The Hardest Battle of the War

HISTORY OF THE 305th Infantry
Frank Tiebout

Chapter 9




HA, ha! Thought I'd die laughing. Remember those last few shells they sent over? Well, one of them landed pretty near to 'Mess-Kit's' funk hole, an' just when one lit, I cracked ol' ' Mess-Kit' on the dome with a rock. He thought he was hit an' yelled somepin awful. 'I'm hit; first aid! first aid! "'

"Hey there, don't bunch up!" "Five pace intervals." "Fall out on the right and dig in!" "Put out that light!" A smile shone through the dirty, bearded faces as you sprang all those old wheezes during the night march back through Raucourt to St. Pierremont, where you couldn't sleep even on a nice, soft board now that the guns were silent. You promptly stuffed those corking Kentucky men, who joined us there, full with the stories of how you won the war.

Well, you helped. The Division of which you were a part feels that when General Pershing addressed to the First, Third and Fifth Corps his General Order No. 232, he was not unmindful of the work of the 77th:
G. H. Q.
American Expeditionary Forces
FRANCE, Dec. 19, 1918.
General Orders,
No. 232
It is with a sense of gratitude for its splendid accomplishment, which will live all through history, that I record in General Orders a tribute to the victory of the First Army in the Meuse-Argonne battle.

Tested and strengthened by the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient, for more than six weeks you battered against the pivot of the enemy line on the westen front. It was a position of imposing natural strength, stretching on both sides of the Meuse River from the bitterly contested hills of Verdun to the almost impenetrable forest of the Argonne; a position, more-over, fortified by four years of labor designed to render it impregnable; a position held with the fullest resources of the enemy. That position you broke utterly, and thereby hastened the collapse of the enemy's military power.

Soldiers of all the divisions engaged under the First, Third and Fifth Corps-the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 7th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32d, 33d, 35th, 37th, 42d, 77th, 78th 79th, 80th, 82d, 89th, 90th and 91st-you will be long remembered for the stubborn persistence of your progress, your storming of obstinately defended machine gun nests, your penetration, yard by yard, of woods and ravines, your heroic resistance in the face of counter attacks supported by powerful artillery fire. For more than a month, from the initial attack of September 26th, you fought your way slowly through the Argonne, through the woods and over hills west of the Meuse; you slowly enlarged your hold on the Cotes de Meuse to the east; and then, on the first of November you cleared the entire left bank of the Meuse south of Sedan, and then stormed the heights on the right bank and drove him into the plain beyond.

Your achievement, which is scarcely to be equaled in American history, must remain a source of proud satisfaction to the troops who participated in the last campaign of the war. The American people will remember it as the realization of the hitherto potential strength of the American contribution toward the cause to which they had sworn allegiance. There can be no greater reward for a soldier or for a soldier's memory.

This order will be read to all organizations at the first assembly formation after its receipt.
JOHN J. PERSHING, General, Commander in Chief, American Expeditionary Forces. Official:
ROBERT C. Davis,

In his first complete report to Secretary of War Baker, the Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces said in part: " The strategical goal which was our highest hope was gained. We had cut the enemy's main line of communications and nothing but surrender or an armistice could save his army from complete disaster."

Of those who went on leave at that critical juncture, is there one who doesn't now credit himself with being a wise old owl, having escaped one of the hardest hikes in history? There is another order, which carries the memory back over those nine days of hiking from St. Pierremont to the sea of mud in the Chaumont area; over the ground so bitterly contested during the two months just past; over a dinnerless Thanksgiving and well beyond the rumor which would have placed you on the water by December 10th; over the stiff rebukes you sustained for bellowing derisively, "Who won the war? The M. P.'s!! Who laid down the barrage? The Y. M. C. A.!!"

American E. F.
December 1, 1918. MEMORANDUM:

The 77th Division has taken part in the campaign which has just closed; a campaign which with its successful termination marks the end of the war in which we have been engaged so far as the immediate active operations are concerned; with credit to itself and resulting profit to our country and our cause.

The Division in the past three months of its history has nothing whatever for which to apologize. It has carried out the missions intrusted to it and has possessed at all times the aggressive spirit essential to success in war.

We are now about to enter upon another phase of our service as soldiers of the United States. That phase involves a continued readiness for such operations as may become necessary in the future. This involves improvement in our knowledge of the finer technique of the military profession so that even should no active operations now ensue, each officer and man of this Division will carry back with him into civil life such knowledge of his service as a soldier as will render him, individually, as trainer and commander, most available to the country in the event of another emergency.

With this purpose in view the Division is now to go into a period of training. It must have been evident to all that our success in the operations in which we have been engaged has been due in great measure more to the aggressive spirit of our officers and men than to our knowledge of the finer technique of the military profession. As a consequence of this, while we have been successful, while we have accomplished the results which superior authority has expected of us, we have at the same time probably paid more dearly for that success than should have been the case had our training been further advanced. The Division Commander therefore expects that a real-ization of our deficiencies in the finer technique of training will suffice to keep our hearts in the work which lies before us. The Division now has an excellent reputation; it is our duty and our privilege to demonstrate, during the period of training upon which we are about to enter, that that reputation is founded not merely upon the evanescent success of battle where we have the excitement of combat to keep us keyed up to the proper pitch, but that we also possess that steadfastness of heart and determination which will cause us to do our best under any conditions which confront us. The Division Commander is convinced that we do possess those qualities of steadfastness and determination and that no criticism can be made against us on that score.

