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behind a tree. I heard particularly one big gun fire, and wondered if
by any chance it was meant for us. It took only three or four seconds
to confirm my suspicion, for the shriek of a shell came our way. As
they often pass high over our heads and we are familiar with the sound,
I was still in doubt, when it burst not fifty yards away. We did not
wait to investigate further, but jumped for the _boyau_ when another
shriek was heard, and we were just in time, for the shell burst not
far behind us. We could tell when they were firing at us, for we could
hear the gun fire, - it sounded like a 150 mm., which is about 6-inch
bore, - then came the shriek, and then the bursting. It certainly is a
strange, unwelcome sound when you know you are the target. We ran down
the _boyau_ toward the back of the hill for all we were worth, and they
followed us, but we did not stop to look or listen, we almost rolled
down the other side of the hill, but it was to safety, thank Heaven.
The only thing that happened to me was a scratch on the back of my
hand. Never again! The sensation of shells coming at one is novel but
nauseating, and I keep away from the lines from now on.


I must tell you that we have received a citation, and Colonel Hill's
brother the _Croix de Guerre_ for the work we did during the attack
of October 15 to 19. Two more citations and we receive, each one, the
_Croix de Guerre_.

L. C. D.


_Poignant Impressions_

I had a wild ride last night in the rain. A German shell landed in a
town only two kilometres from the front and killed four civilians and
wounded one woman. I had to go and get her. For two kilometres the road
runs over a slight rise in the plain, in full view of the Germans. It
is all screened off with brush cut and stuck up along the side toward
the lines, but here and there the brush was blown down by the terrific
wind which came with the storm. We could not use lights, but we did
not need them, for, though it was raining like fury, the Germans were
sending up illuminating bombs which lighted up the country for miles
around. They are the most fascinating yet weird things you have ever
witnessed. This ball of fire rises from the trenches to a height of
one hundred feet, and then floats along slowly through the air for a
quarter of a mile, illuminating everything around. At one time one
came directly for us, and we stopped the car and watched it. At the
roadside stood a huge crucifix, and, as this ball of fire approached,
it silhouetted the cross, and all we could see was the beautiful shadow
of the figure on the cross rising from the earth against the weird glow
of white fire. It seemed like the sacrifice of Calvary and the promise
of success for poor France.

[Illustration: ONE OF OUR CARS IN TROUBLE]

[Illustration: COFFINS IN COURTYARD OF BASE HOSPITAL IN ALSACE - AMONG
THEM RICHARD HALL'S]

We did not dare to use our low speed for fear the _Boches_ would
hear us, so we tore over this road on high, rushing past the bare
spots, afraid of being seen. The illuminating bombs are used for this
purpose only; the one which came toward us went out before it
reached us, for which we were grateful. We got the woman. She had to
have her arm amputated.


_December 27_

We have had very strenuous times, as a big attack has just taken place
and the wounded have come in so fast and so badly cut up they could not
give them the care they would like to, as everything is so crowded. The
Germans lost a lot of trenches, and almost two thousand of them were
taken prisoners. They have been shelling the French lines and towns
constantly; since the 22d, our cars have been more or less under fire.
We moved our quarters about six kilometres nearer the line and bring
the wounded in to the hospital three times a day. The Germans shelled
this place, - why we do not know, for there is nothing military here but
the hospital, and why should people of any intelligence and feeling
wish to shell a hospital?

One of our men was killed on Christmas Day and we are terribly broken
up over it. He was going from this hospital to the _poste_ we go to
daily over a road up the mountain. At four o'clock Christmas morning
one of our boys started up this road, which goes up and up with no
level place on it. He passed the middle of the journey when he thought
he noticed a wagon turned over about forty feet down in the ravine.
He went to a point where he could stop his car, took his lantern, and
walked back. He found one of our Fords so demolished it could not be
distinguished. The top of the car was up in a tree and so were the
extra tires; there was nothing on the ground but a chassis. He saw no
one around, but on going down a little farther, he saw a bundle of
blankets which we always carry for the wounded, and, on walking up to
it, he found one of our fellows, Dick Hall. He was lying on his side
with his arms fixed as if driving and in a sitting position, cold and
rigid. He had been dead a couple of hours. Walter, who found him, went
back up the road for assistance, and, while there, Hall's brother
came along in his car and asked what the matter was and offered his
assistance. Walter told him his brakes were not working and he was
fixing them, so Hall, knowing nothing of his brother, passed on up the
mountain, got his load of wounded, and took them to the hospital.

