James Louis Small.

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One of the questions most frequently asked of
me on my return from France in June, 1918, was
"What is the American boy thinking about over
there?" My stock answer to this was that any man
who undertook to write a Baedeker of the Dough-
boy's Mind must in the very nature of things be a
human Argus, with a milUon eyes, and every eye an
X-ray optic at that, and a thousand hands, each
hand holding a pen with a thousand nibs. There
were two million of America's sons over there at
that time, and while at a distance of fifty yards they
all looked alike, and strode along with the same con-
fident step, and seemed rather to be cogs in a great
machine than separate entities, soldiering had not
made them any the less individual, and whatever
had been done to them by their training to reduce
or to elevate them to a type, physically their minds,
in so far as I was able to get at them, had not ceased
to function in the good old independent fashion.
There are not wanting signs that a large number of
observers who viewed it from coigns of vantage four
or five thousand miles away, and others as well who
studied the psychology of the doughboy through the
large end of a telescope, have conjured up a beauti-
ful vision of our lads rushing to the Front and over


the Top, their hearts ringing with a lyric version of
the Fourteen Points of Peace, and other highly con-
centrated forms of American Ideals, and I would be
the last person in the world to slur such a lovely
idea; but it is the sad fact that at the time the boys
were so gallantly going up and over, the Fourteen
Points had not been promulgated, and that their
main purpose and thought was to do a particularly
disagreeable job as expeditiously as possible, unham-
pered by historical afterthoughts or purely political
abstractions. Nor could I find any traces in their
minds, their hearts, or their actions, that the idea of
Peace Without Victory possessed any particular al-
lure, but on the contrary, a very decided predilec-
tion for the beating up of the Hun in such fashion
that the world would be assured against the possi-
bility of ever having to beat him up again.

There were, nevertheless, certain grooves of
thought into which their minds seemed to run. The
first had to do with Home, and they thought of that
in terms of singular beauty. Some of them^ who
had never before given much thought to Home
found it all on a sudden idealized, and they glorified
it as a sort of Eden from which they had been tem-
porarily exiled, and to which they longed to return,
but not until they had further glorified it by doing
well the thing they had left it to do. As an in-
stance of this, I recall an encounter I had with an
American doughboy early one morning in Paris. I
was breakfasting in one of those chain-restaurants


with which that fair city is afflicted, when this glori-
ous lad came into my life. Finding myself some-
what lonely, I hailed him and invited him to join
me in a poor, but reasonably honest, platter of in-
different ham and ancient eggs. . Some questioning
elicited from him the information that, however else
Paris might impress others, in his judgment it was
"a shine." He considered it "a phony burg," and
why anybody should rave over it, believe him, he
couldn't see. Whereupon I tried to tell him of some
of the things that had made the French capital a
Mecca of delight to so many thousands of his com-
patriots, and he listened with entire respect, but at
the end of my disquisition he came back upon me

"O H — 11, yes — Paris is all right; but, d — n it. It
Ain't Fort Wayne ! I"

It was a pleasing retort, and I was glad of it, and
in a very essential way, for in varying ways it was
the sentiment of most, it showed that while in all
probability the bulk of our sons overseas had al-
ways in the past taken their own country for granted,
and had thought little, if at all, on the values of
American Citizenship, they were coming back not
better Americans perhaps, but more devoted, and
more appreciative sons of America than they had
ever been before. Which is one of the benefits that,
like a lovely flower having its roots in mire, have
sprung up out of the chaos of muddy, bloody ruin
into which the War has plunged the world.


Again, they were thinking a lot of "Dad" and
"Mother," and if Dad and Mother do not al-
ready know it as well as I do, who saw them face
to face with temptations of an insidiously subtle sort,
let me record here that the vast majority of them
were as true to the ideals their fathers and mothers
had set up for them as though Dad and Mother
were right there with them day and night. I have
not had the privilege of studying at close range other
armies in the past, but I doubt if there was ever
gathered together anywhere in the world a body of
men equal in Character to those sons of ours "over
there." They not only seemed obsessed with an urge
towards the strictest kind of right conduct, but to it
they had allied a stern resolve to keep themselves
fit for the business in hand, and I have had them tell
me in specific terms, with a light in their eyes that
showed that they spoke not mere words, but their
very souls, that they would rather cut off their right
arms than by indulgence weaken their strength at a
time when every ounce of it was needed to carry
not only on but through. I was exceedingly glad to
find this frame of mind among them for a very spe-
cial reason. An official, high in authority in the
United States Government, had requested me in my
talks to the American Soldiers to warn them that
"they should not regard going to France as the op-
portunity for indulgences in Wine and Women,"
and I had informed him that I would not insult
American youth by assuming that they had any such


abominable ideas in their heads, and it was a joy to
mc when I got to France to find that my estimate of
the character of Young America was as true as his
was false, my only regret in the premises being that
such as he were permitted to have anything to do
with the destinies of our gallant boys, since in my
judgment the merest association with minds of his
type was contaminating, and to that extent demoral-
ising. Fortunately, his contacts with the active
fighting men were as limited as his knowledge as to
their intrinsic character.