Those who will observe us will pass judgment upon the outward marks of discipline and instruction. As a matter of fact no other standard is possible. Those outward indications are: promptness and smartness in saluting, neatness and cleanliness in dress and equipment, good condition of animals, and cleanliness and good order around billets and cantonments. The Division Commander is convinced that all will endeavor to set an example in these items and thus maintain, during the period of training set before us, the high esteem which the Division has won in combat so that we may return to our homes, when the proper time comes for such return, retaining that esteem as the result of a demonstrated ability to do our full duty not only in combat but under any and all circumstances.
Major-General, Commanding.

The above memorandum will be read to all organizations at the first formation after its receipt.

Acting Chief of Staff.
Distribution down to include companies.

"Now that we've won the war, they're trying to make soldiers out of us," wailed the everlasting critic in the ranks. When not pushing through the thickest woods on the rainiest days, surrounding some "greaseball" banging on a canteen with a rock as you should have surrounded machine guns in the Argonne, you were climbing a hill to the happy drilling grounds or were on on a weird, all-day maneuver at the other end of the Province Haute-Marne where someone was probably trying to justify the action of the "Lost Battalion." At three-thirty a runner found you and the rest of your imaginary unit in the middle of a wilderness, with the cheerful message that the problem had been called off at twelve-fifteen.

In the little towns of Autreville, Valdelancourt, St. Martin, La Ville-neuve and Montheries, now in command of Colonel Raymond Sheldon, the first and never-ending duty was to clean up, to remove the aforementioned indices to civilian wealth and position as discussed in the Lorraine Chapter; next, to police yourselves and remain policed despite the mud and the shortage of clothes; then, to dodge the Corps and Division inspectors or to satisfy them on all the little points listed in the pamphlet. It was difficult enough to please them. In the words of the Regular Army men: " These Reserve Officers are nice enough boys. They mean well; but they don't know-they just don't know. Yet they are being paid--" Here the Reserve Officer feels like remarking caustically: "Yes, a short while ago we were earning far more than the one-sixty-six, sixty-seven, whereas those who are now getting much more, were then earning the one-sixty-six, sixty-seven."

An inspector approaches a company commander; he says nothing.
"'Mornin', sir," says the captain, saluting punctiliously.
"Well? Is that the way you address yourself to an inspector?"
"Reckon it is, sir," drawls the captain, smiling in real Southern fashion. "Tell me who you are," imperiously.
" Cap'nClarkcommandingCompany E 305th Infantry!
"Very good. Now let me see one of your billets." Inspector and inspected walk off in tremulous silence.
"What is this doing here? " The inspector kicks a pile of blankets lying in a corner.
"Look out there!" whines a feeble voice as its tousled owner peers from beneath the blankets, hastily covers his head in mortification, uncovers it again and makes as if to salute.
" Why aren't you drilling?"
"'Cause I'm sick."
, 'What's the matter with you?
"I dunno, sir."
"Did you report on Sick Call last night?"
" No, sir. "
"Why didn't you?"
, "Cause I wasn't sick then."

Having ascertained that the American Army is in good health, the inspector moves off to another part of town. "Show me the nearest kitchen," he says to a member of the neighboring company; the latter, being a man of infinite resource and sagacity, conducts the officer to a kitchen behind the Chateau.

" Whose kitchen is this?" growls the inspector. " It's the filthiest thing I've ever seen! "

"That's the Colonel's Mess," grins the adroit youth, who can hardly conceal his gloating satisfaction.

"Take me to your company commander!" orders the dignitary; where-upon the aforesaid Intelligent Youth conducts Inspector to the company's best looking billet, excuses himself and hastens to warn the captain, who reports in haste. The first captain interviewed has already tipped off the other as to the proper mode of address; consequently the preliminaries are quickly over.

"Where is the sign which should appear on the door of the billet stating how many are quartered here and who is in charge?"

"The rain must have washed it off, sir," hoping that the other billets will not be inspected.
"These beds are pretty crowded. Are the men sleeping as prescribed?"
"Yes, sir; nose to-er, head to foot, sir. I inspect the billets every night. "
"That underwear should not hang in the sleeping quarters."
"It must dry somewhere, sir."
"Don't dry it in the sleeping quarters. Set aside one of your rooms for a sort of laundry. Put a stove in it, and keep it hot."

" Sir, every available room is used for sleeping purposes. This is a mighty poor town. The Mayor cannot give us another inch of space. Besides, no stoves have been issued. This is the only fireplace in the building; but then, the issue of fuel is so meagre that it all goes to the kitchen fires. These clothes dry out a little during the day, and are further dried by whatever sort of fire the men can scrape together at night." (They steal the wood.)

"My boy," begins the inspector, feeling that he approaches the point where he can pull the favorite old Army gag and pass the buck; " don't say it can't be done. That word is not in our dictionary. Now, the real soldier, the real officer, is the one who utilizes every means at his disposal to accom-plish his object. When the proper materials are not forthcoming, he must exercise his ingenuity and initiative. He takes even the old tin can from the- Have your men shower baths? Then take a number of tin cans, punch holes in the bottom and The Company Commander begins to get a little red behind the ears, for he hates to be called down before even the few men who happen to be sick in quarters, and silently follows the rasping voice of the inspector through the building into the yard.

