just below the
knee. I know this will be a great shock to you, but let me hasten to add
that Harry is in the best of condition otherwise. The wound is healing
marvelously clean and quickly. He is in the healthiest and happiest
frame of mind and exceptionally cheerful. Harry wants me to tell you
that the last dressing of the wound was yesterday. He expects to be up
and trying his crutches within ten days. He received your September
money order of ten dollars for which he thanks you very much. I have
just cashed it for him.... I am sorry to be the bearer of this sad news,
but am happy that I can assure you of his early recovery and his
splendid courage."

Men who were able to write for themselves were supplied with paper and
encouraged to do so. Others who were far too ill or confined prone in
surgical apparatus--their very hands caught and held taut in a cruel
network of pulleys and weights and drain tubes--dictated their letters
home--and invariably lied as to their condition. All was "going well."
The patient sufferer had but one report to pass his lips. "Tell them
that I'm feeling fine," was the message that he ordered home.

Sometimes by piecing together information culled from a variety of
sources, the searcher was enabled to reconstruct the picture of the last
hour of some soldier's life. Comrades would recount the story of his
death at the front or describe the moment of his capture by the enemy.
In fact persistent questioning revealed such facts as finally cleared up
the doubt as to the fate of a certain Yankee corporal. It happened that
the boy had disappeared in April, 1918. It was a number of months
afterward that a patient was discovered at a port of embarkation who

"Yes, he was killed when the Germans were attacking and a heavy barrage
was coming over. They came around back of us and threw hand grenades
from the rear. Corporal ---- pulled his pistol and yelled: 'Here they
come, boys! Give it to them!' He was awfully generous. He used to get a
lot of scrapbooks and pass them around to the boys. When he got a box
from home he shared it. He was a mighty generous fellow about lending
money, too."

The women who made those scrapbooks and packed those boxes of "goodies"
can have no memento from his grave over there, but here was the sweet
memory of his courage and his generosity. Think of the comfort that her
woman's soul must have found in that frank, outspoken boyish tribute and
the relief at finally having had at least the definite information of
the truth! So it was that our Red Cross searchers gave constant and
almost invaluable aid in revising and verifying the casualty lists of
the army; and many who were accounted missing--that dread term that
means nothing and yet can mean so much--could, because of their work, be
accurately enrolled as dead or as prisoners.

As far back as the summer of 1917 five women had been definitely
assigned to this activity--not at Vichy then, but at the American army
hospitals which already were beginning to multiply in France. By
December of the following year this staff numbered nearly two hundred
women, who worked either in the hospitals or in the American Red Cross
headquarters in Paris. And while these worked in the hospitals, the Red
Cross officers in the field--men serving as searchers, chaplains, or
Home Communication representatives--were working in close coöperation
with the statistical officers of the army. These were stationed in
training camps and concentration camps and with various combat
divisions. Ten men were assigned direct by the Red Cross to the Central
Records Office of the Adjutant General's Department of the A. E. F.

Understand very clearly, if you will, please, once again, that while in
very rare cases our Red Cross did announce casualties, that, after all,
was not its real province. To engage in that would have been a mere
duplication of the army's own work. Mortality letters were not sent
direct to the nearest of kin; they were forwarded to the A. E. F.
Central Records Office in France for final disposition, so that their
release through the mails would not anticipate the official announcement
from the War Department; while the other information, in most instances,
was reported to the Paris headquarters of the American Red Cross and was
later disseminated here in the United States from the American Red Cross
headquarters in Washington.

The lists of the missing soldiers were furnished by the army. Duplicates
of these were then immediately distributed to the Red Cross searchers
and representatives, who at once sought clues to the individual stories
to be builded about the name of each man. Sometimes through arrangements
with the army authorities the _boche_ prisoners were interviewed, and
these occasionally furnished facts with reference to American prisoners
in Germany and gave definite information about aviators who had
apparently disappeared within the enemy lines.

Incorporated in these lists of the missing were also the names of all
soldiers and sailors concerning whom inquiries had been made of our Red
Cross either here in America or over there in France. In the one case
these inquiries and in the other through the Paris headquarters in the
Hotel Regina. In one month 1,955 cables were sent across the Atlantic
from the United States requiring immediate information regarding wounded
or missing men. In December, just following the armistice, the Paris
office received more than a thousand individual requests for news of the
doughboys. Almost literally these came in floodtides; but none was
ignored or forgotten. It made little difference, either, as to whether
any of them was addressed. The Red Cross cleared its mail with a good
deal of efficiency and promptness. Its huge central post-office in Paris
was a marvel of precision--and it had at all times a difficult job. Yet
it so happened that it was in charge of a man without any previous
experience in such a task--Senator Henry Brevoort Kane, of Rhode Island.
It chanced that Senator Kane displayed an immediate adaptability for the
job--and with this, combined with great patience and persistence, he
made a real success of it.

Perhaps the most satisfactory part of the searcher's job was in many
ways the search for missing men--by interviewing the boys in the
hospitals about their friends and intimates, getting tremendously tiny
details about these in camp or in battle, or even in the hospitals
themselves, and from these details evolving the web of evidence--Conan
Doyle or E. Phillips Oppenheim could hardly have had a more fascinating
time of it than did some of our Red Cross women in unraveling the tangle
of confusion which they found wound about this boy or that, or the other
fellow. Many an agonizing situation, indeed, was cleared up through the
efforts of these women. And such times were almost the sole relief from
a task that frequently was dreary and almost always distressing.

If you would the better understand the real task that these women faced,
permit me to quote from a letter written by one of them:

"The most entertaining part of my work is writing letters home for the
wounded boys. In answer to my letters the replies that come back are
more than adequate reward. The letters come from farmhouses in Vermont,
from factory towns in Connecticut, from busy Massachusetts cities, and
from lonely Western ranches. They are pathetic, sad, funny; but all of
them are overflowing with surprises and gratitude for the person in the
mysterious 'over there' who had taken the trouble to visit and write
home for her 'particular boy' after he was wounded. These letters for
the boys were usually written to a woman--mothers, sisters, or 'girls'
the favorites first, of course, although occasionally 'aunty' or
'teacher' came in for a message of reassurance.

"The first letter I had to write was for a boy who had lost his right
eye. He wanted me to write his girl, whose photographs I had seen
several times. She had very fluffy hair and usually seemed to stand in
an apple orchard. After this he made a rather staggering suggestion:
Would I please read all of Alice's letters so that I should know what
kind of a girl she was and so answer her letters better! Realizing that
a Red Cross worker should flinch at nothing and trying not to think of
Alice's feelings in the matter, I took the letters out of a bag at the
head of his bed and plunged into the first one.

"To my intense relief they all began 'Dear Bill,' and ended 'Your true
friend, Alice.' Her only reference to matters of the heart was the hope
that he would not fall in love with any of those pretty Red Cross nurses
over there. For the most part Alice seemed to prefer impersonal topics,
such as the potato crop, the new class, and the party at the grange
Saturday night. Bill thought she was a mighty fine writer and, I think,
was a little worried lest I be unable to compose a letter worthy of her.
He was worried, too, about the best way to tell her that he had lost an
eye. 'You know, _I_ don't care. The left one is working better than it
ever did and I know it won't make no difference in the way she thinks of
me, but she'll feel pretty bad for me, I know that, and I want you to
please tell her about it real gentle.' We finally decided to tell her in
this letter that he had been seriously injured in his right eye and
then, in the next letter, which he would write himself, he would tell
her it was gone.

"In due time I received a grateful note from Alice in a very long,
elegant, and exceedingly narrow envelope inclosing a correspondence card
covered with high-schoolish-girlish writing. 'Thank you so much,' she
wrote, 'for your letter giving me news of Bill, who I was getting so
anxious about, as I had not heard from him for so long. I am glad he is
getting better and that he really is not suffering.'

"Another grateful letter came from the mother of Michael Holihan. Mike
had been badly wounded and at first no one thought he could possibly
pull through, for he had a piece of shrapnel in the liver. He survived
the operation, however, and became very anxious to write his mother.
'Now you just please write her what I tell you,' he said. 'Mother is
pretty old now and she is always worrying, but I got it all thought out
just what I am going to say to make her stop.' This is what he dictated:

    "'_Dear Mother_:

    "'I was hurt the other day but not enough to keep me down very
    long and I am as well as ever now. They certainly do use me fine
    in this hospital. I am having a great time. Gee, I am a happy
    boy, and don't you worry none about me, mother.

    "'Your son,

"After making this effort he lay back on the pillow and shut his eyes
for a moment, tired out, only to open them anxiously to ask: 'That'll
fix her, won't it?' Apparently it did not entirely 'fix her,' for her
answer came back to me--an anxious scrawl--'I received your letter and,
dear Red Cross lady, it was so kind of you to write when you must be so
busy and let me know how my son was getting along, as I was waiting day
after day for a letter from him and I didn't know what could be the
matter as he always writes regularly like the good son he is. I am
worrying day and night and even if Mike did say I shouldn't because what
do boys know about it if they are sick or well and my Mike would say
that he was well if he could only lay flat on his back and look at the
ceiling he would. As this is all I have to say, I will bring this letter
to a close. Tell Mike, I and all the family have wrote him!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Our Red Cross as well as our army officers, themselves, recognized
almost from the beginning that an untroubled soldier always is the best
soldier. It also appreciated--as this book already should have told
you--that its primary object in Europe was to bring the utmost comfort
and relief to America's fighting millions. That was why, in the early
summer of 1918, it issued a small pamphlet telling the doughboy to "pack
up his troubles in his old kit bag" and to hand them to the first Red
Cross representative he met. He was assured that there was no worry of
any kind, either on the one side of the ocean or the other, that the Red
Cross could not or would not shoulder for him. These pamphlets were
printed by the hundreds of thousands and distributed to every American
soldier in France. And they were an evidence of the real desire of the
great organization of the crimson cross to make itself invaluable, not
alone in the comparatively few large ways of succor, but in an almost
infinite number of smaller and individual ones. It was in this last sort
of help, of course, that the Home Communication Service shone. It was
its own particular sort of a job to take from the harassed minds of
individual soldiers their individual problems--as varied and as
complicated as the temperaments and the conditions of the doughboys,
themselves. Take a single instance:

Here was a man who was owner of a small but growing business in the
Mohawk Valley of New York State. When a unit was being recruited near
Utica and a call for volunteers was being issued, he responded--with
instant promptness. At the time he donned the khaki the two banks in the
little town from which he came held notes against his business for a sum
of a little more than a thousand dollars. They had been endorsed by his
brother, a hard-working farmer of the valley.