[Illustration: RICHARD HALL'S CAR AFTER SHELL LANDED UNDER IT]


_In the Hospital_

_January 1, 1916_

This brings the war home to us! This and the suffering and torments of
the wounded make me sick at heart. I have seen them suffer particularly
since this last attack, as I am a _blessé_ myself - and am in a French
hospital. It is only a slight arm wound; the bone is cracked a little,
but not broken. I am here to have the piece of shell drawn out and am
assisting these poor wounded all I can. I was sent to the _poste_ we
have nearest the lines, on the other side of the mountain and hidden
in the woods. The trenches begin at this _poste_. The _poste_ itself is
an _abri_, a bomb-proof dug-out in the ground. The roof and supports
are made of timbers a foot or more thick, over these are placed two
feet of heavy rock and again two feet of earth. When I got there the
Germans began bombarding, and fired shells into these woods and into
this _poste_ for almost five hours. I never want to see another such
bombardment; it was frightful. I saw shells land among horses, smash
big trees in half within ten and twenty yards. I saw three men hit; one
had his face shot away. The _poste_ became so full of wounded we had
to stand near the doorway, which is partly protected by a bomb-proof
door. It was not exactly safe inside, for the shells, if big enough,
when they hit such an _abri_ often loosen the supports, and the roof,
weighing tons, falls in and buries people alive. A man in the same room
with me in the hospital here was in an _abri_ not far from where we
were when it was struck; the roof fell and killed three men who were
with him and he was buried for an hour. A shell struck a tree not eight
feet off from where we were standing and smashed it in half; it fell
and almost killed one of two _brancardiers_ (stretcher-bearers) who
were carrying a dead man past the door. A piece of the _éclat_ hit the
other _brancardier_ in the head and killed him. The man standing beside
me had his hand shot off, and I got hit in the elbow. Three pieces went
through my coat, but only one went into the arm. If I had not been
standing against the door I might have fared worse. I was carried with
two other wounded by one of our fellows up the steep mountain road
to our second _poste_. They were bombarding that road as well as the
_poste_. We could see the sky redden from the flash of the guns below
and we could hear the shells shriek as they came toward us, and the
_éclat_ not too far away. Twice we started the Ford on the way up; it
stalled and took five precious minutes to get it going again. The force
of one explosion knocked the fellow with me over when he walked ahead
to try and make out the road. We stuck in the road twice, not daring
to pass a wagon conveying munitions. We could not make the hill, it
was so steep, and we had to seek men to push us. It was pitch-black
and we could not use our lights. This with two gravely wounded men
on our hands rather took the nerve out of us. We finally got back to
headquarters and found them bombarding there, one shell having struck
not far from the hospital.


_January 20_

I am still in the hospital, but am glad to say my arm is almost quite
well again. It does take time. The bombardment by the Germans of all
our former _postes_ has become pretty nerve-racking. The house we
took for the attack has been hit twice. We had moved out only the day
before. They struck a schoolhouse close by and killed a nun and wounded
three harmless children. Our cars have been hit by scraps of shell, but
fortunately when none of the men were in them.

The suffering of the men in this hospital and the cries in the night
make it an inferno. Though I am glad I can help a little, I must say it
is on my nerves.

In this hospital - which is one of the best - they need very badly beds
for men who have had their vertebræ broken. These men live from two
to six months in a frame on their backs all the time. This is the way
they spend the last months of their lives. We have three men in this
condition now, and each time they are moved it takes at least four
men to change them and they suffer terribly. The special beds I speak
of are made on pulleys with bottom and sides which can be opened for
washing and service purposes. They cost forty dollars and France cannot
afford to buy them, as she has so many needs. If you could raise some
money for this purpose, you would be doing these poor fellows the last
favors they will have on this earth and help them in their suffering.