"That pit is full of water. Dig a new one."
"That pit has just been dug, sir. The ground about here is so low and the rains so constant that-"
" Oh, I know. We had all those very same things to contend with in the Philippines. It can be done somehow. Do you hang a lantern in that door-way at night?"
"No, sir. There have been no lanterns issued, and we cannot buy them even with the company funds. The Supply Company can issue no oil for the few lamps we've obtained from the civilians. Twelve candles are issued each day for two hundred and fifty men; but most of them have to be used in the Orderly Room, where the work is going on far into the night."

"Do you maintain at the kitchen the two barrels of boiling water, one soapy and the other clear, and another of cold water, for the men to wash their mess kits in?"
"No, sir. We haven't been issued the G. I. cans; and besides, there is only enough fuel to cook the food with."
"Have you any recreation room, where the men can read at night?

"I should say we haven't, sir. As I said before, all the available rooms are used for the billeting. There are no books in town; there are no candles by which to read-if the men felt like doing anything after a hard day of drill but rush to the warm saloon. There is a Y. M. C. A. hut with a dirt floor and no equipment. Sir, I felt a few minutes ago that you did me a great injustice, calling me down before my men. I admit I haven't been in the service quite two years; but I've been in it long enough to know that I'm sick and tired of this 'passing the buck!"' He hopes the inspector has a spark of human sympathy left, after the rigors of the Philippines.
"What do you mean-passing the buck! " This indignantly.

" Sir, I mean just that. I am ordered to do things without the necessary wherewithal. If the Army really wanted those things done, it would supply the equipment, instead of passing the buck. I am the only officer on duty now with this company. I am ordered to attend Reveille and to conduct in person the ten minutes setting up exercise preceding it. I am ordered to be at the kitchen to inspect the serving of all meals; I am ordered to inspect the billets before drill. I drill all morning, rain or shine, as the orders require. I inspect the noon meal. I drill in the afternoon, inspect the guard detail, and -perhaps perform the duties of the Officer of the Day. I stand Retreat. I conduct the non-com.'s school for another hour. I inspect the evening meal, and then attend to all the foolish orders, which arrive at night. In the meantime, I have to live, and am required to be neat in appearance at all times. I am held personally responsible for equipment, the cleanliness, the health and happiness of this company. And yet I am told to do foolish things with tin cans! The men aren't happy. They have miserable quarters and get too much bully beef. An order says that only the Brigade Commander is authorized to permit the drill indoors during inclement weather. Not one day yet has been decreed inclement. The other morning we drilled until noon in a terrible downpour. At one o'clock I sought permission to remain indoors, but we were sent out again in wet clothes in the continuous downpour. The men have no change of clothes. They come back drenched to the skin, with no welcome but a dirt floor on which their blankets are stretched, with no wood for a fire, with no candles for light, and meagre cheer. They are out there now drilling in wet clothes!"

"It isn't raining now. Why aren't the blankets out airing?"
" Because it was raining when the men went out to drill, and in all probability it will be raining again, in a few minutes."
"Well, there are some things which the supply departments might improve. I will make a note of the wood situation. Oh, be sure to keep the men's shoes well oiled, and don't let them put their drying pair too near the fire. How are your other billets? "

C ' Er, about the shoes. They have on now their only pair. There is no dubbin. The shoes cannot possibly be kept neat and clean, for the mud they drill in reaches almost to the shoe-tops. I'll take you to the shacks where two other platoons are gradually sinking out of sight in the mud. Ha! It's raining now,"

"Well, I'll see what I can do," and he's off to inspect someone else.
The poor, down-trodden doughboy has something to say, too:
In the army they call me a Private.
It is a misnomer.
There is nothing private about me.
I have been questioned and examined by fifty physicians, and they haven't missed a blemish.
I have told my numerous occupations and my salary.
I have confessed to being unmarried.

I have nothing in my past that is not revealed.
I sleep in a room with fifty men.
I cat with three hundred and wash my mess kit in the same can.
I take my bath with the entire company.
I wear a suit of the same material and cut as five million other men.
I have to tell where I want to go when I take a walk and even then I never see anyone but soldiers-privates like myself.
I have never a moment to myself.
And yet, they call me a private.
What the hell!
(For three years I supported a wife and child and now I'm told when to go to bed!)

Aw-but it wasn't all as bad as that-not until the first few days after the move to Mayenne. Things straightened out somehow. The Y. M. C. A. bucked up and did some good work. The canteens opened. I Company worked up a pretty good show, the chief attraction of which was Private Martin, the female impersonator, who exercised his wiles upon numerous celebrities of the Regiment. With the funds donated by the faithful Auxiliary wonderful Christmas dinners were purchased in Chaumont-whither those with large company funds would journey each weekend to return with a cart-load of veal, or mutton, dried fruit and vegetables. One enterprising company bought, for a fortune, as many as sixty hens from the neighboring towns, fattened them up and had a wonderful feast.

But there were those who missed their Christmas dinner. It was said benignly in the newspapers that President Wilson spent the day with his soldiers. Would he have done it, had he realized that in order to manufacture that riot of a review at Humes, two hundred and fifty picked soldiers from each regiment had to drill all Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in the rain, board motor trucks at four o'clock in the morning and spend nearly all of Christmas day on the road? Yet, those who were chosen were flattered, got new equipment out of it and the envied Liberty Insignia which looked as if Goldberg had designed it.

Already, it is January. A few leaves are granted; but-oh, if we could only be sent home! The 27th Division is going to sail. The 77th hangs on, though it preceded the other division to France. It cannot go, of course, until the threatened epidemic of typhoid is suppressed. "I gave orders two weeks ago," thunders the General, "that this typhoid fever should stop. It has not stopped!"