Before this boy had been mobilized he arranged to have his young wife
conduct the business--with the aid of his long-time assistant. The banks
told him that the notes would, in no event, be called before his return
from the service of his country. They were fairly perfervid in their
expressions of their desires for patriotic service, and the young man
left for France, his mind well at ease.

His first letters from home were full of optimistic comfort. A little
later, however, they were not quite so serene. Finally this soldier
received a letter from his wife stating quite frankly and without
reserve that the two banks had called the loans, forced his brother to
sell part of his farm stock, and then had sold out their little

The boy in khaki was furious. A week before he had stuffed into his
_musette_ the little American Red Cross booklet which told of that
organization's sincere desire to help the individual American soldier
who found himself in trouble. "I'll take them at their word," thought he
and immediately sought out the Red Cross man with his unit, and to him
spilled the entire story. The Red Cross man boiled. He was not a young
man--being a bit too old for regular army service, he had taken the Red
Cross way as being the best for him to serve his country--and he had
heard stories of that sort before, and decided to take prompt action on
this one.

It so happened that there were some pretty big American bankers on the
American Red Cross staff over there in France. When this incident was
rushed through to them--with vast promptness--they, too, took action.
They did not even wait for the mails, but cabled the main facts of the
story to the secretary of the American Bankers' Association, saying that
the proofs were coming on by post, but requesting immediate action. A
representative of the Association took the first train up into central
New York and, through a personal investigation of the books of the two
banks, quickly verified the incident--in every detail. After that he
promptly returned to New York city and, placing the matter before the
executive committee of the Bankers' Association, asked that justice be
quickly done. It was. The two miserly and hypocritical banking
institutions were forced to return the young soldier's business to his
wife and to pay back the brother the money which they had taken from
him. After which they were both kicked out of the national association.

Along with the pamphlet advising the doughboy to pack up his troubles in
his old kit bag and then carry them to the nearest Red Cross man or
woman, there was prepared a poster originated by a man out in the Middle
West, who because of his understanding affection for boys was
particularly well qualified to prepare it. It was used to placard Brest
and some other port towns. As I recall it, it read something like this:


    Are you worried about anything back home; your wife, children,
    mother, insurance, allotments, taxes, business affairs, wills,
    powers of attorney, or any personal or family troubles of a
    private nature?


    will help you by cable, telegraph, letter--assisted by forty
    million members of the Red Cross at home. Information _Free_.

Troubles? The American doughboy seemed to have all the troubles that the
poster catalogued--and then some more. The response to the poster and
the pamphlet was immediate. Soldiers sought out the American Red Cross
Home Communication people all over France. At Brest the first office was
in a tent near Camp Pontanzen. Later two offices were established. One,
for the sailors, was located in Brest itself, and fairly accessible to
the landing stages. Another was located in a stone barracks that had
been builded by the great Napoleon. This office not having an outside
door available to passers-by, wooden steps were built up the wall to a
French window. Another set of steps was affixed to the inner wall and
led right down to the desk of the Red Cross representative. Eventually
this work at just this one point became so great in volume that four of
these offices were pressed into service.

"What does Home Service really do for a man?" asked a magazine woman who
was "doing" France for her publication at one of these offices. The
answer to her inquiry was definite.

"It does everything," they told her, "from giving a soldier a needle and
thread to letting our tears mingle with his between sobs when he tells
us of his home troubles."

Upon the request of our men, wills in proper form were drawn up by Red
Cross attorneys and forwarded to the men's families in this country.
There were men with wives not only in the United States, but in every
corner of the world--in Russia, in Assyria, in Italy, for instance--who
wished to be assured that their allotments from the government were
being delivered. During the influenza epidemic here and at a time when
the flames of a forest fire were winging their way across great spaces
in our West, the American Red Cross offices in Paris were besieged with
tragic appeals for immediate information from home.

In some of the army divisions the movements of troops were so sudden and
so uncertain that mail was badly delayed. Then the doughboys begged our
Red Cross for reports from home and our Red Cross furnished
them--through its service here.

"Our visitor found daddy and your wife and baby at luncheon," read one
of these reports from America. "They had roast chicken, stewed tomatoes,
mashed potatoes, hot bread, and jam.... Your wife is teaching school....
The B---- family has moved.... Your mother has one boarder and the crops
are fine.... Willie and Carrie are going to move away in the spring."

Can you imagine what such a report might mean to a man who had not heard
from home in over five months? There were many such. There were times
when men--American fighting men--"went over the top" with aching hearts
for some one who faced a particularly difficult problem of life back
here at home. Then it was that the Red Cross did not hesitate to use the
cable. It is hardly necessary to emphasize the relief which the
following exchange of messages must have meant to some one fighting man
in our khaki:

    PARIS, August 6, 1918.
    _To AMCROSS, Washington_:

    Report concerning confinement, Mrs. Harold W----, Rural Free
    Delivery Five, H----, Penn.

    WASHINGTON, August 14, 1918.
    _To AMCROSS, Paris_:

    Answering Inquiry No. ----. Mother and baby son three months old
    well and happy.

In this instance the worried fighter was an officer--a captain of
infantry. During the time which elapsed between the two cablegrams he
was wounded and the answer found him in a hospital, side by side with a
French _blessé_. A Red Cross searcher acted as interpreter for their
felicitations and in her official report of the incident included this

"Captain W---- was much improved as a result of the good news. He is
sitting up and eating roast chicken to-day. He says the American Red
Cross has cured him."

The Red Cross representatives here in America could not enter a home
unless they were welcome; neither could they force their way into the
hearts of men. They were compelled to wait until their help was sought.
The growing mental depression of a certain major of a fighting division
during those tense months of the midsummer of 1918 did not escape the
attention of the American Red Cross man attached to that division.
Suddenly the man, who had been marked because of his poise, became
taciturn--isolated himself. A reference to the Red Cross Home Service
which its division worker tactfully introduced into the table talk at
the mess at which both sat, however, did elicit some trivial rejoinder
from the man with the golden oakleaf upon his shoulder; while the
following day that same major wrote a letter to the Red Cross man--and
bared the reason for his most obvious melancholy.

It seemed that back here in the United States he had a little son, from
whom he had received no word whatsoever in more than six months. The
child was with the major's divorced wife, and his father was more than
anxious to know if he was regularly playing out of doors, if he was
receiving his father's allotment, and if he was buying the promised
Thrift Stamp each week. The army man already had his second golden
service stripe and greatly feared that his little son might be beginning
to forget him.

Under conditions such as these, visiting the boy was a diplomatic
mission indeed. Finally it was intrusted to the wife of an army officer.
And because army officers' wives are usually achieved diplomats if not
born ones, the ultimate result came in weekly letters from the boy,
which not only greatly relieved his father's mind but greatly increased
the bonds of affection between the two. The Greatest Mother in the World
is never above diplomacy--which is, perhaps, just another way of
expressing tact and gentleness.

There were many, many occasions, too, when the relatives at home
depended upon that selfsame diplomacy of hers to tell the disagreeable
stories of losses or perhaps to prepare the boys overseas to face an
empty chair in the family circle. There was one particularly fearful
moment when a brilliant young officer had to be told that the reason why
his young wife had ceased to write was because she had gone insane and
specialists believed that she could not recover. Boys were driven to Red
Cross offices by hidden affairs that flayed them hideously and of which
they wished to purge themselves. Some wanted to set old wrongs right.
Others had fallen blindly into the hands of the unscrupulous and had
only fully awakened to see their folly after they actually were upon the
battlefields of France. Then there were the softer phases of life--the
shy letters and the blushing visitors who wished to have a marriage
arranged with Thérèse or Jeanne of the black eyes and the delicate oval
face. I remember one of our boys who had fallen in love with a girl in
Nancy. Theirs was a courtship of unspoken love, unless soft glances and
gentle caresses do indeed speak more loudly than mere words; for they
had no easy bond of a common tongue. His French was doughboy French,
which was hardly French at all, and her English was limited. So that
after he had gone on to the Rhine and the letter came from her to him in
the delicate hand that the sisters at the convent had taught, he needs
must seek out Red Cross Home Communication and intrust to it the task of
uncommon delicacy, which it fulfilled to the complete delight and
satisfaction of both of them. For how could any mother, let alone the
Greatest Mother in the World, blind her eyes entirely to love?

She apparently had no intention of doing any such thing. For how about
that good-looking doughboy from down in the Ozark country somewhere, who
arrived in Paris on a day in the autumn of 1918 with the express
intention of matrimony, if only he knew where he could get the license?
French laws are rather fussy and explicit in such matters. Some one
suggested the Home Service Bureau of the American Red Cross to the boy.
He found his way quickly to it--with little Marie, or whatever her name
really was, hanging on his arm. A Red Cross man prayerfully guided the
pair through the legal mazes of the situation. First they went to a law
office in the Avenue de l'Opéra where the necessary papers were made
out; then the procession solemnly moved to the office of the United
States Vice Consul at No. 1 Rue des Italiens, where the signature of the
American official representative was duly affixed to each of the
papers; after which to the foreign office, where the French went through
all the elaborate processes of sealings and signatures which they seem
to love so dearly, and then--the work of Mother Red Cross was finished.
They were quite ready for the offices of the Church.