L. C. D.

[Illustration]


_New Quarters_

_August 6, 1915_

I was delighted to see "Doc" to-day. He arrived yesterday evening from
Paris, but I was on M - - duty, so we did not meet until this morning.
We had a long talk and I told him the story of the fatal 22d; the
recital of it only seems to have reimpressed me with the horror of that
night.

[Illustration: A "POSTE DE SECOURS" AT MONTAUVILLE]

We are now quite comfortably settled in our new quarters, a house
never shelled until just after our occupation of it, when we received
a 77 a few feet from our windows. I do not know why it has been spared
unless the _Boches_ were anxious not to destroy a creation so obviously
their own. Architecturally it is incredible - a veritable pastry
cook's _chef d'oeuvre_. Some of the colors within are so vivid that
hours of darkness cannot drive them out of vision. There is no piano,
but musical surprises abound. Everything you touch or move promptly
plays a tune, even a stein plays "_Deutschland über alles_" - or
something. Still the garden full of fruit and vegetables will make up
for the rest. Over the brook which runs through it is a little rustic
bridge - all imitation wood made of cast iron! Just beneath the latter
I was electrified to discover a very open-mouthed and particularly
yellow crockery frog quite eighteen inches long! A stone statue of a
dancing boy in front of the house was too much for us all. We ransacked
the attic and found some articles of clothing belonging to our absent
hostess, and have so dressed it that, with a tin can in its hand, it
now looks like an inadequately clad lady speeding to her bath-house
with a pail of fresh water.

Last night "Mac" and I were on night duty at M - - , and when we
arrived at the telephone bureau - where we lie on stretchers fully
dressed in our blankets waiting for a call (the rats would keep you
awake if there were no work to do) - we were told that they expected a
bad bombardment of the village. "Mac" and I tossed up for the first
call, and I lost. "Auberge Saint-Pierre, I bet," laughed "Mac." That
is our worst trip - but it was to be something even more unpleasant
than usual. About eleven o'clock the _Boches_ started shelling the
little one-street village with 105 shrapnel. In the midst of it a
_brancardier_ came running in to ask for an ambulance - three _couchés_,
"_très pressé_." Of course, I had to grin and bear it, but it is a
horrid feeling to have to go out into a little street where shells are
falling regularly - start your motor - turn - back - and run a few yards
down the street to a _poste de secours_ where a shell has just landed
and another is due any moment.

"Are your wounded ready?" I asked, as calmly as I could. "_Oui,
monsieur._" So out I went - and was welcomed by two shells - one on my
right and the other just down the street. I cranked up N{o} 10, the
_brancardier_ jumped up by my side, and we drove to our destination.
I decided to leave the ambulance on the left side of the road (the
side nearer the trenches and therefore more protected by houses from
shell-fire), as I thought it safer on learning that it would be fifteen
minutes before the wounded were ready; and luckily for me, for a shell
soon landed on the other side of the road where I usually leave the
ambulance. My wounded men were now ready; it appeared that one of the
shrapnel shells had entered a window and exploded inside a room where
seven soldiers, resting after a hard day's work in the trenches, were
sleeping - with the appalling result of four dead and three terribly
wounded. As I felt my way to the hospital along that pitch-black road,
I could not help wondering why those poor fellows were chosen for the
sacrifice instead of us others in the telephone bureau - sixty yards
down the street.

However, here I am writing to you, safe and sound, on the little
table by my bedside, with a half-burnt candle stuck in a Muratti
cigarette box. Outside the night is silent - my window is open and in
the draught the wax has trickled down on to the box and then to the
table - unheeded - for my thoughts have sped far. To Gloucester days, and
winter evenings spent in the old brown-panelled, raftered room, with
its pewter lustrous in the candlelight; and the big, cheerful fire that
played with our shadows on the wall, while we talked or read - and were
content. Well - that peace has gone for a while, but these days will
likewise pass, and we are young. It has been good to be here in the
presence of high courage and to have learned a little in our youth of
the values of life and death.