A doughboy found himself on leave in Aix les Bains. It was in the year 1930. There was Uncle Sam coming down the street.
"Hello, Nephew! " said Uncle Sam.
"Hello, Uncle," said the doughboy.

" What are you doing here?" asked Uncle Sam. "I thought all the American soldiers were back in the States."
"Still here," replied the boy dejectedly.
"What division do you belong to? "
"The 77th."
"By Heck! That's so," exclaimed the dear old absent-minded fellow. " I'd plumb forgotten all about you!"

Rumor has it that early in February we are to move down to the celestial Le Mans area to be cleaned up, prior to the sailing for home. The town crier passes through the streets, beating his drum and shouting to all good citizens that the Americans are leaving shortly-and that all claims, justified and imaginary, should be put in at once.

The citizens bestir themselves, take inventory of every scrap of refuse that has been hanging around for years, and file their claims with the Mayor.

Madam Haschette has been feeding her pigs on the leavings from the Supply Company kitchen, the Mess Sergeant being only too glad to have her take the stuff away. For some days, she has been casting a loving eye in the direction of a kettle full of beef drippings, which the cooks suddenly use for a batch of steaming doughnuts.

Gesticulating wildly, almost tearing her hair out by the roots, the good woman descends in voluble wrath upon the Company Commander with a claim for fifty francs! Those beef drippings rightly belonged to her. (This is about the only claim which the Americans succeed in side-stepping.)
Four or five pickets disappear from a fence built just after the War of 1870. Claim: forty francs. The coping has fallen from a stone wall; ten meters of wall-at ten francs per meter. Claim: one hundred francs. Two beehives are overturned, the bees absent, the honey unaccounted for. Since the burden of proof in such cases lies with the accused, the company whose area lies nearest the hives is the loser. An imaginary pile of wood is claimed to have been stolen; fifty francs. But since the Americans and French, as said before, are brothers, Monsieur Marechal comes down to ten, and sets up the drinks.

But ah! Here is a deep one! The Town Commandant writes to Captain Siebert: " One of your neighbors reports that one rooster and five hens disappeared from a shed near your Signal Platoon. This is nothing less than plain stealing and cannot be glossed over. Investigate."

The Captain goes over to one of his neighbors and says in fluent French, "Avvy voo lost cinq chickens?" The neighbor says, "No." The Captain reports the findings to the Town Commandant, who 'lows as how that ain't the right neighbor, and proceeds to investigate, for himself. Here is the shed 1; foot-prints, gore, feathers. Unmistakable signs of a terrible carnage. Five hens are still cowering wild-eyed in a corner, suffering from nervous prostra-tion. If Monsieur Legrand formerly had ten and a rooster it is certain that the others must be A. W. 0. L. Oh, no! He couldn't have sold them'.

The Supply Company advertises a big chicken dinner for the coming Sunday; but such evidence is purely circumstantial. H Company is billeted in the next street over; looks bad for H. E Company had a couple of recal-citrants picked up in the street that fatal night; but that is nothing out of the way. The finger of suspicion undoubtedly points to the Headquarters Company, though the First Sergeant swears the blood on the Orderly Room door-sill resulted from the company mechanic having cut a finger. Therefore ', all four companies are finally ordered to chip in, purchasing out of their coin-pany funds an ephemeral portion of vanished chicken for every man in town.
At last, we are off, in the coldest touch of winter since the bitter days at Upton. At the most inconvenient hours of the night, the companies file through the snow drifts to B ricon, leaving enough equipment behind to supply the next shift of troops, despite the earnest efforts of officers and non-coms to leave not a trace of the occupation. But the laxity of the front lines is gradually passing. No longer can the men have an issue of clothing for the asking. They enter the Province of Mayenne with all their possessions listed upon the "Form 637."

Here is a different sort of country; rather picturesque but muddy and all cut up by foolish little ditches and hedges. But real people live in the neighborhood, many of the nobility, with spacious grounds and large chateaux. The bulk of the Third Battalion captures the prize, when it draws the town of St. Denis d'Anjou. Bou&re, where Regimental Headquarters and most of both the First and Fourth Battalions are quartered, is so promising that Major Metcalf--now a Lieutenant-Colonel-has all the houses numbered, and gives perfectly grand names to all the streets: " Rue Marechal Foch ... .. Place Wilson," and all the rest. For a couple of weeks the Second Battalion shifts disconsolately 'round and 'round Biern6, like a dog trying to make up his mind just where to sit down, and finally locates enough outlying farm buildings for its needs.

" All subordinate commanders will immediately take steps to improve the condition in and around billets of the organizations."

An order beginning in this wise overtakes one of the company commanders while high-stepping through the miles of mud which separate the five farms in which his two hundred and fifty babies are billeted. They are in disconsolate hay lofts, stepping about gingerly lest they fall through the cracks, debating whether to stuff the borrowed straw into the ch;nks against the wintry blast, or burrow into it for warmth. Stoves, if they had 'em, would doubtless set fire to the barns-and so, stoves and fires are forbidden. Grub time; they clamber down a ladder into the darkness of the cow-stable, where comrades not so fortunate make their home.

"If I am going to sleep here," wails a voice in the darkness, "steps must be taken to clean that cow."

