last German drive opened on July 15, 1918, we were holding the second
line of trenches in a sector of Chalons, near Suippers. The front line
was held by French troops of the 21st Corp., mostly blue devils.
front of us was a long slop into a valley, the slope being a half mile
in length, The front line was at the crest of the next hill, nearly a
mile away. About half way up the hill a battery of 75 mm guns were
stationed. They were out in the open as that country was devoid of
During the first five hours of the drive, this battery exhausted nearly
all of their ammunition and were unable to get more on account of their
open position and the intensity of the bombardment.
About mid-afternoon, six ammunition caissons, manned by the blue devil
volunteers, came out of the woods to our left and made a dash for the
emplacements. This was done on a clear day and under observation of
four German balloons and three or four planes. They reached the
emplacements unloaded the ammunition and were on their way back before
a shell lit near them. This shell killed one of the horses and wounded
another. The driver coolly cut them loose and drove the remaining four
This was the most courageous and dangerous deed that I witnessed during
my nine months at the front.
the personal experience which impressed me most during the was was the
efficiency with which our patients were handled. During the Argonne
drive we handled 1,700 patients in 48 hours and preformed 168
operations in the same time. This was done under great difficulties as
all lights were carefully camouflaged. During the time 13 operating
teams were at work, while the enlisted personnel of the outfit worked
long shifts, usually 48 hours. The whole outfit was placed on an
efficiency basis, basis, certain men were detailed as stretcher
bearers, others as orderlies, while others were detailed to the kitchen
to take care of the large amount of work there. During the armistice
and until early in December, the same large number of patients were
I do not
pretend to pick out the incident or experience which most impressed me
during my three months stay in Camp Dodge. There were so many incidents
an experiences: Getting into the work, seeing things done, realizing in
it all, meeting old friends from home or elsewhere, making new friends,
will mention an incident which may interest other Sioux Cityans more
than some other incident I might write on.
During the flu epidemic I was among those detailed to the Base Hospital
to help care for the sick boys. My particular work happened to be
getting the "history" of new patients as they were put to bed in the
hospital or barracks which were used as hospitals. I think it was about
11 o'clock one night when I was off duty that the fire alarm in the
main hospital sounded. In a few minutes a thousand and more willing
workers were asking where the fire was. There was no fire, but one of
the flu patients had escaped from his bed and ward in his delirium. The
hunt seemed more important and urgent than the hunt for a mere fire. At
first the crowd was large, but soon some gave up. It was a black night
and no one knew exactly which way the patient had gone. But it was
vitally necessary to find him as soon as possible. They said he had
practically no clothes on and no shoes on his feet. We searched for
over an hour, near and far -- mostly far. Then someone discovered him
behind a tree, just across the road and railroad from the hospital, and
brought him in. I saw him myself as they brought him back. It was young
Will Frye, of Morningside. Two Sioux City boys besides myself (that I
knew) were among the searchers. I think this was on Friday night, and I
think it was on Sunday that he died. The exposure that cold night had
been too much for him.
What impressed me most was the readiness in which men in all ranks
completely submerged their personalities and rights of civil life and
became subservient to men of superior ranks. In other words, when it
came to a national emergency we gave ourselves over to the government.
As a result of this transformation we unconsciously obeyed a law inbred
in all human hearts" namely, the respect for authority.
Authority in government, home, church or business is essential for
success. Few of us ever dreamed we could be disciplined as we were --
and submit so calmly -- but we did. This observation and study of men
impressed me very strikingly during the time of my service.
Trying to locate our colonel who was somewhere between two ridges and I
had to cross the first one which was covered by machine gun fire by bum
enemy snipers. But I reached the bottom of the valley, found the
colonel and started to get the liaison officer when some boche
artillery man thought he would place a 77 right behind me. It
immediately sprouted and boosted me skyward. I passed through hell for
a few minutes and I am shaking now, thinking of it.
experience was to keep your eye and ears open and your mouth closed,
and I learned to obey, never talk back to one above me, also to be true
and faithful and take care of yourself in a way that I would not have
thought of if I hadn't joined the army. One of my greatest experiences
was when I was a drill instructor teaching the different kinds of men.
Some could not speak or understand English.
Being very thankful that I am not wounded any worse. I received gun
shot wound right wrist in action at a place called Surgery, France.
Being in a line of runners where all but two of us were saved from a
high explosive shell; loosing my first sergeant, first lieutenant,
bugler and captain's runners for each platoon of my company. Our
company being first company in battalion advance when shell broke right
on our group. I being in the trenches five months, in and out in the
Lorraine sector, under shell fire five months without getting rest. All
this experience impressed upon me to try and live a better life as life
was very dear to us. It was very wonderful how the Red Cross managed to
take care of the wounded so well during this war, as I was wounded and
went unconscious for a short time. It gave me a chance to see their
As we were advancing at Chateau Thierry, four days without anything to
eat only what the enemy would leave. We kept loosing our men very fast,
as the gas was so heavy it would hang so low at night, as we would have
dig in every project we would take. We lost our captain the night
before I was wounded, with gas. Of course the shell fire was terrible
at this time as the Germans were retreating and leaving machine guns to
rear guard. All these were Hindenburg troops and Crown Prince soldiers
at Chateau Thierry.
Under stress of fire a man hardly has time or inclination for
retrospection. It's all in a day's work. The night of the armistice --
from the top of a ridge where we had been lying for 48 hours -- from a
point where one could look for miles over the plains below, we could
follow both lines from the signal rockets. They had always seemed
sinister before, but now seemed as beautiful as an old-time pyrotechnic
display on Independence Day. The fact that we could go into open road
and light a cigarette on Armistice night and that if you didn't feel so
inclined you could forget the old tin hat, impressed me more than the
first whizz-bang or any so-called tight squeeze because the whole works
was nothing but a series of tight squeezes -- and most of which we were
not aware of until later.