Sunday, November 29, 2015

Part II: Mudder's World War I diary

July 27, 1918, Saturday
Breakfast at 5am, can you beat it. Just an hour of so with Peany, my but I hate to see him go; but he promised to see me in Southampton tonight. We rode eight hours on a train, and so different from ours, four in a compartment. We were given a ration in the boat; we are to eat it for lunch, coffee served at Birmingham, with our sugar. We arrive at the Southampton hotel just in time for dinner. Goldie and I started out for a walk, got the funniest looking trolley, had trouble about money, some of the English don’t want to take our American money, others great for it. Goldie happened to have three pennies, which was enough. We were afraid we would have to walk back but we met two majors, not the one I wanted to meet though. We took a taxi ride got back about ten thirty. Met two Lieutenants of the 346 Artillery, had some ginger ale and took another taxi ride.

July 28, Sunday
Peany said he was very angry with me, I don’t know whether he meant it or not, he acted angry anyhow, he came around about ten thirty this am, stayed about an hour and a half. He left for France today. Saw him flying by in a large car he waved. Goldie said I sure was acting funny, I did feel rather blue. Went to bed about 930pm, homesick, the first time since I had left the states.

July 29, Monday
Goldie and I went shopping in Southampton today, bought some stationary and found some wonderful candy. We thought we should leave today, forty of the girls did go; but I am doomed for another night. To bed early again after we had some cake and ginger ale.

July 30, Tuesday
We have been getting up very late, eating breakfast at 10am, my that will never do. Up town again, went in an old church that is 1,000 years old, the second oldest in England. Surely was antique looking. We also went to Tudor Hall, lots of old curios that were mighty interesting. The most beautiful garden you ever saw. Rushed home to dinner and heard the good news, we are to leave at 3pm, thank goodness. We rushed around packed our suitcases, and ran back up town again, there we met two strange US officers who were so glad to see some American people. We told them we were going in to buy a diary book and some stationary. They insisted on going along and treated us to the purchases, which was so sweet of them. We got on a hospital ship at Southampton, only nine state rooms, so 31 of us had Ward A, a great large room with lots of beds in it. We had to be in bed at nine thirty but before going we donned our life belts and had a drill. We were quite used to them at this time. I did not sleep much, the channel was not rough but the ship seemed to tilt so much and the pillows, were they hard; I should say so.

July 31, Wednesday
4am, some man poked his head in our window and told us we had arrived safely. We were anchored out until 2pm. Such a dry old trip, one man on board and he married. Me, Goldie, Miss Kaufman, and Miss Monroe played 500 all morning. Reached Havre at 330pm, and mighty glad to see the place. We were received by American officers, put in great large US trucks and escorted to another hotel (“Moderne”), this life is so tiresome. Goldie and I were given a room alone; we rushed out then for a stroll. Lots of Americans here, and they never pass without speaking or saluting, oh it is so good to meet your own people and they are all so pleasant. On our way back we met Major Pesego, he insisted on us having something to drink, chairs and tables are all out in front of the hotel enclosed with shrubbery, rather nice looking too. Well I took ginger ale, whether the Major played a joke on me or not, I would not drink; it tasted so queer. We then took a ride, not in a machine, gas is very difficult to get, but we had a one-horse vehicle, only out an hour, rather nice ride, home in time for dinner. Nothing exciting happened at night, it is 9pm, I am blue so will retire; I heard the 346 had left Havre the day before, how disappointing.

Thursday August 1, 1918
What an exciting night, awakened at 1am by the falling of bombs. Was I scared, I should say. The first time Havre had ever had an air raid. The French people were all running for the stairs, I could not make anyone understand me, I told Goldie I thought we were supposed to go to the first floor, we found our kimonos and slippers, did not take time to put them on, and we ran down stairs, could not find one American person, and oh such a dark place. We remained down for about an hour. I don’t think we had much sleep afterwards. Was delighted to see daybreak, that was our first experience with bombs, I am sure there are a great many ahead of us. We all left the hotel in large trucks, on arriving at the station, we were put six in a compartment, given a ration for the following day consisting of canned tomatoes, salmon, beans and jam, we had white bread which was a treat. We did not sleep very well that night, as we had no berths, and we arrived in Paris at 5am. We only remained there two hours.

August 2, 1918
We went to the American Red Cross in Paris and they gave us coffee, bread and cheese. It tasted very good and then we got on another train and had a very pleasant journey nearly every station we met a lot of American boys and also a great many in cars along the road. We played 500 all morning, tried to take a nap in the afternoon, but impossible, so many interesting things. The country was wonderful. I really saw such beautiful scenery. We reached Bazoilles at 9pm. There we met several officers we knew, talked a while and then had supper. Goldie and I were given a room together, which is real nice, needs a little fixing up.