With the signing of the armistice all this work was greatly
increased--was, in fact, doubled and nearly trebled. When a man was
fighting his physical needs seemingly were paramount; but once off the
field, the worries that lurked in his subconscious mind seemed to rise
quickly to the surface. He then recalled that long interval since last
he heard from home. That troubled him, and he turned to the Red
Cross--those pamphlets and posters did have a tremendous effect. And if
he had no definite troubles over here, such as those we have just seen,
he was apt to be just plain hungry for a sight of the home--and the
loved ones that it held.

It was in answer to a demand such as this last that a Red Cross
representative right here in the United States took her motor car and
drove for a half day out to see a family of whose very existence she had
never before even heard; and, as a result of her call, wrote back a
letter from which the following excerpts are taken:

"I want to tell you about a never-to-be-forgotten trip that I took the
other day out to see a one hundred per cent patriot; an American mother
who has three sons in the service. The home is one of the coziest,
homiest, friendliest places you can imagine; one story, with that cool
spacious plan of construction that makes you want to get a book, capture
a chair on the wide, comfortable porch, and forget the world and its
dizzy rush; a great sweep of lawn and with some handsome Hereford calves
browsing in one direction and a cluster of shade trees nearer the house.

"The hills surrounding the house make a lovely view and all were covered
with grazing stock, also the fine Hereford cattle for which the place is
known. But the best part of the home is the dear little woman who hung a
service flag in the window with the name of a boy under each of the
three stars. She is the type of mother that draws every one to her;
tender, sensible, capable, broad-minded, and with a shrewd sense of
humor that keeps things going and makes life worth living for the entire

"She took us to a roomy side porch where her sewing unit of the Red
Cross meets each Tuesday. A marvelous amount of work has been turned out
in that side porch, and I'll wager a dollar to a doughnut that I know
the moving spirit of the workers. Off in a big, cool parlor bedroom
there were stacked up several perfectly enchanting 'crazy quilts' made
by these same busy women at odd moments. These are ready to be sent to
Serbia or they may be sold at auction for the benefit of the Red Cross.

"We saw pictures of each boy in the service--one in the navy, one in the
heavy artillery, and Milton, whom we all hope is not in the hospital by
now. Each boy had in his eyes the same intrepid look that the mother
has--one can tell that they made good soldiers. Knowing how busy farm
folk are, we reluctantly took our leave after seeing all these
interesting things and, as we swung out into the country lane, we looked
back and there stood the mother waving and smiling--the very best
soldier of them all."

       *       *       *       *       *

Can you not see how very simple it all was--how very human, too? As you
saw in one of the earlier chapters of this book, a fairly formal and
elaborate plan of organization had been laid out for all this work; but,
perhaps because war after all, is hardly more than a series of vast
emergencies, the American Red Cross searchers, either in the field or in
the hospitals, could hardly confine themselves to any mere routine of
clerical organization or work in the great task that was thrust upon
them. The unexpected was forever upon them.

As a single instance of this take the time when, in the Verdun sector
and in the hottest days of fighting that the American Army found there,
so many demands were made upon our Red Cross by the officers and men of
the A. E. F. for the purchase of necessities in Paris that a definite
shopping service quite naturally evolved itself out of the situation.
The man who initiated that service raced a motor car from Verdun to the
Paris headquarters in order to secure the materials necessary for its
inauguration. For when the American Red Cross made up its mind to do a
thing, it did it--and pretty quickly too.

So it went--a service complicatedly simple, if I may so express it. For,
despite its own batteries of typewriters and card indexes, there was, at
almost all times, that modicum of human sympathy that tempered the
coldness of mere system and glorified what might otherwise have been a
mere job of mechanical routine into a tremendously human and tender
thing. The men and girls of the Home Communication Service had a task of
real worth. Of a truth it was social service--of the most delicate
nature. It included at all times not only the study of the physical
needs of the soldier or sailor, but also at many times that of his
mental needs as well. In reality, it became a large part of the scheme
of preserving and enlarging the morale of the A. E. F. Every time a
soldier was freed of endless, nagging worry, he became a better soldier
and so just that much more strength was added to the growing certainty
of victory.



On November 11, 1918, the armistice was signed and the fighting of the
Great War ceased--almost as abruptly as it had begun. And the ebb tide
of American troops from Europe back to the United States began; almost
at once. For a time it was an almost imperceptible tide; in the
following month but 75,000 soldiers all told--officers and enlisted
men--were received through the port of New York, at all times the
nation's chief war gateway; yet this was but the beginning. Each month
of the early half of 1919 registered an increase of this human tide
inflowing as against the preceding months, until May, with 311,830
troops received home, finally beat, by some 5,000 men, the record
outgoing month of July, 1918, when under the terrific pressure induced
by the continued German drive, 306,731 officers and men had been
dispatched from these shores. Yet June, 1919, overtopped May. In that
month 342,686 troops passed not only under the shadow of the beloved
statue of Liberty, but also into the friendly and welcoming ports of
Boston, Newport News, and Charleston, while the Secretary of War
promised that the midsummer months that were immediately to follow would
break the June record. A promise which was fulfilled.

Long before the signing of the armistice, Pershing had ruled that the
work of the American Red Cross with the well men of the A. E. F. was
specifically to be limited to them while they were en route from one
point to another--along the lines of communication, as you already have
seen in an earlier chapter. To the Young Men's Christian Association was
intrusted the chief burden of caring for them in their more or less
permanent camps. This meant for our Red Cross in the final months of
the war--before peace was actually signed and declared--a task almost
exactly like that which had confronted it in its very first months of
war experience in France. The stations along the railroad lines of
eastern France, Luxembourg, and the Moselle Valley--the lines of
communication between our French base ports and the occupied districts
of the German states--offered to the American Red Cross the very same
canteen problems as had once faced it at Châlons-sur-Marne and Épernay.
Treves and Coblenz were hardly different from either of these--save
perhaps in their increased size.

Because Coblenz is rather more closely connected in the mind of the
average American with our Army of Occupation, let us begin with it, here
and now. It was, in fact, the easternmost outpost of the work of our Red
Cross with our army over there. There the lines of communication
officially began, and ran up the railway which ascends the beautiful but
extremely tortuous valley of the Moselle. And where the lines of
communication began--in the great railroad station of Coblenz--the
American Red Cross also began. It had two canteens in that station; one
just off the main waiting room, and the other, for the convenience of
troops who were merely halted in the train shed of the station while
going to and from the other American mobilization centers in that Rhine
bridgehead, right on the biggest and the longest of the train platforms.
Both were busy canteens; never more so, however, than just before 10:30
o'clock in the morning, which was the stated hour for the departure of
the daily leave-train toward the border lines of France. Then it was the
Red Cross coffee and sandwiches, tobacco and chewing gum were in
greatest demand; for the long leave-train boasted no such luxury as
dining cars, and there was scarce enough time at the noonday stop at
Treves for one to avail oneself of the lunch-room facilities in the
station there.

Yet Treves for the American Red Cross was a far, far more important
point than Coblenz. It was the headquarters of all its work in Germany,
and boasted in addition to the large American Red Cross canteens in each
of the two railroad stations, on either bank of the Moselle,
and the recreation huts at the base hospitals--for that matter,
there were also recreation huts at the base hospitals in and about
Coblenz--well-equipped clubs for both enlisted men and officers. Of
these the club for the enlisted men--for the rank and file of
doughboy--quite properly was the best equipped.

In the beginning it had been one of those large combination beer gardens
and music halls that always have been so very dear to the heart of the
German. It was the very sort of plant that could be, and was, quickly
adapted to the uses of a really big group of men. Its main _bierhalle_
made a corking dining room for the doughboys. The meals kept pace with
the apartment. Three times a day they appeared--feeding daily from 600
to 1,600 boys--and they were American meals--in fact, for the most part
composed of American food products--meats from Chicago, butter and
cheese from New York State, flour from Minnesota, and the like. For each
of these a flat charge of two marks--at the rate of exchange then
prevailing, about eighteen cents--was made. But if a doughboy could not
or would not pay, no questions were asked. The Treves Enlisted Men's
Club which the American Red Cross gave the A. E. F. was not a commercial
enterprise. It was run by an organization whose funds were the gift of
the American people--given and given freely in order that their boys in
khaki might have every comfort that money might provide.

The great high-ceilinged _halle_ held more than a restaurant. It was a
reading room as well, stocked with many hundreds of books and magazines.
In fact a branch of the American Library Association operated--and
operated very successfully--a small traveling loan library in one of the
smaller rooms of the club. Upon the walls of the vast room were pictures
and many maps--maps of the valley of the Moselle, of that of the Rhine,
of the Saar basin, of the operations in France. These last held much
fascination for the doughboys. The most of them were of divisions which
had led in the active and hard fighting, and the tiny flags and the
blue-chalk marks on the operation maps were in reality placed there by
their own efforts--but a few weeks and months before. It was real fun to
fight the old actions over and over again--this time with talk and a
pointing stick.

There were, of course, such fundamental conveniences for roaming
doughboys as baths, a bootblack and a barber shop--this last equipped
with chairs which the boys themselves invented and constructed; a plain
stout wooden armchair, into the back of which a board--not unlike an
old-fashioned ironing board--was thrust at an angle. When turned one way
this board formed just the proper headrest for a shave; in the other
direction it was at exactly the right angle for haircutting.

