Sunday, December 13, 2015

Part VI: Mudder's World War I diary

September 25 
Orders came almost 1030am for us to move, we came up in ambulances took about 8 hours, to Fleury. On the way up met Dr. Mores, talked to him almost a 1/2 hour.

September 26
Worked all day, in the G Room, lots of cases came in.

September 27 
Nothing exciting, worked all day in the GR.

September 28 
Same old thing, worked forty two hours without any sleep, such is life but I don’t mind.

September 29 
Really didn’t know today was Sunday, we were so very busy, but we are hearing good news, so why worry.

September 30

The boys sure are coming in, and oh the condition, poor things, it is dreadful. Well I hear we move tomorrow. Thank goodness for that.

October 1 
We all moved up here, the teams came up in ambulance, and we had a pretty good barracks to sleep in, the French loaned it to us, out in tents for us in the morning. I don’t know where we are, near Rheims, somewhere.

October 2 
The Huns sure were flying over us last night. No bombs dropped on us. Took a long walk, saw a French cemetery, had 2 Americans in them. We line up for our food, great life.

October 3 
Gee, I sure thought we were goners last night, the shells just whizzed past us, I thought the next one would hit us. Same barrage during the night too. I hear the Americans went over the top this morning, the patients are starting to come in.

October 4 

Been awfully busy, no time to write.

October 5 
Worked at night, and plenty of it to do.

October 6 
Never knew it was Sunday, 

October 7 
Not so busy, made some good fudge about 4am.

October 8 

Worked hard last night

October 9 

Am on fifth calls, doubt if we work, had a fudge party, 3 officers, Miss Martin and I, was it good.

October 10 
Had a ride to Chalons today, one of the boys picked us up, had a dandy ‘ride’ in a Dodge. 

October 11 
Working, nothing much is happening.

October 12 
Great talk about peace, if it would only be true.

October 13 
Went to Chalons today, had an awfully good dinner. Go to bed mighty early these nights. No mail from home, blue I do feel.

October 14 
Peace seems a long way off, oh for me home, so blooming much fuss in this organization, one of the nurses in the guard house, I suppose I’ll be next.

October 15

A dreary old day, no mail, and I sure feel blue tonight; will be satisfied to get back to my base, such a life. We did have some good cake tonight.

October 16 
Sure am getting old, am 26 today, had lunch at Chalons, Miss Hurst gave me 4 birthday cards, which were so pretty.

October 17 
Worked all day in the Pneumonia ward. To bed early as usual

October 18 

Orders to move, but they were changed in a few hours, so I suppose will stay here awhile.

October 19 

In bed all day with a bad cold, chill blains, my feet nearly kill me.

Oct 20 
Went to Chalons to take a sick nurse, she is going to Paris. Came home, made some good fudge and at night received a letter from P., sure was happy. To bed at 7pm. Such a life. I went to church.

Oct 21 
Took a walk, found a commissary, which was supplied with chocolate, such a treat. At night, went out with a captain.

October 22 
Oh, I was so happy when the C.O. said I could go to my base. I packed all my things, because we are moving. Well, I had to change cars at Toul and my train was four hours late, so I had to stay all night at the place as there were no trains to Baz, such an experience, had a time getting a place to sleep, finally did.

October 23 
My train left at 530pm, of course it was late. Traveling in France isn’t the most pleasant thing alone, especially if you don’t speak French. I arrived at my base in time for breakfast, was rather hungry, as I had no dinner the night before. Everyone was so glad to see me, it made me feel real happy, was just like going home to see your people. Just think, another one of our nurses has died. It is just dreadful. The stack of mail I did get, 25 letters, and five newspapers. I left that night. Ray W took me to the train; it was only 1 hour and 15 minutes late. Had another night to spend in Toul.

October 24 
Arrived at my destination about 3pm, and there were orders for our team to proceed to Evac 8, Verdun section. Had all Miss Martin’s packing to do, as she was not well. We left at almost 5pm and arrived at midnight.

October 25

Went to breakfast, had a good meal. Found out we were not going to work so we started out for Evac #4 to see Miss Leach. Instead of getting to 4, we were taken to Evac #6, Dr. Moses was there, so I stayed there for lunch, had quite a nice time. He seemed sort of glad to see me. Back to #8, then to #4, saw Goldie, she was tickled to death to see me, only had a short time there, she was scrubbed up, and working hard, went on duty 8pm, came off at midnight to go on day duty.

"Worked forty two hours without any sleep." What was keeping Nurse Green and her colleagues so busy at the evacuation hospitals in Sept.-Oct., 1918?

This comes from the History Channel's "This Day in History:"
At 5:30 on the morning of September 26, 1918, after a six-hour-long bombardment over the previous night, more than 700 Allied tanks, followed closely by infantry troops, advance against German positions in the Argonne Forest and along the Meuse River. 
Building on the success of earlier Allied offensives at Amiens and Albert during the summer of 1918, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, carried out by 37 French and American divisions, was even more ambitious. Aiming to cut off the entire German 2nd Army, Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch ordered General John J. Pershing to take overall command of the offensive. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was to play the main attacking role, in what would be the largest American-run offensive of World War I. 
After some 400,000 U.S. troops were transferred with difficulty to the region in the wake of the U.S.-run attack at St. Mihiel, launched just 10 days earlier, the Meuse-Argonne offensive began. The preliminary bombardment, using some 800 mustard gas and phosgene shells, killed 278 German soldiers and incapacitated more than 10,000. The infantry advance began the next morning, supported by a battery of tanks and some 500 aircraft from the U.S. Air Service.
By the morning of the following day, the Allies had captured more than 23,000 German prisoners; by nightfall, they had taken 10,000 more and advanced up to six miles in some areas. The Germans continued to fight, however, putting up a stiff resistance that ultimately forced the Allies to settle for far fewer gains than they had hoped.
Pershing called off the Meuse-Argonne offensive on September 30; it was renewed again just four days later, on October 4. Exhausted, demoralized and plagued by the spreading influenza epidemic, the German troops held on another month, before beginning their final retreat. Arriving U.S. reinforcements had time to advance some 32 kilometers before the general armistice was announced on November 11, bringing the First World War to a close.
Wikipedia sums it up this way: "The battle cost Pershing 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of the war for the American Expeditionary Force."

Poetry, as always, gets the last word. From the Poetry Foundation web site:
Epitaph On My Days in Hospital
I found in you a holy place apart,
Sublime endurance, God in man revealed,
Where mending broken bodies slowly healed
My broken heart 
Source: Verses of a VAD (1918). Brittain served as a nurse with the British Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) during the war. Her only brother and her fiance both were killed in action.
Map of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. From Wikipedia, public domain.

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