Thursday, December 03, 2015

Part III: Mudder's World War I diary

August 3, 1918 
No patients as yet, we breakfasted at 8am.  Heard this morning that Dr. Wood, an M.G.H friend of ours was very near. Goldie and I went over and looked him up. Sure was good to see him, and he was sure surprised to see us. The Hopkins Unit is also very close to ours. Played ball with some of the nurses and officers including Roy Wolford. Heard our trunks had arrived and went down to the station to see if all were here. 

In the afternoon, Peg, Goldie and I went over to 116, the Y.M.C.A , to buy some chocolate. On our way back, we met three very nice American officers, we talked awhile, it started to rain, but we did not go for a little thing like that.

August 4, 1918 

Did not get up for breakfast. 

We all went over to the Y.M.C.A ,  to church, very nice service. On returning we found out that Goldie, Peg, Steve Beauman and I are to go to Base #15, about four hour ride in the train.  Unpack and repack again but sort of glad, am sure tired of loafing.  Took a long walk in the evening and on our return, we had company from #46, Lt. Wood.

August 5, 1918 

We have arrived at Base #15 and such a homesick crowd.  In a dormitory with thirteen other girls, but eight from #42. I did not know how much I loved our own base. We had a short train ride, then a ride in an ambulance. This is the Roosevelt Unit -- has stone buildings, ours are wooden but are good enough for me. The girls are very dismaying to us; they seem to think we will never get back to our base. Took a long walk in the country, passed General Pershing’s chateau. This county is really more beautiful than up at our place.

August 6, 1918 

No one has yet told us to report for duty, but I suppose we will know about that soon. The Red Cross or rather the Y.M.C.A. serves hot cocoa to the nurses at 1030am, tasted mighty good too. After lunch we went to Chaumont and should we pass in their large machine but General Pershing, he waved and smiled and we were tickled to death. He looks just like his picture, we knew it was his car coming; there was four stars on the front.  After, we got to town we met two officers that we had met on the ship, Captain Madden and Lt. Smith. Glad to see them, we had not seen any one we knew for such a long while. 

After tea, we took a long walk, went to General Pershing’s chateau and went through the grounds, oh everything was so pretty, the grounds were kept so well, a duck pond and some beautiful flowers. I picked a rose, will try to keep it. Don’t say I did not eat a big dinner after that walk and I’ll tell you the food is great here, to bed at 8pm.

August 7, 1918 

About 8am, the assistant came in our dormitory and told us to get ready for duty, I told her we had to have our carryalls first, so about 10am, they arrived, I went on duty. We were not yet so busy today, most patients up. We have a little French boy, with a mastoid, not yet six years old, awfully cute chap.

August 8, 1918 

Well, a convoy in during the night, and such a crowd of injured boys. Poor things, it sure is the most pitiful sight, they suffer so. 

Nothing unusual happened. Steve made some of the best caramels, but they did not get real hard so could not send them to Chris. We sure did enjoy them. 

August 9, 1918 

Still at Base #15, oh to be back home, Had last hours, after dinner, Peggie and I took a walk, met a major we knew, he walked home with us. There was a dance on at the Red Cross, but I did not go, too lazy I suppose. Played a joke on one of the girls, there were only eleven in the room, I put an enormous pitcher and some clothes and a hat in her bed. She thought someone was in it. We had lots of fun.

August 10, 1918 

Nothing of importance happened today. Met an officer downtown that asked us if we would help him buy some lace for his wife. We were only too glad, of course.

August 11, 1918, Sunday 

Another convoy in, those Huns sure are doing our poor boys up. After met three officers that wanted us to take a ride, did we refuse, I guess not, in a seven passenger Winten, and some car too.

August 12, Monday 

The sad news came was broken to me about 1230, Poor Goldie in tears, I was to be ready at 2pm to go to the Front. I did not say anything, no use, I was pretty blue over the fact. We started on our journey, 4 officers, 2 nurses and 2 orderlies, we landed in Paris at 7pm, to the Chatham, and then some dinner, after that took a walk with the officer. Paris sure is a dark place. We went to bed early, had a wonderful room, all white with a bath.

August 13, Tuesday

Got up rather early, went out to do a little shopping (Miss Martin) the girl I came with paid only $20.00 for a pair of tan shoes. I had my hair shampooed. I think the man poured a whole bottle of toilet water in it. The French sure believe in Perfumery. 