For the Officers' Club of our Red Cross at Treves, the Casino in the
Kornmarkt, the heart of the city, was taken over. The fact that this was
in the beginning a well-equipped club made the problem of its adaption a
very slight one indeed. And the added fact that officers require, as a
rule, far less entertainment than the enlisted men also simplified its
operation. As it was, however, the officers were usually given a dance
or a show each week--in the comfortable, large hall of the Casino. In
the Enlisted Men's Club there was hardly a night, however, without some
sort of an entertainment in its _halle_; and the vast place packed to
the very doors.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next stop after Treves in the eastbound journey from the Rhine of
the man in khaki was usually Nancy. And here there were not only canteen
facilities at the railroad station, but a regular Red Cross
hotel--situated in the Place Stanislas, in the very heart of the town.
In other days this had been the Grand Hotel, and the open square that
it faced has long been known as one of the handsomest in all France. In
fact, Nancy itself is one of the loveliest of all French towns; and
despite the almost constant aërial bombardments that were visited upon
it, escaped with comparatively minor damage.

[Illustration: "NEVER SAY DIE"
Sorely wounded, our boys at the great A. R. C. field hospital in the
Auteuil race track outside of Paris, kept an active interest in games
and sports]

The Red Cross hotel there was opened on September 30, 1918, and closed
on the tenth of April of the following spring--had eighty-eight rooms,
capable of accommodating one hundred guests, and two dormitories capable
of providing for some forty more. The room charges were invariably five
francs for a room--with the exception of one, usually reserved for
generals or other big wigs--which rented at eight francs a night. For
the dormitory beds an even charge of two francs (forty cents) nightly
was made, while in the frequent event of all these regular
accommodations of the hotel being engaged and the necessity arising of
placing cots in its broad hallways, no charge whatsoever was made for
these emergency accommodations.

For the excellent meals--served with the fullness of a good
old-fashioned Yankee tavern--a progressive charge of four francs for
breakfast, five francs for lunch, and six francs for dinner was made.
Surely no one could fairly object to the restaurant prices, which, even
in France in war-time stress, ranged from eighty cents to a dollar and
twenty! In fact it was a bonanza for the American officers who formed
the chief patrons of the place--although a bit of thoughtfulness on the
part of some one had provided this particular hostelry with a dormitory
of twelve beds and a single room with three which was held reserved for
American women war workers; an attention which was tremendously
appreciated by them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Eleven miles distant from Nancy was Toul; but Toul we have already
visited in the pages of this book. We know already the comfortable
accommodations that the traveler in khaki found in the group of hotels
and canteens which our Red Cross operated there. There were many of
these, even outside of Paris; one of the largest the tavern at the
badly overcrowded city of Bordeaux. That tavern had been little to boast
of, in the beginning. It was an ancient inn indeed; but good taste--the
purchase of some few dozen yards of cretonne, and cleanliness--the
unrelenting use of mop and broom and soap--had accomplished wonders with
it. There were others of these American Red Cross hotels in France
during the fighting period--the ones at Dijon, Is-sur-Tille, and
Marseilles were particularly popular. But it was in Paris itself that
the Red Cross accommodations for the itinerant doughboy in the final
months of the war, as in the long and difficult half year that
intervened between the signing of the armistice and the signing of
peace, reached their highest development. In the beginning these had
taken form in canteens which were operated night and day at each of the
important railroad stations. These were all right--so far as they went.
Their one-franc or seventy-five centime meals were wonderful indeed. I
have eaten in these canteens many times myself--and always eaten well. I
have been seated between a doughboy from North Carolina and one from
North Dakota and been served by a society woman in steel-gray uniform--a
woman whose very name was a thing to be emblazoned in the biggest
headline type of the New York newspapers, but who was working week in
and week out harder than the girls in busy restaurants back home are
usually wont to work.

If you would see these canteens as they really worked, gaze upon them
through the eyes of a brilliant newspaper woman from San Francisco, who
took the time and the trouble to make a thorough study of them. She

"A brown puddle of coffee was spreading over the white oilcloth. The
girl from home sopped it up with her dish towel. She brushed away messy
fragments of food and bread crumbs. Again there were few vacant places
for American soldiers on the benches at the long table in the canteen at
the Gare St. Lazare.

"The canteen, one of a circuit of thirteen maintained by the Red Cross
in Paris, had formerly been the corner of a baggage room in one of the
most important Paris terminals. The concrete floor bruised her feet. She
was as conscious of them as _Alice in Wonderland_ who discovered her own
directly beneath her chin after she nibbled the magic toadstool. The
girl was tired, but she smiled.

"It was really a smile within a smile. There was one on her lips which
seemed to sparkle and glance, waking responsive smiles on the faces of
the men. At once the gob who was born down in Virginia and had trained
at Norfolk, decided that she was from his own South. The six-foot
doughboy from California knew that she came from some small town in the
Sierras. To each of the men she suddenly represented home.

"That smile stays in place each day until she reaches her room in a
pension across the Seine on the Rue Beaux Arts. There, closing the door
upon the world with its constant pageant of uniformed men who seem
forever hungry and thirsty, she lets her smile fade away for the first
time that day.

"The smile within is tucked away in her heart with the memory of
agonizing moments aboard an ocean liner when she felt her exalted desire
for service ebbing away because she feared she would not be needed.
Needed! Now she wonders who else could have managed so tactfully the boy
who had been at sea for one year and discovered that he had forgotten
how to talk to an American woman. His diffidence was undermined with
another dish of rice pudding and an extra doughnut. He became a regular
boarder at the canteen where breakfast costs nine cents and any other
man's size meal may be had for thirteen cents. His leave ended in a half
day of excited shopping for which his younger sister will always be

"The girl from home had been one of those solemn creatures who was
called to the Overseas Club in New York for service abroad. She was one
of hundreds who had clinched their own faith in their ideals by
pledging such service. It had been a wrench, saying good-bye at the
station in the Middle West. There were no boys in the family, and her
father had made a funny little joke which betrayed his pride about
'hanging out a service flag now.' Armed with interminable lists which
called for supplies for twelve months, she bought her equipment. All the
time she was saying to herself:

"'I am ready to give all of my youth and my strength to the cause and to
hasten victory.'

"Then the armistice was signed. The wireless instrument sang with the
message. There was a celebration. The ship remained dark, still sliding
through the nights warily, but her next trip would be made with decks
ablaze and portholes open. The war was ended. It seemed to the girl that
in the silence of the aftermath she could hear once more the wings of
freedom throbbing above the world. She was glad and she was sorry. Her
fear was that after all the Red Cross would not need her because she
came too late.

"Canteen service--she pictured the work minus the tonic of danger as a
social job. Dressed in a blue smock and white coif she would bid a
graceful farewell to the A. E. F. as it filtered out of Europe. Now she
smiles. Needed? Her fingers are scarred and she wonders if she ever will
be able to pour one thousand bowls of coffee from the gigantic white
porcelain pitcher without blistering her hands.

"Each day she looks at the line of men jostling one another at the door.
She listens to their interminable questions and comes to the full
realization that she is one of the most important people in Paris, one
of two hundred girls feeding thirty-five thousand soldiers daily.

"As some workers leaving for home after more than a year of service tell
of making sandwiches under shell fire, of sleeping by the roadside in
the woods to fool the _boche_ flyers who bombed the Red Cross buildings,
she still feels the sly nip of envy. But soldiers do not cease to be
soldiers and heroes when the war is done.

"Other puddles formed on the table and she mopped them up. She had used
three towels during her eight-hour shift. A soldier, one of the
thousands passing daily through the six Paris stations on their way
home, journeying to leave areas, going to join the Army of Occupation or
assigned to duty in the city, called to her.

"'Sister, I want to show you something,' he said, and unwrapped a highly
decorative circlet of aluminum. It was a napkin ring which he had bought
from a _poilu_ who made it of scraps from the battlefield. There was an
elaborate monogram engraved on a small copper shield.

"'For my mother,' he explained. 'If you don't think it is good enough I
will get something else.'

"At once fifty rival souvenirs were produced. Men came from other tables
to exhibit their own. There was the real collector who bemoaned the
theft of a 'belt made by a Russian prisoner in Germany and decorated
with the buttons of every army in the world including the fire
department of Holland.'

"One of the new arrivals had hands stiffened from recently healed
wounds. She brought his plate of baked beans, roast meat, potatoes, a
bowl of coffee, and pudding. A young Canadian with flaming, rosy cheeks
divided the last doughnut with his friend, the Anzac. Crullers are the
greatest influence in canteen for the general friendliness among
soldiers of different armies. A League of Nations could be founded upon
them if negotiations were left to the privates about the
oilcloth-covered tables.

"The boy with the crippled hands protested that he did not want to
accept a dinner for which there was so little charge.

"'Say, Miss,' he said, 'I can pay more. I don't have to be sponging.'

"'You have folks in the states?' she asked. He had.

"'Then,' she explained, 'they are the ones who support the American Red
Cross. When you come here it is because the folks asked you in to

"'But I haven't any folks,' announced a sailor.

"'I'm from the States, so I am your folks,' she retorted, 'and the Red
Cross is your folks. We invite you to three meals a day as long as you
stay in Paris.'

"'You are my folks,' said the boy who was only a youngster, 'and you
sure look like home to me.'

"The soldier with the crippled hands wanted to describe his wounds. Like
hundreds of others he began with the sensations in the field, 'when he
got his.' Deftly as she had learned to do during hundreds of such
recitals, she cleaned up the table and stacked the plates without
seeming to interrupt. It was three o'clock, the end of her day. She had
reported at seven in the morning. The following week she would report
with the other members of the staff at eleven at night because the doors
of a canteen must never be closed.