The order continues: "Kitchens: Particular attention will be given to kitchens. (1) Walks will be laid and suitable steps will be taken to keep the ground well drained in and about the kitchens. (2) Bins, etc., for the storing of rations will be constructed from the boxes in which the rations are received. (3) Stringers will be laid on the ground to prevent all foodstuffs from touching the ground in any way."

A kitchen presupposes a range of some sort with fire under it. For a week there is one small field range to the company, suitable for feeding perhaps a hundred and fifty - but the government has utterly forgotten the question of fuel. Those who still have a little money in the company fund buy some wet rotten roots at an exorbitant price from the neighbors, and the few small boxes which come with the rations provide the only scraps of dry kindling with which to start the fires. Particular attention is given to the kitchen without command; the men take steps toward it three times a da , assembling from the more distant parts of France; but they see no bins until the government takes another half-step and provides a bit of fuel-a species of pressed coal dust which sifts through the grates without burning. Stone is poured into the yard which serves as kitchen, but it sinks out of sight in the mud. Attempt is made to drain the area, but still each foot print fills at once with water. Stringers are not provided. If they were, who could resist the temptation to steal the first real piece of inflammable wood to enter the area?

But to continue reading the order: " (4) All steps necessary for a most sanitary condition about the kitchen will be taken."
The Surgeon of the area has no horse. He succeeds in the course of one half day in making the rounds of one company, returns to his billet in disgust, scrapes the mud off his legs from the knees down, and makes criticisms from his desk thereafter. "Dig a hole and bury the garbage," he sagely writes, thus earning his salary for the day. Holes are dug, which fill with water, ere any garbage can be thrown in.

"Assembly Rooms: (1) Each organization will set apart a particular room or rooms where the men can assemble."

If there be an empty room anywhere about the area suitable for assembling, why, in Heaven's name not take a few unfortunates out of the cow stable and billet them properly? Besides, orders have been given for the men not to assemble, lest epidemics spread among them.

" (2) These rooms will be used for writing rooms, and be provided with such equipment as will enable the men to amuse themselves in their spare time." Warmth-stoves and wood-paper, ink, pens; tables, benches or the wood to make 'em out of; checkers, cards, reading matter; candles or lamps. Here is a great chance for the company commander to use his proverbial ingenuity and his far-famed, well-known initiative, fabricating these things out of nothing. Ali, stoves arrive! But the issue of fuel is so microscopic that none can be di-verted for any use but that of the kitchen stove.

" (3) The cooperation of the Red Cross, Y. M. C. A., K. of C. and other similar organizations will be sought in securing the necessary equipment for these rooms." In the course of four weeks, a few full steps are successfully taken. Six games of checkers arrive - a table has been borrowed, a room found and a meager issue of candles pieced out with what the men can buy.

Ali! Here is the paragraph which the company commander always expects: "This work calls for considerable initiative upon the part of all officers, and it will be the duty of each and every organization commander to detail an officer and make it his especial duty to get this work well under way and supervise it. By the exercise of initiative and ingenuity, considerable progress can be made with this work to the great benefit of the troops."

Initiative and ingenuity! How the buck is passed! Invariably the Regular Army Officer in higher command passes off the lack of proper supplies and equipment by saying: " I've been a company commander and I know these things can be done." Yes, we say-to ourselves-you had three officers, sergeants with years of service, and about eighty men in your company; there was no real war; no French town to billet in; and no homesick mob on your hands.

But the steps must go on. One supposes that if on some fine, cold night the steps should be taken from the porch of the Mairie, immediate steps would have to be taken to replace the steps which had been taken.

The Machine Gunners are off by themselves in miserable billets; but they have a good ball-field; and presently a good ball team is evolved to play in the Division League. But even without a ball-field, G Company in Bierne considers itself in luck. On that first cold night of their arrival, February 11th, seven officers of the Second Battalion were not at all happy over the prospect of walking a kilo out into the country, to dine with the Mayor. But when they entered the lovely Chateau de la Barre, and were there given the keys to the city by the genial Baron de Chivre and his attractive family, things were looking up. In fact, a great many officers of the Regiment promptly came over to look up those who were on the inside-until within a very short time, almost any bright afternoon might disclose a group of en-thusiasts playing "bazz-boll" in the courtyard. Many an indoor baseball fell into the moat. And many a cup of tea was stirred after four-at any day of the week one chose to sneak away from the irksome military routine. Major Bozeman Bulger, who came over to guide the Second Battalion through the perils of March and April, after Major "Bill" Mack had made a terrible mistake and elected to attend a French University, at one time made the following report to the Division Publicity Officer:

" The officers and enlisted men of Company G are engaged in solving a problem so absorbing in detail that for the present it has made them forget the anxiety over heading for Amerique-that interesting country across the seas.

"Naming a horse, especially a petite femme cheval, is not as easy as one might think, especially after studying the specifications laid down by the three young daughters of the Baron de Chivre. Any soldier having any doubt on the subject may report to the commanding officer of Co. G and get a try out.

"This petite femme cheval, as the Baroness calls it, came into existence in the stall next to that occupied by a corporal and squad of Company G. This company, by the way, is entirely billeted in the stables of the Chateau de la Barre, where the Baron de Chivr6, a former Major in the French Dragoons, breeds race horses. This thoroughbred atmosphere has given a lot of morale to Company G; and Lieutenant Murphy, commanding, has had little difficulty of late in making the men keep their heads up. They also like the Baron very much; and any soldier comes to present arms by intuition when one of the Baron's young daughters passes the P. C. But that is all aside from the problem. That petite cheval has got to be named. Mlle. Catherine de Chivre says it must also have an American name, on account of it coming into life among American soldiers; also that the name must begin with a 'T' on ac-count of the ancestry of the tiny little animal. You may not know it, but this petite cheval has a grandfather who won the Grand Prix de Paris and an uncle who won the Derby.