After lunch we were to take the 1pm train to Chateau Thierry but my luggage was lost (found later) so we waited for the 525 train, while waiting we decided to go to the Red Cross. Went up in a taxi and by the way, if you are struck by a taxi in Paris, you are arrested, think of it. The Red Cross gave us each a jersey dress, grey, very nice looking too. After we arrived back at the station we met an officer who wanted some ice cream nearly as bad as I did, so we took a taxi and located the Chinese Umbrella, where we really did find some, the first I had for four weeks. We arrived at Chateau Thierry about 10pm. Some officers had a large truck so they were good enough to take us to Thierry, no lights in the truck and the number of them we had to pass, dark as it could be. When we arrived at Mobile  #1, they were are torn up, ready to move, They finally found a place for us to sleep, just an army cot with a blanket, we had something to eat and then a good sleep. Could hear the guns very plain but did not disturb me.

August 14, Wednesday 

After breakfast, who should I meet but Howard Moses, never was so surprised in my life, and I really believe he was shocked. We took a long walk through Chateau Thierry over the main river bridge, the town was in an awful condition, nearly every house was shelled or bombed. The people were just moving in that had been run out, such a sight; we hailed an ambulance and rode back. 

On arriving, I found that our team was to be moved to Evac #3, about four miles away, Crezancy, I just live to pack and move so much fun.  This place is not so awfully bad, living in tents and the eating, oh my. The flies and bugs are dreadful. Howard C. came over in the afternoon. Left about 7pm. We are to be a night team, hardly think any work will be in tonight.

The war from an orderly's point of view...

Frederick Pottle was the author of the 1929 book, Stretchers: the Story of a Hospital Unit on the Western Front, published by Yale University Press. Pottle served as an orderly at the hospital complex, and, as later happened to our grandmother, Florence Green, was sent to Evacuation Hospital No. 8. Stretchers describes everyday life for U. S. medical teams near the front.

Here's an excerpt from Pottle's book:
An extract from a diary will serve to indicate the mixed spirit of idealistic altruism and matter-of-factness which characterized the greater part of our war work. Caring for wounded men becomes a job just like everything else, and to carry on this job efficiently for a long period of time demands a reasonable attention to one's own physical and mental health. The diary was, of course, never intended for public inspection. But the naivete of its entries is therefore all the more illuminating.
Monday, July 15. Played tennis until 11.00 A.M. [This man was on night duty.] Beaten once, but did not play to finish. Holiday for all the boys. Took shower and got ready for a dance. Alas! 7.00 P.M. Evac 8 luck. Dance called off on account of a big drive. From 8.00 P.M. carried our boys from Battle of Marne to operating room and then to ward. 
Tuesday, July 16. 4.45 A.M. Carried the last poor mate to operating room. News said Huns had crossed Marne, but were pushed back./ Slept 5.00 to 7.00 A.M., then [I suppose after eating breakfast] slept all day, as I was very tired. Got up for dinner and supper. Reported at 7.30 P.M. Carried a few patients, then slept after supper [at midnight] of pork, bread and butter, lettuce and cocoa. [This midnight mess was prepared by the sisters and served in the refectory of the College itself.] 
Wednesday, July 17. Up at 7.00 A.M. Sat around and talked. Germans at Marne had advanced ten miles, but losses were great. and victory conceded to U.S. To bed after dinner and slept until 6.00 P.M. Reported for duty. Nothing to do. Slept until 12.00 Then supper. 1.30 AM. called and helped with man in A Ward. He died, then I slept until 7.00 A.M.
Thursday, July 18. Played tennis with B and lost 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Slept well until 4.00 P.M. Company had dance but did not go, account of big rush of our boys. Some had legs amputated , and litter bearing in an operating room is surely some job. Took delight in helping to make the boys comfortable. Had supper at midnight, beef, lettuce, and bread. Then back to work.
Friday, July 19. Reported off at 7.30 A.M. and was surely tired, sick at stomach, etc., and went right to bed. Good news says we drove the Huns back six or eight miles. Up at 6.00 P.M. Worked hard all night carrying. Saw some mean wounds. Had nothing for supper at midnight. Court filled with wounded.
“Chateau Thierry, the turning point of the World War." Postcard published by E.B. Remenson, Chicago, 1919, Public domain image.
Stretcher bearers carrying wounded from ambulances at Evac 8. From Frederick Pottle's book, "Stretchers."

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