"The boy talked on. He was explaining homesickness, the sort which
drives men from cafés where the food is unfamiliar and the names on the
menus cannot be translated into 'doughboy French' to such places as the
little room in the Gare St. Lazare.

"She discovered that her habitual posture was with arms akimbo and hands
spread out over her hips. This position seemed to rest the ache in her
shoulders. Through her memory flashed pictures of waitresses in station
eating houses who stood that way while tourists fought for twenty
minutes' worth of ham and eggs between trains.

"Red Cross after-war canteens were a social center for pretty idlers in
smart blue smocks?

"The smile on her lips never faltered and the hidden smile in her heart
became a little song of laughter.

"She was 'helping'--helping in an 'eating joint,' some of the boys
called it. But it was an eating joint with a soul."

What more could one ask of an eating-house?

From the canteen at the railroad terminals--which were all right so far
as they went--it was an easy step of transition to the establishment of
hotels for the enlisted men in the accessible parts of Paris--until
there was a total of six of these last, in addition to the five railway
station canteens--at Gare St. Lazare, Gare du Nord, Gare d'Orsay, Gare
d'Orléans, and Gare Montparnasse. The winter-time hotels were in the
Avenue Victor Emanuel, Rue Traversière, Rue la Victoire, Rue St.
Hyacinthe, and the Rue du Bac. These were all, in the beginning, small
Parisian taverns of the _pension_ type, which were rather quickly and
easily adapted to their war-time uses.

The great difficulty with the first five of these American Red Cross
doughboy hotels was their extreme popularity. They could hardly keep
pace with the demands made upon them--in the last weeks that preceded
and immediately following the signing of the armistice; while, with the
coming of springtime and the granting of wholesale leaves of absence by
the army, an immediate and most pressing problem confronted the American
Red Cross in Paris. The boys were coming into the town--almost literally
in whole regiments, and the provisions for their housing and
entertainment there were woefully inadequate--to say the least. Not only
were these accommodations, as furnished by the French, inadequate and
poor, but the charges for them often were outrageous.

Yet to furnish hotel accommodations in the big town, even of the crudest
sort, for a thousand--perhaps two thousand--doughboys a night was no
small problem. There were no more hotels, large or small, available for
commandeering in Paris; the various allied peace commissions had
completely exhausted the supply. Yet our Red Cross, accustomed by this
time to tackling big problems--and the solution of this was, after all,
but part of the day's work, and because there were no more hotels or
apartment houses or dormitories or barracks of any sort whatsoever
available in the city of more than two million folks--our Red Cross
decided to build a hotel. And so did--almost overnight.

It was a summer hotel, that super-tavern for our doughboys, and it stood
squarely in the center of that famous Parisian playground, the Champs de
Mars--and almost within stone throw of the Eiffel Tower and the _Ecole
Militaire_. To create it several dozen long barracks--like American Red
Cross standard khaki tents--were erected in a carefully planned pattern.
Underneath these were builded wooden floors and they were furnished with
electric lights and running water. A summer hotel could not have been
more comfortable; at least few of them are.

The Tent City, as it quickly became known, was opened about March 4,
1919, with bed accommodations for 1,400 men, while preparations were
quickly made to increase this capacity by another five hundred, for the
latest and the biggest of American Red Cross hotels in Paris had leaped
into instant popularity. Between six and nine-thirty in the morning and
ten-thirty and midnight in the evening, the boys would come streaming in
to the registry desk, like commercial travelers into a popular hostelry
in New York or Philadelphia or Chicago. They would sleep--perhaps for
the first time in many, many months--in muslin sheets. And these were as
immaculate as those of any first-class hotel in the States.

There was no charge whatsoever for these dormitory accommodations. For
the meals--simple but good and plentiful--the normal price of fifty
centimes (nine or ten cents) was asked, but never demanded; while merely
for the asking any of our boys in khaki could have at any hour the
famous Red Cross sandwiches of ham or salmon or beef mixture or
jam--chocolate or coffee or lemonade a-plenty to wash it down.

Definite provision was made for their amusement; there were "rubberneck
wagons" to take them afield to the wonderful and enduring tourist sights
of Paris and her environs--and at the Tent City itself a plenitude of
shows and dances as well as the more quiet comfort of books or
magazines, or the privilege and opportunity of writing a letter home.

"Of what use these last in Paris?" you ask.

Your point is well taken. I would have taken it myself--before I first
went to the Tent City. When I did it was a glorious April day, the sun
shone with an unaccustomed springtime brilliancy over Paris, and yet the
air was bracing and fit for endeavor of every sort. Yet the big reading
room tent of the Red Cross hotel in the Champs de Mars was completely
filled--with sailor boys or boys in khaki reading the books or paper
most liked by them. The sight astonished me. Could these boys--each on a
leave of but three short days--be blind to the wonders of Paris? Or was
their favorite author particularly alluring that week? I decided to ask
one of them about it.

"I saw Paris yesterday--Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Napoleon's Tomb, the
Opera House, the Louvre, the Follies--the whole blame business. It's
some hike. But I did it. An' to-day I'm perfectly satisfied to sit here
and read these guys a-telling of how they would have fought the war."

Of such was the nature of the American doughboy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just as it was necessary at Treves and Bordeaux and elsewhere--because
of the very volume of the problem--to separate his entertainment from
that of his officers, so it became necessary to effect a similar
solution in Paris; for the officer is quite as much a ward of our Red
Cross as the doughboy, himself. And so early in the solution of this
entire great problem a superb home in the very heart of Paris--the town
residence of the Prince of Monaco at No. 4 Avenue Gabriel and just a
step from the Place de la Concorde--was secured and set aside as an
American Red Cross Officers' Club. Lovely as this was, and seemingly
more than generous in its accommodations, these were soon overwhelmed by
the demands placed upon them, and steps were taken toward finding a
real officers' hotel for the men of the A. E. F. when they should come
to Paris.

These led to the leasing of the Hotel Louvre, at the head of the Avenue
de l'Opéra and almost adjoining the Comédie Française, the American
University Union, and the Louvre. After being rapidly redecorated and
otherwise transformed to meet the necessities of the A. E. F. it was
reopened on the sixth of January, 1919, as the American Officers' Hotel
in charge of Mr. L. M. Boomer, the directing genius of several large New
York hotels. Mr. Boomer brought to the Red Cross a great practical hotel
experience, and the house under his management quickly attained an
overwhelming success. It had, in the first instance, been charmingly
adapted to its new uses. Its rather stiff and old-fashioned interior had
been completely transformed; there was all through the building an
indefinable but entirely unmistakable home atmosphere. Our American
officers fairly reveled in it.

Into this setting was placed good operation--a high-grade
American-operated hotel, if you please, in the very heart of Paris and
all her stout traditions. _Petit déjeuners_ begone! They are indeed
starvation diet for a hungry Yank. The breakfast in the American
Officers' Hotel, which our Red Cross set up and operated, cost a uniform
five francs (one dollar) and had the substantial quality of a regular
up-and-doing tavern on this side of the Atlantic.

Before we rest, here are three typical bills of fare of a single
ordinary day in this A. R. C.-A. E. F. establishment. The day was the
nineteenth of April, 1919, and the three meals were as follows:

    BREAKFAST      Five Francs--($1.00).
    Quaker Oats
    Eggs and Bacon
    Griddle Cakes with Sirup
    Coffee, Cocoa, or Chocolate

    LUNCHEON Eight Francs--($1.60).
    Oyster Soup, with Okra
    Scollops of Veal, Dewey
    Nouilles, Milanaise
    Cold Meats, with Jelly
    Russian Salad
    Assorted Eclairs
    Raspberry Ice Cream

    DINNER Ten Francs--($2.00).
    Crème St. Cloud
    Rouget Portugaise
    Roasted Filet of Beef, Cresson
    Pommes Château
    Endive Flamandes
    Salade de Saison
    Candied Fruits
    Coffee Ice Cream

Yet the charm of the American Officers' Hotel in Paris rested not alone
in the real excellence of its cuisine, nor in the comfort of its cleanly
sleeping rooms. It carried its ideals of genuine service far beyond
these mere fundamentals. It recognized the almost universal Yankee
desire to have one's shoes shined in a shop and so set up a regular
American boot-blacking stand in one of its side corridors, a thing which
every other Parisian hotel would have told you was quite impossible of
accomplishment. It recognized the inconvenience of tedious waiting and
long queues at the box office of the Paris theaters by setting up a
theater ticket office in its lobby, which made no extra charge for the
distinct service rendered. Nor was there a charge for the services of
Miss Curtis, the charming little Red Cross girl, who went shopping with
a fellow or for him, and who had a knack of getting right into those
perplexing Paris shops and getting just what a fellow wanted at an
astonishingly low price--for Paris in war times, anyway. Her range of
experience was large; from the man with a silver star on each shoulder
who wanted to buy a modish evening gown for his wife at a price not to
exceed forty dollars, to the chunky Nevada lieutenant who had won three
thousand francs at "redeye" on the preceding evening and was anxious to
blow it all in the next morning in buying souvenirs for mother. With
both she did her best. Her motto was that of the successful shop keeper:
"We aim to please."

When Mr. Boomer had this hotel set up and running and turned his
attention to some other housing problems of our Red Cross, the
management fell to Major H. C. Eberhart, who had been his assistant in
Paris and before that had been affiliated in a managerial capacity with
several large American houses. He carried forward the job so well begun.