A third thought common to the fighting men across
the sea was that War as it had been scientifically
developed was a "rotten business," and made addi-
tionally rotten by the way circumstances compelled
them to fight. They hated the mud of it, and they
had a shame-faced sort of feeling that the heroism
as well as the heroics of it had somehow been taken
out of it by trench warfare. Long-distance fighting
with an invisible foe was not suited to the tempera-
ment of the American boy. He is not by nature
quarrelsome, but he loves a scrap. A Rough-House
suits him to a Tee. His naturally ardent spirits
made the long, drear}', underground watching and
waiting, with its dull, dirty monotony, a thing that
irked his soul. If those that I met and talked with
could have had their way there would have been
more hand-work and less machinery^ about it. They
wanted to get out into the open and show Hans and
Fritz that back in America a real fight was a face


to face affair, in which the Party of the First Part
was a Man and not a Mole, who wanted nothing so
much as direct individual results that he could see
with his own eyes, whether the Party of the Second
Part was a bigger man than he or not. This spirit
was as strong in the men in the trenches as in those
in the air, and while none of them wished to die un-
necessarily, they were all more than willing to take
their chances, which is why they had neither to be
led nor to be driven over the top, and which, alas,
is also why many of them in their eagerness to come
to close quarters with their enemy ran into their own
barrage fire, and died from shrapnel sped from their
own guns.

As to their mental attitude toward the enemy, I
found a remarkable sense of discrimination among
them between the Man- and the Thing That the
Man Did. There was no hatred of the German as
an Individual, but a deep-seated abhorrence of the
Hun's acts and methods. A German Prisoner, save
in very rare and highly aggravated cases, was sure
to be treated v/ith more consideration by his Ameri-
can Captor than he ever received at the hands of his
own Officers, which may account for the surprising
number of Kamerads that suddenly developed upon
the battle-fields where the Americans were active. It
was a far safer place for a Hun behind the Ameri-
can forces than in front of them, and, despite his
somewhat sluggish mental processes, Fritz was not
slow to appreciate and to take advantage of the


fact. But the American Soldier had no softness in
him in action, and there his attitude towards the foe
was perhaps best expressed by the word of an Amer-
ican youth I encountered in Paris during one of his
richly-earned rest periods. The last time I had seen
that particular American lad was in an American
School three years before at a time when he was pre-
paring for College. Here in Paris I found him
scarcely less youthful in spirit, but somewhat hard-
ened physically by his strenuous experience in the
Air Service. He wore the ribbon of the Croix de
Guerre upon his breast, and it bore two palms, which
signified that he had brought down two Huns in
action. Considering his years, I thought of a ques-
tion that had often arisen in my own mind, and I
put it to him bluntly.

"Son," said I, "how does a youngster like you feel
when he realises that he has killed a couple of men^"

"I haven't," he replied simply. 'Tve only
smashed a couple of rattlesnakes."

In short, when the fighting was on in full force,
In those dark months when the enemy appeared to
be Irresistible, with General Foch as yet an unde-
termined quantity, with the British in Sir Douglas
Haig's own words, "with their backs against the
wall," and the Americans as yet untried, the boys
from over here were thinking chiefly of their Immi-
nent job, resolved to do It as well as might be, to
keep themselves fit, and dreaming of the Homeland.


If they were thinking of the future at all, it was the
future only of the actual to-morrow, certainly not
beyond it. To-day the situation is different. The
War is over, or at least active armed hostilities have
ceased until the Hun with his active Propaganda
has succeeded in disrupting the Allies, and once more
aligned the Armies the Armistice permitted to es-
cape, and it is now less of the big job of America as a
whole which has been left unfinished than their own
special jobs in the days to come that they are concern-
ing themselves with. They are already home in large
numbers, and those of us who have our eyes open
realise that they are thinking about something con-
nected with their own individual future, but in just
what terms ? In a way, it is the purpose of this little
volume to point that out. It was my privilege in
my visit to France this year, in May, June and July,
to come into a somewhat personal relation with many
of them, largely through the medium of The Com-
rades IN Service that splendid instrument of
Morale Preservation, which in the difficult days fol-
lowin^: the Armistice rendered invaluable service in
upholding the Hold Together spirit of our lads not
now fighting but marking time. And here let me di-
gress for a moment to speak of the Comrades. The
Comrades in Service movement — for it has been a
movement rather than an organisation throughout
its brief history — furnishes a fine illustration of the
adaptability of the real American spirit. It owes
its origin to Prof. O. D. Foster, of Chicago, who.