" 'Il faut que les soldats Americains give to the cheval its name," insists the Baroness."

"'Aussi,' chimes in the seventeen-year Mlle. Jacqueline de Chivre. 'Il est necessaire a remem-ber que it iss une petite femme.'
"'C'est ca,' observes the first sergeant, that being all that he knows how to say; but the corporal adds 'Exactement making everything all right.

" The first name suggested was 'Toot-sweet, a private having an idea of speed, especially toward home. Objections were raised on the ground that it was not 'Americaine.' Then came 'T. N. V (heavy stuff) from a buck who lives down near Sheepshead Bay.

Lieutenent Murphy suggested 'Tippecanoe,' but it was impossible to get the idea of the American Indian home to the French nobility. Somebody then suggested 'Topsy,' 'Tennessee,' 'Totem,' 'Trop Vite,' 'Take Cover,' 'Top Sergeant' (here there was a chorus of noes), 'Tip Toe,' etc.

"And there it stands. Nothing has been decided. None of them are sufficiently 'jolie' or suggestive of all the specifications according to the Mademoiselles; and the soldiers have gone back to their stalls to think it over.
"In the meantime Lieutenant Murphy is preparing a memorandum for the Intelligence and Operations Officers with request that helpful aid be given 'by written endorsement hereon.'

"The Baron says that, if necessary, the official christening can be put off until word comes from America. This petite femme cheval is not in the army and the dam and sire do not require a report submitted 'not later than 6 P. M. today.'

The Regimental Show begins to take on a professional air, the Jewish Welfare Board opens up a tent in Biern6 and invites the Episcopalian Chaplain to conduct a Catholic Mass therein; the entertainment officers and the athletic officers find plenty to do. Life wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for the constant reviews, hiking at four in the morning with the unexpended portion of the day's rations in order to go over into the next county to show the General that the shoes are still muddy. Many a company commander has often wondered what would happen if he should yield to temptation and bring his company upon the field with packs full of straw instead of the ordinary weighty contents-what would happen if he were then unexpectedly given the command to lay out full equipment! He might be seen leaping over the distant horizon like a gazelle, headed straight for the nearest base port. As an alternative, he might burst into tears and say " Do your worst, Gen."

Miss Turner and Miss Weeks, who operate the Y. M. C. A. canteen in B ouere, swear that they never did say, sweetly, "Bring your cups to Mother, Buddy." Nevertheless, the chocolate they pour out and which they indefatigably cart to all points wherever troops gather, threatens to put some of the cafes out of business. The madame who runs the estaminet across the street can't understand why the authorities should close up her shop at an early hour, while the " Cafe Christian" runs full tilt.

One has to confess at this point that f or some, the " Y. M. C. A. cognac " did not appear completely satisfying-not with the Prohibitionists voting America dry, while they were far off and could have no say. Despite the constant pressure, cognac continued to be sold, which occasioned a bit of work-sorry to admit-for the Courts Martial.

The General Court convenes in Bouere at ten-thirty, to ladle out justice. By eleven o'clock, all but two of the members have arrived. No doubt the feather-beds and wash-stand detract somewhat from the dignity of the court-room. But no matter!

"Hullo, Bob! How are you? Billets comfortable? That so? Yeah, same old story, isn't it."
Only one missing, now.

"I declare, it's warmer with the window open than with it closed. No, I guess it's warmer with it closed. Close the window, will you, Bob? Some-ne see if they can't steal a few bits of fire-wood from the old lady. These tile floors are brutally cold-particularly for a bedroom. How th~ devil do you work this fireplace?-Oh, ah, oui, oui, Madame, beaucoup! "
Ah! Eleven-thirty; all present. "There, Lieutenant, sit down at the extreme right."

Counsel enters with the accused. The judges are sworn. The court is sworn. The reporter is sworn. Everybody swears to everything, so help them God. The accused-is he the accused? He 'lows as how he is. Does the accused object to being tried by any member of the court as constituted? Passing up the opportunity of telling what he really thinks of the third officer from the left, be steals a furtive glance at the members who glower dignifiedly from their uncomfortable bench and rest their august elbows upon the plank- and-saw-horse table. The trial proceeds.

Court is closed. Court is opened, but justice is delayed until the prisoner, who has just stepped over to the caf6, can be found. Ah, here he is. The cigarettes are hastily subdued beneath the table. Court closes again. It opens again. It quivers. A little more of this setting-up exercise, and the court will be able to open and close at will.

Accused elects to make a statement, setting forth the mitigating circumstances:

" When I was very young I couldn't talk. In fact, for a long time I couldn't talk at all. But when I got a little older, 1 finally learned to talk a little better. Then I went to school. I went to school and was verv nervous. All this time, I was learning to talk-"

"The accused is reminded," suggests the President of the Court, breaking all precedents, "to confine-"
"I object," interposes counsel.