       *       *       *       *       *

With the slow but very sure movement of our doughboys back from eastern
France and Germany toward the base ports along the westerly rim of
France, where they were embarking in increasing numbers for the blessed
homeland, it became necessary for General Pershing to establish
concentration areas, or reservoir camps, well back from the Atlantic
Coast but convenient to it. By far the largest and most important of
these was in the neighborhood of the city of Le Mans, some one hundred
and fifty miles southwest of Paris, which meant in turn that what was
finally destined to be the largest of the canteens of our American Red
Cross in France outside of Paris was the final one established. It was
known as the American Red Cross Casual Canteen and, situated within
three blocks to the east of the railroad station at Le Mans, was a
genuine headquarters for all the American soldiers for ten or fifteen or
twenty miles roundabout. And in the bare chance that there might not be
a doughboy who had chanced to hear of it, it was well indicated--by day,
by a huge sign of the crimson cross, and by night that emblem blazing
forth in all the radiance of electricity.

When the doors were finally opened--about the middle of March,
1919--there were sleeping quarters under its hospitable roof for 250
enlisted men and forty officers. In the canteen portion of the
establishment, 200 men could be served at a single sitting; in all 500
at each of the three meals a day. The comforts of this place almost
approximated those of a hotel. When the men rose from their beds in the
morning--clean sheets and towels and pillowcases, of course, even though
it did mean that the Red Cross had to establish its own laundry in the
establishment--they could step, quickly and easily, into a commodious
washroom and indulge, if they so chose, in a shower bath. Eighteen
showers were installed--for their convenience. It represented the acme
of Red Cross service.

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally the beginning of the end for the average doughboy in
France--that long anticipated and seemingly never-arriving day of
departure in the troopship for home.

Our Red Cross was down to see him off when he sailed. It might have been
from Brest or Bordeaux or St. Nazaire that he took his departure--or
from some one of the lesser ports that were used to a greater or less
extent. That made no difference to the American Red Cross. It was part
of its job to be on hand whenever and wherever the boy of the A. E. F.
sailed for home--whether it was Brest or Vladivostok or Southampton or

As a matter of real and actual fact, Brest was the most used of all the
embarkation ports for the journey home. It boasted what was sometimes
called "the most beautiful canteen in France" which had been builded by
our Red Cross, with the generous help of the army engineers. It
immediately adjoined the embarkation sheds, and night and day in the
months that followed the signing of the armistice, it was supremely
busy--serving the inevitable cigarettes, doughnuts, chocolate, and other
hot drinks. An interesting and extremely valuable adjunct to the place
was a bakery, with a capacity of twenty thousand buns a day.

The enlisted men's rest room, with its bright hangings and draperies,
its cartoons of army life painted upon its wall panels, its big
fireplace, its comfortable settees, lounging chairs, and tables supplied
with games, magazines, and writing material, held especial attraction
for the doughboys. In all the mud and grime of the dirty _Port du
Commerce_ it was the one cheery and homelike place.

       *       *       *       *       *

I told in an earlier chapter of the American Red Cross canteen at
Bassens, just across the Gironde from Bordeaux. It is enough to add here
and now that this American-builded port with its mile-long Yankee timber
pier at which seven great ships might be berthed simultaneously,
discharging or loading cargoes, never justified its worth half so much
as in the days after the armistice. Thomas Kane's coffee attained a new
perfection while Miss Susanne Wills, the Chicago woman who was
directress of the canteen on the pier, and her fellow workers made
renewed efforts to see that the boys that passed through the canteen had
every conceivable comfort--and then some others. I, myself, spent a half
day questioning them as to these. The verdict to the questionings was
unanimous. It generally came in the form of a grin or a nod of the head,
sometimes merely in a pointing gesture to the crimson-crossed comfort
bag, that the big and blushing doughboy carried hung upon his wrist.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the sick boy, going homeward bound from all the ports, very special
comfort provisions were made--and rightly so. All of these last passed
through the Red Cross infirmaries on the embarkation docks. As each went
over the gangway he was questioned as to his equipment. If he was short
a mess kit or a cup, a fork, a knife, a spoon or a blanket, the
deficiency was promptly met; in addition to which each boy was given a
pair of flannel pajamas and the inevitable comfort bag, with its
toothbrush, tooth paste, wash cloth, bar of soap, and two packages of
cigarettes. Books and magazines also went upon each troopship, while
Red Cross nurses accompanied the boys on to the ships and saw them
safely settled in the hospital wards.

No mere cataloging of the work of our Red Cross in the embarkation ports
can ever really begin to tell the story of the fullness of its service
there. Charts of organization, details of operations, pictures of the
surroundings go just so far, but never quite far enough to tell of the
heart interest that really makes service anywhere and everywhere. Such
service the American Red Cross rendered all across the face of
France--and nowhere with more strength and enthusiasm than in those
final moments of the doughboy which awaited him before his start home.
Have I not already told you that our Red Cross over there was not a
triumph of organization--or anything like it? It was a big job--and with
big mistakes. But the bigness of the things accomplished so far
outweighed the mistakes that they can well be forgotten; the tremendous
net result of real achievement set down immutably and indisputably as a
real triumph of our American individualism.



On the ship that bore me from New York to Europe in the first week of
December, 1918, there were many war workers--and of many sorts and
varieties. We had men and women of the Y. M. C. A., of the Y. W. C. A.,
of the Jewish Welfare Board, of the Knights of Columbus--and twenty-five
women of the American Red Cross. And so, in the close-thrown intimacy of
shipboard, one had abundant opportunity to study this personnel at
rather short range, and the fact that our ship, which had been builded
for South African traffic rather than for that of the North Atlantic,
nearly foundered in mid ocean only served to increase the opportunity.

There were women war workers of nearly every age and variety in that
motley ship's company. There were school-teachers--one from Portland,
Maine, and another from Portland, Oregon--stenographers, clerks, women
of real social distinction, professional women, including a well-known
actress or two, and girls so recently out of finishing school or college
that they had not yet attained their full places in the sun. Few of them
had known one another before they had embarked upon the ship; there was
a certain haziness of understanding in many of their minds as to the
exact work that was to be allotted to them overseas. A large percentage
of the women, in fact, had never before crossed the Atlantic; a goodly
number had not even seen salt water before this voyage. Yet with all
this uncertainty there was no timidity--no, not even when the great
December storm arose, and with the fullness of its fury lashed itself
into a hurricane the like of which our captain, who had crossed the
ocean a hundred times or more, had not seen. And when the fury of this
storm had crashed in the cabin windows, had torn the wheelhouse away,
had set the stout ship awash and the passengers to bailing, the courage
and serenity of these American women remained undisturbed. They suffered
great personal discomforts, yet complained not. And with our national
felicity for an emergency organization--that sort of organization really
is part and parcel of our individualism--relieved the steward's crew at
night and cooked and served the Sabbath supper.

There were women in uniform on our ship whose mouths were tightly shut
in the grim determination of service--one could fairly see "Z-E-A-L"
written in unmistakable letters upon their high foreheads--and there
were girls who fretted about the appearance of the curls under the edges
of their small service caps and who coquetted with the young British
aviators returning home after service as instructors on the flying
fields here in the United States. Between these extremes there was vast
range and variety. But the marvelous part of it all was that all of
them--each after her own creed or fashion, for the dominating quality of
our individualism multiplies geometrically in the case of our American
womanhood--ranged true to any test that might be put upon them. The
storm showed that. I did not have the personal opportunity of seeing the
Red Cross girls in battle service; but I did see them in the canteens in
the hard, hard months that followed the signing of the armistice, saw
them in the wards and the recreation huts of hospital after hospital,
saw them, too, in Paris headquarters, working under very difficult
conditions of light and ventilation--living of every sort--and at manual
or office work or humdrum dreariness. The girl in uniform who sat all
day in a poorly lighted and aired room at a typewriter or a filing case
had a far less dramatic or poetic job than the traditional Red Cross
girl who stands at a battlefield canteen or in a hospital ward holding
the hand of some good-looking--and perhaps marriageable--young captain
or colonel. Yet her service was as real as uncomplaining and--for the
reasons we have just seen--vastly more difficult.

None of the women's work over there was easy--the romantic girl who went
to France lured on by the dream pictures of some artist-illustrator as
to the dramatic phases of canteen or hospital work was quickly
disillusionized. The real thing was vastly different from the picture. A
dirty and unshaven doughboy in bed or standing in a long queue waiting
for his cigarettes or chocolate, and speaking Polish or Yiddish when he
came to them, was a far, far different creature from the young wounded
officer of the picture who must have been an F. F. V. or at least from one
of the first families of Baltimore or Philadelphia. And the hours! They
were fearfully hard--to put it lightly. Eight, ten, or twelve hours at a
stretch was a pretty good and exhausting test of a girl's vitality. Nor
was this all of the job, either. Many and many a woman worker of the Red
Cross or, for that matter, the Y. M. C. A., too, has stood eight or ten
or twelve hours on her feet in a canteen and then has ridden twenty or
thirty miles in a truck or camionette to an army dance, has danced three
or four or five more hours with soldier boys who, even if they do not
happen to be born dancers, do covet the attention and interest of decent
girls, and has returned to only a few hours of sleep, before the long
turn in the canteen once again. And has repeated this performance four
or five times a week. For what? Because she was crazy for dancing? Not a
bit of it. For of a truth they became sick of dancing--"fed up" is the
phrase they frequently used when they spoke of it at all.

"I feel as if I never wanted to hear an orchestra again," one of them
told me one day as I stopped at her canteen--in a French town close to
the occupied territory. "But I have four dates already for next week and
three for the week after. Another month of this sort of thing and I
shall be a fit candidate for a rolling chair."

"Why do you do it?" I ventured.

"Why do I do it?" she repeated. "The boys need us. Have you noticed the
kind of girls that drift up here from Paris? If you have, you will
understand why my job is unending, why it only pauses for a very little
while indeed at night, when I jump into my bed for six or seven hours of
well-earned sleep."