Here’s some background history, courtesy of Dr. Marian Moser Jones, assistant professor of family science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Dr. Jones wrote this description of the Bazoilles-sur-Meuse hospital complex:
This was a large hospital complex originally designed to handle up to 13,000 patients. It included Base Hospital 18 (the Johns Hopkins Unit), Base Hospital 42 (the Maryland Unit), Base Hospital 46, Base Hospital 60 (from Bismarck Hospital, North Dakota), and Base Hospital 116, from New York. Base Hospitals 79 and 81, organized from the Army at large, arrived in October at the complex. (See The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Chapter 24, Army Office of Medical History website.)
Dr. Jones found that "the nurses, orderlies, and doctors from the Bazoilles-sur-Meuse were moved around" quite often. Some of the reasons can be found in the 1929 book by orderly Frederick Pottle, Stretchers: the Story of a Hospital Unit on the Western Front:
When the American Army arrived in France, there was a good deal of disagreement as to the status on which it should operate. General Pershing naturally wished for the American armies to preserve their identity, and be assigned a sector of the front as their own particular project. The other Allied generals would have preferred to use the American troops as replacement battalions for the French and British lines, which were already holding the trenches. In the end, General Pershing prevailed, and chose, or was assigned, as the American sector, the line east of Verdun, a part of the front which was then quiet. Back of this area a vast and complicated service of supplies was being built up, including the necessary hospital centers. Bazoilles-sur-Meuse was one of the places where it was intended to concentrate the resources of several hospital organizations. For this purpose a considerable number of wooden barracks had been erected, and were awaiting companies to take them over. In the normal course of things, we should have encamped there, equipped our operating rooms and wards, and held ourselves in readiness for the moment when General Pershing thought the time had come to order a general advance. 
But these plans were roughly upset. In the spring of 1918, as everyone knows, the Germans launched a series of furious and successful drives against the French and British lines. On May 27 [the Germans'] third drive broke the French line, swept across the Aisne and the Vesle, and pressed on to the Marne, a gain of thirty miles in three days. The peak of the advance rested at Château-Thierry on the Marne, forty miles east and slightly north of Paris. General Foch asked Pershing for his best available troops. Pershing at once sent in the Third Division to hold the bridges at Château-Thierry and to prevent the Germans from penetrating farther south, and the Second to stop any German advance westward on Paris. Since June 1, while we had been jaunting across France, the Second had been suffering fearful casualties in the memorable battle of Belleau Woods. No American hospital service had been organized back of this part of the line, and the French, because of their great loss of hospitals and materials in the German advance, found themselves unable to care adequately even for their own wounded. An evacuation hospital was urgently needed back of Château-Thierry. Although we were far away in the Vosges, we were the only evacuation hospital in France then available. We had hardly reached Bazoilles-sur-Meuse before the order arrived for us to go back and set up our hospital somewhere northeast of Paris.
Again, here's Dr. Jones:
Dr. Arthur Shipley, a prominent professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, was featured in a series of articles published in the Bulletin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine; between 1919 and 1920. Florence Green mentioned meeting Shipley and working with him in her Oct. 26 diary entry. Frederick Pottle worked under him as an orderly. He later wrote a supplement to Pottle's book, The Officers and Nurses of Evac. No. 8. Although Green only served at this hospital for a short time, Shipley lists her in the supplement.
Here's Dr. Shipley describing Paris at about the time of Nurse Green's visit:
"During June and until July 15 Paris was being shelled almost every day and every clear night the German bombing planes went over us toward the French capital. Sometime between the last of June and the beginning of the Second Battle of the Marne had occasion to go to Paris number of times. I had seen something of Paris twelve years before. It was very changed. Not much so in mere outward appearances; the boulevards, the bridges, the churches, the open spaces and monuments were the same, but the crowds, the movement, the boulevard life were all gone. Sad and deserted, and waiting for its doom; doom that seemed at that time not far off. During this time there were no leaves granted. Soldiers were everywhere with their commands, and saw practically no officers or men in Paris. It was time of great anxiety and still greater watchfulness. Everyone was wondering where the big drive would take place."
Florence Green ("Mudder") arrived on Aug. 2, 1918, at U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 42, Bazoilles-Sur-Meuse, France, University of Maryland Nursing School Alumni Association Collection.

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