LESLIE BUSWELL

[Illustration]


_The Poetry of War_

We have had much talk to-night about the probable effect of the war
upon art and literature in different countries, and gradually the
discussion shifted from prophecy to history and from the abstract to
the concrete, and narrowed down to the question as to the best poem
the war has already produced. In France enough verse has been inspired
by the war to fill a "five-foot shelf" of India-paper editions, but we
all had finally to admit that none of us was in a position to choose
the winner in such a vast arena. Among the short poems in English, some
voted for Rupert Brooke's sonnet which begins: -

"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England."

But nothing that any of us has seen is more inspired than the verses
which poured from the heart and mind of a young American in the
Foreign Legion here in France. His name is Alan Seeger, and the poem
was written in, and named from, the region in which his regiment was
stationed. It is called "Champagne, 1914-15," and was printed in the
_North American Review_ for October, 1915.


CHAMPAGNE, 1914-15

In the glad revels, in the happy fêtes,
When cheeks are flushed, and glasses gilt and pearled
With the sweet wine of France that concentrates
The sunshine and the beauty of the world,

Drink, sometimes, you whose footsteps yet may tread
The undisturbed, delightful paths of Earth,
To those whose blood, in pious duty shed,
Hallows the soil where that same wine had birth.

Here, by devoted comrades laid away,
Along our lines they slumber where they fell,
Beside the crater at the Ferme d'Alger
And up the bloody slopes of La Pompelle,

And round the city whose cathedral towers
The enemies of Beauty dared profane,
And in the mat of multicolored flowers
That clothe the sunny chalk-fields of Champagne.

Under the little crosses where they rise
The soldier rests. Now round him undismayed
The cannon thunders, and at night he lies
At peace beneath the eternal fusillade....

That other generations might possess -
From shame and menace free in years to come -
A richer heritage of happiness,
He marched to that heroic martyrdom.

Esteeming less the forfeit that he paid
Than undishonored that his flag might float
Over the towers of liberty, he made
His breast the bulwark and his blood the moat.

Obscurely sacrificed, his nameless tomb
Bare of the sculptor's art, the poet's lines,
Summer shall flush with poppy-fields in bloom,
And Autumn yellow with maturing vines.

There the grape-pickers at their harvesting
Shall lightly tread and load their wicker trays,
Blessing his memory as they toil and sing
In the slant sunshine of October days.

I love to think that if my blood should be
So privileged to sink where his has sunk,
I shall not pass from Earth entirely,
But when the banquet rings, when healths are drunk,

And faces, that the joys of living fill,
Glow radiant with laughter and good cheer,
In beaming cups some spark of me shall still
Brim toward the lips that once I held so dear.

So shall one, coveting no higher plane
Than Nature clothes in color and flesh and tone,
Even from the grave put upward to attain
The dreams youth cherished and missed and might have known.

And that strong need that strove unsatisfied
Toward earthly beauty in all forms it wore,
Not death itself shall utterly divide
From the beloved shapes it thirsted for.

Alas, how many an adept, for whose arms
Life held delicious offerings, perished here -
How many in the prime of all that charms,
Crowned with all gifts that conquer and endear!

Honor them not so much with tears and flowers,
But you with whom the sweet fulfilment lies,
Where in the anguish of atrocious hours
Turned their last thoughts and closed their dying eyes,

Rather, when music on bright gatherings lays
Its tender spell, and joy is uppermost,
Be mindful of the men they were, and raise
Your glasses to them in one silent toast.

Drink to them - amorous of dear Earth as well,
They asked no tribute lovelier than this -
And in the wine that ripened where they fell,
Oh, frame your lips as though it were a kiss.

ALAN SEEGER

[Illustration]


[Illustration]

ALAN SEEGER
SOLDIER OF THE FOREIGN LEGION
KILLED IN ACTION
JULY 4, 1916

Yet, sought they neither recompense nor praise,
Nor to be mentioned in another breath
Than their blue-coated comrades whose great days
It was their pride to share, ay! share even to death.
Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks
(Seeing they came for honor, not for gain),
Who, opening to them your glorious ranks,
Gave them that grand occasion to excel,
That chance to live the life most free from stain
And that rare privilege of dying well.