I understood. I had spent an evening in the grand boulevards of Paris
and had watched a "Y" girl, under the escort of a member of the American
Military Police, save foolish doughboys and their still more foolish
officers--from themselves. In a few minutes after ten o'clock that
evening an overcrowded hotel of one of our largest American war-relief
organizations had regretfully turned away sixteen of our soldiers and in
this time there were fifteen French girls waiting to give the
hospitality that the sadly overburdened hotel had been compelled to
refuse them. No wonder that our Red Cross was forced into the building
of the great Tent City there on the Champs de Mars. As these French
girls of the Paris streets came up to the doughboys the job of the "Y"
girl began. In a few more minutes she had convinced the boys that it was
not too late to give up hope of securing lodgings in overcrowded Paris;
and was quick with her suggestions as to where they might be found. It
was not a pleasant job. I hardly can imagine one more unpleasant. But
the girl had her reward, in the looks of gratitude which the doughboys
gave her. One or two of them cried like babies.

       *       *       *       *       *

This was an unusual job to be sure. But our American Red Cross also was
filled with unusual jobs for women as well as for men; jobs that took
not merely endurance and courage, but in many, many cases rare wit and
tact and diplomacy, and these were rarely lacking, and sometimes came
where they were least expected.

I am not all anxious to over-glorify these women. It would hardly be
fair; for, after all, they were very human indeed--witness one young
widow on our ship to Europe who not merely confessed but actually
boasted that she had received three proposals of marriage upon that
stormy voyage. And one little secretary girl from the Middle West, who
was of our ship's company, wanted to be a canteen worker, although she
was specifically enrolled for the office work for which she was
particularly qualified, but when she found that the canteen to which she
was to be assigned was located in a lonely railroad junction town in the
middle of France, demanded that she be sent to Coblenz, where the Army
of Occupation had its headquarters; she said quite frankly that she did
not want to be robbed of all her opportunities of meeting the nice young
officers of the army. She was very human, that young secretary, and
eventually she got to Coblenz. Insistence counts. And she was both
insistent and consistent.

But at the Rhine her lot, oddly enough, was not thrown in with officers
but with the doughboys--the enlisted men of our most amazing army. She
fed them, walked with them, danced with them, wrote their letters, and
finally began to understand. And so slowly but surely came to the
fullness of her real value to the country that she served.

One evening she dined in the Y. W. C. A. hostess house at Coblenz with two
of these boys. Left alone, she would have dined by herself. She was
tired, very tired. There comes the hour when a woman worker wearies a
bit at sight of a ceaseless file of chattering and khaki-clad men. And
so when she seated herself in one of the little dining booths of the
"Y. W." restaurant, it was with a silent prayer that she might be left
alone--just that evening. Her prayer was not granted. A big doughboy
came and sat down beside her, another across the narrow table from her.
The second vouched for the first.

"You will like Hank," said he. "He's one of the livest in the whole
First Division. He's from Waco, Texas, and say, he's the best gambler in
the whole army."

At which Hank grinned and produced a huge wad of ten and twenty and
fifty and hundred franc notes from his hip pocket.

"Don't you let him string you, Miss Tippitoes," said he, "but if ever
you get where you need a little spare change you know where your Uncle
Hank is to be found."

He called her "Miss Tippitoes" because he could not remember her real
name even if ever it had been given to him. But he had danced with her
and watched her dance, and marveled. And well might he have marveled.
For if I were to give you Miss Tippitoes' real name you might know it as
the name of the most graceful and popular dancer in a fashionable suburb
of Chicago.

Hank edged closer to her. It was in the crowded restaurant, so he took
off his coat and unbuttoned his blouse, as well as the upper buttons of
his undershirt. And Tippitoes stood for it--it was a part of her job and
she knew it--while Hank leaned closer to her and confided some of his
troubles--they were troubles common to so many of the doughboys.

"It's a dump that we're billeted in, miss," said he, "and it's all the
fault of our colonel--him and that Red Cross girl he's stuck on. Just
because he's got a mash on her he had the regiment moved in to G----.
But I've got his number. And as for her--why, that girl comes from my
home town. I've got hers, too."

Tippitoes' eyes blazed. She could have lost her temper so easily. It is
not difficult when one is fagged and nerves begin to get on edge, but
she kept her patience.

"Don't be foolish, young man," said she, "otherwise somebody will have
to take the trouble to tell you that a colonel does not locate his
regiment. He has no more to say about where you shall all be billeted
than you yourselves. And as for the Red Cross girl, she is in the same
position. Moreover, your remark is not worthy of an American
soldier--and a gentleman."

There was something in the way she said these things--no type may ever
put in upon paper--that, in the language of the motion-picture world,
"registered." In a little time Hank was ashamed of himself, and with the
innate generosity of his big, uncouth heart, apologized--like a
gentleman and an American soldier.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ofttimes, even though with the American Army women were not permitted to
go very close to the front line, the job of the Red Cross girl was
fraught with much real danger. The air raid was too frequent and too
deadly a visitor not to have earned an awsome respect for itself. The
tooth marks of Big Bertha still show all too plainly as horrid scars
across the lovely face of Paris--the beauty of the world. The _boche_,
as we all very well know, did not stop his long-distance warfare from
the air even at the sight of the roofs which bore crimson crosses and so
signified that they were hospitals and, under every condition of
civilization and humanity, exempt from attack. The story of these
hospital raids, with their casualty lists, not merely of American boys
already sick and wounded, but of the wounding and killing of the men and
women who were laboring to give them life and comfort, is already a
well-known fact of record; yet even this was not all. Death never seemed
far away in those hard months of 1917 and 1918, and Death was no
respecter, either of persons or of uniforms or of sex. Upon the honor
roll of our Red Cross there are the names of twenty-three American
women, other than nurses, who made the supreme sacrifice for their

The experiences of the Red Cross girls in the air raids were as many and
varied as the girls themselves. That of a canteen worker at Toul was
fairly typical. She had been over at the neighboring city of Nancy to
aid in one of the innumerable soldiers' dances which had been given
there. In the middle of the dance it had suddenly occurred to her chum
and herself that neither had eaten since morning. A young lieutenant had
taken them to a very good little restaurant in the great Place Stanislas
that all through the hard days of the war held to a long-time reputation
of real excellence, and had insisted that they order a dinner of
generous proportions.

Yet before their soup had been fairly served an air raid was upon them.
The roar of the planes and the rattle of cannonading were continuous.
Every light in the place went out instantly, and because the proprietor
insisted even then in keeping his shades and shutters tightly drawn the
place was inky black.

"What did you do?" I asked her.

"What did we do? We went ahead and ate our dinner. It was the best thing
we could do. I realized for the first time in my life the real handicaps
of the blind. I don't see how they ever learn to eat fried chicken

       *       *       *       *       *

In an earlier chapter I told of the remarkable work done by the Smith
College girls at the crux of the great German drive. It was impossible
in that chapter to tell all of the sacrifice and the devotion shown by
these women--the most of them from five to fifteen years out of college,
although one of the best of them was from the class of 1882 and still
another from that of 1917. "We were an unbaked crew," one of them
admitted quite frankly to me.

Miss Elizabeth Bliss was typical of these college girls. A long time
after Château-Thierry they were all working behind the lines in the
Argonne, Miss Bliss herself in charge of a sanitary train for the Red
Cross from the railhead back to the base hospital. It was part of her
job to work up to midnight and then be called at three o'clock in the
morning to see the four o'clock train start off with its wounded. On
one of those October mornings, when the weather was a little worse than
usual, if that could be possible, she exerted a perfectly human
privilege and decided not to get up.

But no sooner had this decision been made than the still, small voice
spoke to her.

"Can you afford to miss even one day?" it said to her.

"I'm all in. I just can't get up," she replied to the S. S. V.

"Can you afford to miss--even one day?" it repeated.

She got up and dressed and made her way down in the rain to the waiting
train. As she went into the long hospital car a wounded doughboy raised
himself on one elbow and shouted to all his fellows:

"Hi, fellows, I told you that a Red Cross girl would be here, and here
she is. I told you she'd come."

"Just think if I hadn't," says Miss Bliss in telling of this incident.

       *       *       *       *       *

When life back of the front was not dangerous or dramatic, it was apt to
be plain dreary. There is not usually much drama just in hard work. Take
once again the case of Miss Mary Vail Andress, whom we found in charge
of the canteen at Toul. Miss Andress came to France on the twenty-fourth
of August, 1917, one of a group of seven Red Cross women, the first of
the American Red Cross women to be sent over. The other members of the
party were Mrs. Dickens, Mrs. Lawrence, Miss Frances Mitchell (who was
sent to the newly opened canteen at Épernay), Miss Rogers, Miss Andrews,
and Miss Frances Andrews, and were immediately dispatched to Châlons.
For a short time Miss Andress was the assistant of Henry Wise Miller,
who was then in charge of canteen work in France. She, however, enlisted
for canteen work and so asked Mr. Miller to be allowed to go into the
field and was sent to Épernay. From there she went back to Paris and on
to Chantilly, where she prepared a home for girls in canteen work. She
came to Toul in January, 1918, and, as you already know, was the first
woman worker to reach that important American Army headquarters.

"For a while it seemed as if I could never quite get down to the real
job," she says, "it seemed so often that something new broke loose and
always just at the wrong time. While we were working to get the first
canteen established here at Toul--we had a nurses' club in mind at the
time--word came from the hospital over there back of the hill that the
Red Cross was needed there to help prepare for the comfort of the nurses
in that big place. I went there at once--of course. Within fifteen
minutes after I got there I was hanging curtains in the girls'
barracks--couldn't you trust a woman to do a job like that? I did not
get very many hung. Captain Hugh Pritchitt, my chief, came bursting in
upon me. 'They're here,' he shouted.

"I knew what that meant. 'They' were the first of our American wounded,
and they must have comfort and help and immediate attention. They got
it. It was part of our job, you know. And after that part was organized
there was nothing to it but to come back to Toul and set up our chain of
canteens there."

