IN THEIR OWN WORDS ...
Time Frame: Arriving thru Preparing for Battle
Mid 1917 - Early 1918
AT LAFAYETTE'S TOMB
JULY 4, 1917
PARIS WELCOMES THE AEFLAFAYETTE -- WE ARE HERE !
The Fourth [July 4, 1917] is declared a holiday ... Red, white and
blue pennants are strung across the streets. Shops are alive with
bunting. Everyone is gathering along the streets to witness the
parade, all dressed in their best.
The parade starts, led by a representative detail of English and
French troops. Next comes several thousand negro stevedores and then
the Engineers followed by ambulances, YMCA, etc... "Vive L'Amerique!
Vive L'Amerique!" is shouted.
The applause increases. We approach the reviewing stand. "Eyes
Right!" We are passing General [Pershing] who stands at ease watching
with a critical eye. The guests on the reviewing stand remain at
attention. The officers present arms and salute smartly. The
brilliant uniforms of the Naval and French Officers contrasts sharply
with the plain U.S. olive drab.
Pvt. Otis E. Briggs, 1st Division
Unpublished Manuscript, A COMMON SOLDIER
LATER THE SAME DAY, GENERAL PERSHING WOULD ASK A STAFF OFFICER TO SPEAK AT LAFAYETTE'S TOMB
I regret I cannot speak to the good people of France in the
beautiful language of their own fair country.
The fact cannot be forgotten that your nation was our friend when
America was struggling for existence, when a handful of brave and
patriotic people were determined to uphold the rights their Creator
gave them -- that France in the person of Lafayette came to our aid in
words and deed.
It would be ingratitude not to remember this and America defaults
Therefore it is with loving pride we drape the colors in tribute
of respect to this citizen of your great Republic, and here and now in
the shadow of the illustrious dead we pledge our hearts and our
honor in carrying this war to successful issue.
Captain Charles E. Stanton, GHQ
PREPARING FOR BATTLE
Early Observations on the American Expeditionary Force, the AEF,
By French and British Officers:
"The Americans give high hopes."
"They have none of the persistent coldness of the English"
"They are straightforward and look you in the eye."
"Even when he is not as strong as his opponent he doesn't back off."
"All Americans are characterized by an extremely developed national pride and a very great spirit of independence."
"The Americans realize they've got a lot to learn but don't want anyone to tell them so. They are obsessed with open warfare ... [But] they simply have no idea of the intensity of fire."
"Wherever the Americans have been everything is filthy."
"12 January l918 - My general impression is that America's power to help us to win the war - that is to help us to defeat the Germans in battle is a very weak reed to lean upon at present...
Official records and the article, THE AEF THROUGH FRENCH EYES, by Lee Kennett
....Last night the town in which I was staying had a little bombardment from the Boche. I stayed in bed, very comfortably, until a big shell took the roof off the house across the street. Then, I concluded that my building stuck up in too prominent a fashion and beat it for the cellar ... which was occupied when I got there.
Lt. Col. Phillip van Cise, 81st Division
Searching for Cooties
As for pleasure around here there isn't much except reading your
shirt, which means to look it over for cooties [lice]. An as for
rats, they are the size of a five-year old tom cat. You can't scare
them. They crawl all over your bunks, and if you knock them down they
just come right back again. If the Boche had as much nerve as the
rats or trench rabbits as we call them, we certainly would have a time
Pvt. William Bishop Jr., USMC, 2nd Division
I went thru the 'tear gas' and "chlorine gas' chambers one afternoon. A couple of Tommies took me in to the shanty which was filled with tear gas. I stood it for about 30 seconds until the water literally flowed out of my eyes and the smart was terrible. This gas is used in shells and blinds one temporarily; permanently if strong enough. Gas masks are tested in this chamber. The wearer is sent thru and his eyes examined after emerging. If there are no tears in his eyes, the mask is allright. The chlorine gas chamber was a long passageway about 60 ft long. Clouds of chlorine vapor were spouting from a pipe at one end and drifting towards us. We held our breath and ran for the other end. When I came out I had enough gas in my nose and lungs to kill a cat. The stuff grips one and causes stomach sickness and choking.
Pvt. Hazen S. Helmrich
3rd Army Hospital/Base Hospital 17
I am back at the company base for two days rest, after which I'm going forward again. I am dead tired but, we are learning fast. The circumstances won't permit ones not learning. When gas comes over, for instance, we have learned that there are just two kinds of people, the quick and the dead...
Lt. Ken Gow, 27th Division
I woke up during the night and found, or rather heard, three noises. A Boche bombing plane overhead, a rat gnawing industriously under my bunk, and my bunkie Cramblett snoring terrifically. I couldn't describe which noise was most annoying.
Sgt. Edwin Gerth, 51st Artillery
Horses Made a Big Contribution to the AEF
I reported to my CO, Col. Earl Briscoe, and the first thing he asked me was, what branch of the service I had served with and I informed him that I was a calvaryman. He said, "Thank God for that. There are my horses, knee deep in the mud at Essey; you take charge of them. Your orders are my orders. I never saw a *&%#* horse before and I hope that I never see another *%#*& horse!" So that was my job.
Lt. Col. Joseph Choate King, 89th Division
I am still in the hospital (after being mustard gassed). Yesterday I thought I could get out today but I have had another relapse and my left hand is a mass of blister. It doesn't hurt a bit but it itches something fierce... so I am reconciled to staying here.
In general, I am making fine progress. My mouth and eyes are pretty nearly well and I can sleep fine now. There is so much new skin all over me that I hardly know myself. Externally at least I am an entirely new man. And thank God I can smoke again.
Lt. James Service, Chemical Warfare Service
(Lt. Service had been accidentally gassed at an allied gas factory.)
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