_From a poem written by him in memory of American Volunteers fallen
for France, upon the occasion of a memorial service held before the
Lafayette-Washington statue on the Place des États-Unis in Paris, May
30, 1916._




XIII

FOUR LETTERS FROM VERDUN


I

[Illustration: SAUCISSE ABOVE VERDUN]

_In the Hills of France,
June 23, 1916_

_Dear Mother_, -

Your two letters of May 23d and June 4th have both arrived in the
last week, but I have been too busy and too sleepy to answer them.
They have given us a very important work as well as a dangerous
one, - to evacuate the wounded about one and a quarter miles from the
first-line trenches, - and since we have been here, about a week, our
little ambulances (holding five wounded) have carried some hundreds of
men. We are quartered in a town about four miles away from the front,
which the Germans take pleasure in shelling twice a day. About fifteen
minutes ago, while we were at breakfast, they dropped two shells,
"150's," which landed four hundred yards away; but I seem so used to
running into danger now, that it hardly affects me at all. We got
here a week ago, on Friday, and on Saturday morning I made my first
trip to our _poste de secours_ on a French machine. The first part of
the drive is through the valley, where there is a beautiful winding
river, and some pretty old towns. There you begin an ascent for about
two miles on a road which is lined with French batteries and quite
open to the view of the Germans, who have a large observation balloon
only a mile or two away. Consequently the road is fired over all the
time, so you feel that a passing shell might at any moment fall on
you. Just this morning, about four o'clock, three shells went over my
machine and broke in a field near by. When one reaches the top of the
ascent, there is a piece of road, very rough and covered with débris
of all kinds - dead horses, old carts and wheels, guns, and confusion
everywhere. This road leads to an old fort where our wounded are, and
on this road the German fire is even worse. Well, this first morning,
just before we arrived, the Germans began a bombardment which lasted
five hours. The shells landed all around us, but we finally got in
safely. It was altogether the most awful experience I have ever been
through. We discovered a small tunnel holding three of our cars, and
here I waited five hours without any breakfast, hearing the roar of
the shells - they make a noise like a loud, prolonged whistle - and then
hearing the French batteries answer with a more awful roar, because
nearer. To add to the interest, two or three gas shells exploded near
us, which made our eyes water. Luckily we had our gas masks with us,
but we had got it in our faces before we could put them on. Meanwhile,
the wounded were being carried in from the first-line trenches by the
stretcher-bearers who, by the way, are some of the real heroes of the
war. The time came for us to go out into the open in order to let
the other cars get in after us. As you may imagine, it was an awful
moment for us; however, we went along slowly but surely, and finally
we got down the hill, away from all the noise and danger. It was worth
while, though, for we were carrying many wounded with us. For a week
we have been doing this work and are all still alive; and we have
to our credit about seven hundred wounded men. The French are, of
course, very appreciative of our work. I wish that I could describe
things more fully, but I am too much "all in." I am well in spite of
the excitement, but tired to death of the horrors, the smells, and
the sights of war. We will be here but a few days more and after this
will be given an easier place for a while; so you need not worry after
receiving this. I am glad to have gotten a taste of real war, though,
so as to know what it really means.

Your affectionate son,
MALBONE
(_Birckhead_)


II

_August 9, 1916_

_Dear K._, -

It is quiet and cool to-night; the moon is shining just as it will with
you a few hours later, for it is now 9.15 here, and only 3.15 with you.
Last night it was quiet and I slept from half-past nine till seven! The
night before, however, the guns roared all night long and increased in
vigor up to six o'clock in the morning. We were waked up a little after
five o'clock by the scream of a shell which hit somewhere back of us.
The house shook amid the roar, as it always does whenever there is much
firing.

We are quartered in one of the farmhouses belonging to the château,
which is now a hospital. You remember, no doubt, the French farmhouses:
a blank wall on the roadside with only an entrance to the courtyard, a
dark kitchen, a few bedrooms, and a loft with a few sheds out back. The
loft is divided into two parts. We sleep up in the loft on stretchers
propped up from the floor by boxes or our little army trunks. Some


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