And you already know how very well that particular war job was done. And
doing it involved much devotion and endurance and self-sacrifice, not
only on the part of the directress, but on that of her staff of capable

Talk about devotion and endurance and self-sacrifice! Into the desolate
ruin of the war-racked city of Rheims there walked last October two
American Red Cross women on a sight-seeing trip. They had had months of
hard canteen work and were well tired out, and were about to return
home. In a week or so of leave they went to Rheims because that once
busy city with its dominating cathedral has become the world's new
Pompeii. And the man or woman who visits France without seeing it has
missed seeing the one thing of almost supreme horror and interest in the
world to-day.

The two Red Cross women had but a single day to see Rheims. That was
last October. They still are there; for back of the ruins, back of the
gaunt, scarred hulk of that vast church which was once the pride of
France, and to-day the symbol of Calvary through which she had just
passed, there rose the question in their minds: what has become of the
folk of this town? It was the sort of question that does not down. Nor
were the two women--one is Miss Emily Bennet of the faculty of a
fashionable girls' school in New York and the other Miss Catherine
Biddle Porter of Philadelphia--the sort that close their souls to
questions such as these.

They found the answer. It was in the basement of the commercial high
school--a dreary, high-ceilinged place, but because of its comparatively
modern construction of steel and brick a sort of _abri_ or bombproof
refuge for the three or four hundred citizens that stuck it out through
the four years of horror. In that basement place of safety an aged
school-teacher of the town, Mademoiselle Fourreaux, month in and month
out, prepared two meals a day--bread and soup--for the group of refugees
that gathered round about her and literally kept the heart of Rheims
abeat. The Red Cross women found this aged heroine--she confesses to
having turned seventy--working unaided, and within the hour were working
with her, sending word back to Paris to send up a few necessary articles
of comfort and of clothing. That night they slept in Rheims, and were
billeted in a house whose windows had been crudely replaced with oiled
paper and whose roof was half gone.

In a short time relief came to them. The American Red Cross
sent in other supplies and workers and established a much
larger and finer canteen relief in another section of the town. Other
organizations--French and British and American--poured in relief; but
Miss Bennett and Miss Porter stuck it out, and soon began to reap the
fruit of their great endeavors.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have cited here a few instances of women who have gone
overseas--frequently at great personal sacrifices--to help bear the
burden of the war. If space had permitted I might easily have given five
hundred, and each of them would have had its own personal little
dramatic story. I might simply tell of some of the women whom I have met
on the job; of Miss Lucy Duhring of Philadelphia, setting up the women's
work of the Y. M. C. A. in the leave areas of the occupied territory; of
a girl superintendent of schools from Kansas, working in the hospital
records for the Red Cross at Toul; of another girl from
Kingston-on-Hudson running a big Y. W. C. A. hotel for army girls in Paris
and running it mighty well; of still another woman--this one a welfare
worker from a big industrial plant in Kansas City--as the guiding spirit
in the hostess house at Coblenz. The list quickly spins to great
lengths. It is a tremendously embracing one, and when one gazes at it,
he begins to realize what effect this great adventure overseas is going
to have upon the lives of the women who participated in it; how it is
going to change the conventions of life, or its amenities, or its
opportunities. How will the weeks and months of camaraderie with
khaki-clad men, under all conditions and all circumstances affect them?
Many of the silly conventionalities of ordinary life and under ordinary
conditions of peace, have, of necessity, been thrown away over there.
Men and women have made long trips together, in train or in motor car,
and have thought or made nothing of it whatever. On the night train up
from Aix-les-Bains to Paris on one of those never-to-be-forgotten nights
the autumn the conflict still raged, two girls of the A. E. F. found it
quite impossible to obtain seats of any sort. Four or five marines, back
from a short leave in a little town near there, did the best they could
for them and with their blankets and dunny rolls rigged crude beds for
them in the aisle of a first-class car, and there the girls rode all
night to Paris while the marines stood guard over them.

The gray-uniformed woman war-worker knows that she may trust the
American soldier. Her experience with the doughboy has been large and so
her tribute to the high qualities of his manhood is of very real value.
Moreover, she too, has seen real service, both in canteen work and in
the still more important leave area work which has followed--this last
the great problem of keeping the idle soldier healthily amused.

"I have known our girls," she will tell you, "to go into a miserable
little French or German town filled with a thousand or twelve hundred
American boys in khaki and in a day change the entire spirit of that
community. There has been a dance one night, for instance, with the boys
restless and trying stupidly to dance with one another, or in some
cases, even bringing in the rough little village girls from the streets
outside. But the next dance has seen a transformation. The girls of the
A. E. F. have come, they are dancing with the men; there is cheer and
decency in the very air, there are neither French nor German
present--the place is American.

"You have told of what the American girl has been to the men of our
army; let me tell, in a word, what the army has been to the American
woman who has worked with it: We have trusted our enlisted men in khaki
and not once found that trust misplaced. Night and day have we placed
our honor in their hands and never have trusted in vain."

"The reason why?" we venture.

"The mothers of America," is the quick reply.

I know what she means. I have read letter after letter written by the
doughboys to the mothers back here, and the mass of them still stay in
my mind as a tribute that all but surpasses description. Some of them
misspelled; many of them ungrammatical--where have our schools been
these last few years?--a few of them humorous, a few pathetic, but all
of them breathing a sentiment and a tenderness that makes me willing to
call ours the sentimental as well as the amazing army. Add to these
letters the verbal testimony of the boys to the women of their army.

"We're not doing much," one after another has said, "but say, you ought
to see my mother on the job back home. She's the one that's turning the

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a large experiment sending women with our army overseas--in the
minds of many a most dubious experiment. In no other war had an army
ever had women enrolled with it, save possibly a few nurses. It is an
experiment which, so far as the United States is concerned, has more
than justified itself. Our women have been tried in France--in other
European lands as well--and have not been found wanting; which is a very
faint way, indeed, of trying to tell of a great accomplishment. For if
the American soldier, through many months of test and trial--and test
and trial that by no means were confined to the battlefield--has kept
his body clean and his soul pure through the virtue of woman which has
been spread about him through the guarded years of his home life, how
about the virtue of the women that, clad in the uniform of our Red Cross
and the other war-relief organizations, guarded him successfully when he
was far away from home? There is but one answer to such a question, but
one question to follow after that. Here it is: Is it fair to longer
consider such a real accomplishment a mere experiment? I think not. I
think that it is rather to be regarded as a real triumph of our


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious errors of punctuation and diacritical marking have been

Hyphen removed: over[-]burdened (p. 160), soup[-]kitchen (pp. 146-7),
team[-]work (p. 23).

Hyphen added: post[-]office (p. 246), to[-]day (p. 288).

The text uses "coöperation", "coördination", etc. consistently, except
when hyphenated, where "co-operation", "co-ordination", etc. are used.
With the removal of the hyphenation, these have been changed to use the
diaeresis everywhere.

P. 9: "plaîl" changed to "s'il vous plaît" (s'il vous plaît).

Pp. 10, 222: "embrochure" changed to "embouchure" (the Seine embouchure,
the embouchure of the Loire).

P. 28: "civilan" changed to "civilian" (military and affairs).

P. 29: "obtainalbe" changed to "obtainable" (were not readily

P. 30: "Agriculture" changed to "Argiculture".

P. 36: added "a" (without a coördinated system).

P. 49: duplicate "the" removed (the main stems).

P. 49: "sizeable" changed to "sizable" (fifty-five sizable trucks).

P. 52: "similiar" changed to "similar" (a few similar trifles).

P. 55: "their" changed to "there" (there is nothing light).

P. 62: added "it" (but if it had lasted two weeks).

P. 71: "carrry" changed to "carry" (As it was impossible to carry).

P. 72: "dack" changed to "back" (After that we drove back).

P. 92: "Quai de la Lorie" changed to "Quai de la Loire".

P. 97: "a" added (so to prepare a proper system).

P. 98: "Salt Park" changed to "Salt Pork".

P. 107: "authorites" changed to "authorities" (the French authorities).

P. 107: missing "t" replaced (keep down the buoyant spirit).

P. 117: "whatsover" changed to "whatsoever" (is no railroad whatsoever).

P. 118: "spall" changed to "shall" (I shall speak to the railway

P. 118: added "a" (within a stone's throw).

P. 122: "exquistite" changed to "exquisite" (its exquisite cathedral).

P. 124: "pastboard" changed to "pasteboard" (a sizable pasteboard box).

P. 126: "geen" changed to "been" (the vines had been growing).

P. 131: "Colombes-la-Belles" changed to "Colombes-les-Belles".

P. 147: "ofter" changed to "after" (case after case).

P. 149: "opportunites" changed to "opportunities" (seek out the

P. 157: "troup" changed to "troupe" (a troupe of seventeen girls).

P. 165: "tubes" changed to "cubes" (bouillon cubes from a stock).

P. 171: "Mareieul" changed to "Mareuil".

P. 220: "atrractiveness" changed to "attractiveness" (great

P. 225: "to" changed to "too" (that passed none too quickly).

P. 236: "Neaves" changed to "Mesves".

P. 246: "men" changed to "women" (the efforts of these women).

P. 259: missing "t" replaced (the ebb tide of American troops).

P. 262: "placed" changed to "place" (the vast placed packed to the
very doors).

P. 266: "procelain" changed to "porcelain" (white porcelain pitcher).

P. 273: "Beet" changed to "Beef" (Roasted Filet of Beef).

P. 284: "of" added (the job of the Red Cross girl).

P. 284: "respector" changed to "respecter" (Death was no respecter).

P. 286: "wark" changed to "work" (just in hard work).

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