"Objection sustained," from the judge Advocate.
-learning to talk. Then I left school. I wasn't very strong. Oh, I forgot-I was born in Brooklyn. I wasn't strong. I was weak. And I went to work in a box factory-in Brooklyn-making boxes. I couldn't get along very well-making boxes-but I could talk a little better by this time. Then, one day, a piano fell on me. I learned to play the piano-"

" Come to the facts," risks the President. (Short and snappy-like, ere the counsel can leap to his feet and object.) Bobby Morgan's Siberian mouse-hound thinks he heard a command of execution, emerges from beneath the table, yawns, and sniffs the prisoner. Captain McKay's wandering pencil decorates another square foot of board. The members begin to fidget, hoping the court will soon be closed again, and feel of their coat pockets to see if the cigarettes are handy.

"-the piano. Then I got a job in a feed place, in Brooklyn. Hay and straw and feed. One day I fell out of the loft, and I couldn't talk for two days. Then a bale of hay fell on me out of the second story. I decided that this work was too hard for me, and so I got another job, in New York this time, 28 Vesey Street, I think. No, it was 38. No, I'm pretty sure it was 28."

Twenty-eight minutes later the defense rests. So does everybody else. Six-and-six. " justice is done.

What point have we got to now, in this story? Isn't it almost time to shut up shop and call it a war? Aren't the troops of the Three Hundred and Fifth about to leave for the United States? Not just yet, for there is still to be a merry, mad whirl of inspections-inspections for this, inspections for that -all equipment, no equipment; inspections for, er-cooties, too.

"You will report by such and such a date," the order reads, "that -your regiment is free from louse-infestation. The Division Surgeon reports 'that the degree of infestation in your command is one per cent."

The adjutant wonders if that means one louse per man; but being a stickler for precise English, he finds it very simple to comply with the order. He pigeon-holes it, and on 4 ' such and such" a date writes to the Powers That Be: "In compliance with Order so and so, this Regiment is reported free from louse-infestation."

But that doesn't seem to purify the command. A machine is brought to town, which looks like a cross between an incinerator and a farm tractor. It is most efficient-it burns not only the cooties, but the clothes. A couple of privates in the Sanitary Corps chose at random out of a thousand men in their Battalion a certain number to be purged. But liaison is lacking, the companies are not informed, and again, the company commanders "reply by endorsement hereon" why the men are not free from "louse-infestation."

The matter is becoming serious. A "louse" officer is designated in each company, whose delectable task it is to go right down the line scrutinizing in the broad light of day the inner surfaces of man's most intimate apparel. Segregation, new clothes, sunshine, the water cure, kerosene, gasoline-every known means of purifying the command is attempted. But the process does not end with that.

It is said that the one hundred lousiest men will be sent to the Army of Occupation-the Army of no occupation, the boys call it. It is said, too, that the lousiest company with its officers will go as well. Why treat the Third Army in that fashion? Or the Germans, for that matter? Anyhow, these threats and an utterly, incomprehensible louse contest succeed in boiling down the Regiment to a handful of known offenders. We boil their clothes. Only one case of infestation remains. Presently the marked man reports that a new outfit of clothes and a rigorous ob-servation on the part of the Sanitary Detachment have rendered him absolutely free. As he speaks a big gray-back saunters over the neckband of his blouse, and "shimmies" three times around the collar ornament are dying by the hand of the officer to whom the report is made. The Regiment is pure!

Now for a round of gaiety, to make us think that the A. E. F. is a great institution! The General gives a royal party at his castle in Sable. All officers are ordered to a lecture in that same town, to hear what tremendous things the A. E. F. accomplished. Major Harris gives a dance and Promotion Party for the Chaplain at the Hotel St. Denis. A formal luncheon is staged at one of our numerous chateaux in honor of the nobility of the region who have been so kind to us; two of them ap-pear. Dear old Poire, demobilized, comes down to gloat over his old compatriots still in the Army, and is wined and dined for three days straight, the following tribute being paid to him by Captain Kenderdine-as soon as "Phil" Gray would stop talking:

" Two or three pictures of Lieutenant Poire stand out vividly in my mind.

"One of these is at Camp Madelon, where we were in reserve position before the jump-off of September 26th. It was here that Lieutenant Poire perpetrated the greatest fraud ever perpetrated by a Frenchman on the American Government. He convinced us that the one way to solve our transportation problem was by the use of twelve French asses Furthermore, Lieutenant Poire in-sisted upon our calling these little animals asses when they were nothing but mules. Their title and presence around Regimental Headquarters cause much amusement and gave the cue for many jests.

"Personally, I cannot remember ever having seen these asses. I am sure they existed, though ( I believe in a little, abandoned water hole near Regimental Headquarters), for Lieutenant Poire kept reminding me of their existence by insisting that they could not travel more than half as far in a day as we wanted them to, and that their ration of hay and oats had to be weighed to the last ounce before each meal and fed to them with a spoon.

"One day when I was dizzy with details preparatory to the jump-off, a very seedy-looking French soldier wandered into the P. C. and told me he wanted to see the French asses. My suspicions were aroused. I suggested to him that he communicate with them in writing and that I would have them answer by endorsement. But after pestering me with several minutes of 'Comprenez-vous' and 'qu 'est ce que c'est,' he convinced me that he really had to see the asses.

" I had convinced him that he might have his wish, however, and bawled out 'Runner! take this man to the French asses,' and dismissed the matter from my mind. In fifteen minutes the runner returned, saluted and reported: 'Sir, Lieutenant Poir6 is asleep."'

Following which, the First Battalion gives a dance in Boue're.
For enlisted men only.
Oh-there is one officer present, beating a dilapidated piano.
A second lieutenant.
Look at the old court-house.
The rough brick floor.
Hob nails.

Seven girls, recruited from the neighboring canteens.
Four million men awaiting their turn.
They wear red, white, or blue ribbons.
At seven P. M. a burly sergeant of the guard with a small but select detachment
parades once about the floor, subtly reminding the boys to don their party manners.
waster of Cere-monies blows the whistle and shouts,
The fight is on.
The red ribbons
dash madly for the seven trembling girls. Two sergeants grab at a slender right arm. Two corporals clutch the left.

The same victim is variously attacked by five others, simultaneously; But the private whose 0. D. clasps her waist retains the prize. Twice around the floor. The whistle blows again. "Blues." Master of Ceremonies wears blue. He is suspected of having waited until that little blonde came near. Four times around, this time. " Whites." The whites swarm over the dancing blues. He loses who taps the dancing male politely. The cave man always wins. Perspiring red faces. Ye Antique Boston Dip, knees bumping the floor. Bodies bobbing up and down like jumping-jacks. Shoulders quivering like insane walking-beams. Breathless conversation. Reds, whites, blues again and again in rapid succession. And then some. No relief for the Queen Bees.

At 10:30 the four remaining candles are spluttering. The Second Lieutenant at the piano is now pounding on wood. He is unconscious. The war is over when Lieut.-Colonel Herr mercifully appears to invite seven weary heroines, hair disheveled, boots streaked with mud, blue aprons awry, to partake of sandwiches and coffee at Headquarters. " Goo-night, Miss. See y' at th' Canteen termorra. "

"Figure it out for yourself," says the doughboy. "We've been in this area two months, a hundred and fifty miles from Brest. The Atlantic Ocean is three thousand miles wide. Figure it out" The hardest battle of the war is not yet won. But presently, the couriers' motorcycles wear out; the com-manding officer's car falls apart; the telephones are taken down; the ration limbers are scrubbed, polished, examined under a microscope and turned in, the 15th of April approaches and Lieut.-Colonel Herr can hardly wait until his Regiment pulls out with a clean bill from the inhabitants. An American locomotive rustles us down to Brest overnight. There we are amazed at the order and efficiency of a debarkation camp which calamity howlers had pro-nounced a hole. The men are examined, inspected, and pronounced perfect.

We see the Mount Vernon sail on the 18th, bearing the Division Commander. Our Aquitania pulls out of port the next day and passes it. We survive an epidemic of the "flu." We listen to the band-which by this time is some band. We see the poor old Personnel Officer gradually going stark mad from a surfeit of paper work. We prick our thumbs sewing a second gold service stripe upon the left sleeve and feel that when the Auxiliary steams down the harbor with the Committee of Welcome they will feel mighty darned proud of us.

They do-on the 24th. The Statue of Liberty would look pretty good, if the rain didn't almost completely obscure it. "Old Girl," says an old-timer, "if you ever look me in the face again, you'll have to turn 'round on your pedestal! "

" Willie, Oh, Will-ee! " shrieks a voice up from a tiny gasolene launch. And Sergeant Bill, too bashful for any display of emotion, at the same time perfectly willing to convey the impression that he has forgotten all the English he ever knew, shouts back at his sweetheart, "No compree. "

How did these men feel about their homecoming? Who knows? They -were too happy to express it. All they cared about was a reunion with the folks. They got it so on. Those ten days at Camp Mills, preceding the parade up Fifth Avenue on the 6th of May, going through the formality of another cleaning, issuing passes to bulky groups, losing all track of the A. W. 0. L.'s, performing the hundred and one-paper precautions leading up to the discharge at Camp Upton on the 9th, were a perfect riot. The Regiment evaporated. It seemed as if at one minute there had been a well-organized and functioning unit, and that in the next, it was nothing. There was no time for sentiment. Those who wanted to say "Farewell," forgot to. No one could do anything. About all they really cared for was getting back to the home they had left- as they had left it-and back to the old job-or a better one, which they deserved. Not, of course, forgetting the Army's sixty-dollar bonus.

Yet, at a spread where the old Camp Upton veterans of one company -tried to blow in at one fell swoop the unexpended portion of their Ration Savings, there was something akin to sentiment displayed. Speeches were demanded. The noisiest, loudest non-coms. and privates in the world were suddenly stricken dumb.

"I'll say to you men just what you said to me when I was once sent off to school," said the Top Sergeant, in response to a toast, the mixture being the juices of canned pineapple, canned peaches, canned apricots, oranges and grape-juice. "Good luck and good riddance."

"There are still too many oranges and bananas left to be thrown, so I'll close without beginning," was the Mess Sergeant's contribution.

"I'll tear up all the forms six-thirty-seven if you'll let me off," responded the Supply Sergeant.
"Too busy with this ice-cream to have anything to do with you," was the gracious effort of the first platoon leader.
"I'll give you the shortest address I know," said the Sergeant of the fourth platoon: "Twelve twenty Beaufort Avenue, Richmond Hill; drop in any time."

Then cries rent the air, demanding a word from him who had originated- during the Rout of Watten-the phrase, "No eat-no fight." A swarthy little fellow was boosted to the table-top, where he launched into a burst of Italian which will probably never appear in print, but ended in broken English:

"All-a right. We through-a da war. Now we be all-a time like-a we be in da Arm'-good-a solge', good-a boy, good-a luck!"
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Manitowoc Public School District