in his service at the front and in the S.O.S., had
come to feel very strongly that now was the ap-
pointed time to utilise and so far as possible to per-
petuate those great unifying influences which had
been bom of the war and without which Amer-
ica never could have played its wonderful part in
the liberation of the world. His contact with the
men of the A.E.F. had convinced him of three things :
first, that every American is an idealist ; second, that
no amount of military training would destroy his
disposition to do things for himself in his own way
instead of merely leaving it all to some one in Wash-
ington or at G.H.Q. ; and, third, that in spite of his
intense individualism, he was a friendly person, not
caring very much as to the creed, politics or perma-
nent residence of his neighbour in arms but demand-
ing chiefly that he be a "regular fellow," willing to
share his last blanket or his last cigarette with his

With these things in mind, Dr. Foster started his
first Comrades in Service Company Club at Gievres,
France, adopting a name given to a similar organi-
sation he had directed while Y.M.C.A. secretary at
Camp Custer, Illinois. The men responded enthu-
siastically to the suggestion that they organise them-
selves (rather than be organised) into a club officered
by themselves, choosing and promoting their own
activities and filled with the spirit which the name
implied. Encouraged by this success, and seeing the
great need and opportunity presented after the sign-


ing of the Armistice, Dr. Foster made bold to out-
line his plan to Bishop Charles H. Brent, Senior
Chaplain, G.H.O., and to Mr. E. C. Carter, Chief
Secretary of the Y.M.C.A.; Mr. E. L. Hearn, Chair-
man Overseas Commission, Knights of Columbus;
Rabbi H. G. Enelow, Director Jewish Welfare
Board, and Col. W. S. Barker, Commander of the
Salvation Army. As a result of these conferences, an
agreement was made providing for the fullest co-op-
eration between the different agencies represented
with a view to presenting and promoting the Move-
ment among the officers and enlisted men of the
A.E.F. At a great mass meeting in the Palais de
Glace in Paris, January 12, 1919, attended by Presi-
dent Wilson and over 5,000 members of the A.E.F.,
the project was formally launched and at once heart-
ily endorsed by the representative gathering.

Quarters were first secured at the Religious Work
Department of the Y.M.C.A., but very soon these
proved inadequate, and Chaplain Edwin F. Lee,
U. S. Army, personal representative of Bishop Brent,
was installed in offices in Paris furnished by the
Army and a personnel provided by the Army and
Welfare organisations began to be built up. In the
carrying out of the plan, the Army furnished Chap-
lains and other officers and enlisted men, quarters,
office equipment and supplies and printed an official
handbook. The Welfare Organisations provided
funds and personnel, together with use of huts and
other facilities. Publicity was given through the is-


suance of a bi-weekly bulletin, of which nearly a
million copies have been printed and distributed.
Several booklets, chief among which were Professor
Soares' book on "Old Testament Studies in Comrade-
ship," Malcolm Dana's "The War in Terms of Com-
radeship," and Professor Collier's "A New World
in the Making," and a large amount of miscellaneous
literature were also distributed in large quantities.

The activities favored and promoted by the men
in the Company Clubs varied all the way from a non-
sectarian Bible class or a personal purity propaganda
to a Jazz Band minstrel show or a forensic meet.
Various Welfare agencies had before this time done
more for the American Army than was ever done else-
where for any group of similar men. But here was
a chance for the men to do something for themselves
and for each other, and to do it in their own way.
The special interest of the men in the discussion of
public questions led to the establishment of a Forum
department to provide topics for discussion and
where practicable speakers as well. In addition, at
least half a million men were addressed in mass meet-
ings, called for the purpose of preparing the minds
of the soldiers for return to civilian life, the motive
being furnished in the motto, "We are to be mus-
tered out of America's Army, but we are not to be
mustered out of America's service."

The original plan called for the formation of a
veterans' association along these lines, but when the
American Legion was organised by the officers and


men of the A.E.F., and after consultation with the
Central Council of Comrades in Service, adopted al-
most in its entirety the platform and principles of
Comrades in Service, it was thought best to co-operate
with the American Legion rather than to attempt to
organise a rival veterans' association, with the under-
standing that this co-operation would continue as
long as the American Legion should be conducted
upon that basis, and that the Comrades in Service as
a purely military organisation among the men of the
A.E.F. should cease to function with the return of
the A.E.F. to America.

From May first until military necessities com-
pelled a cessation of activities and the dissolution
of the original organisation in the A.E.F., material
assistance has been given the Comrades in Service
Movement by the action of General John J. Per-
shing, Commander-in-Chief, in placing at the disposal
of Comrades in Service the sum of over 100,000
francs given by the Chicago Tribune to be used in
whatever way General Pershing thought would be of
greatest benefit to the soldiers. In announcing his
decision. General Pershing said : "I have decided that
this generous gift can be expended in no better way
than by assisting the Comrades in Service, which af-
fects and reaches every individual member of the
A.E.F." General Pershing has since expressed the
desire that the Movement be established as a perma-
nent feature in the regular army, with such modifi-
cations as peace conditions may require.


In accordance with the spirit of this suggestion, a
Continuation Committee has been organised in the
U.S.A. and has appointed a subcommittee, of which
Dr. Arthur W. Grose, of Rochester, New York, is
the Chairman, to work for the permanent incorpora-
tion of the principles of Comrades in Service in the
army and navy and their perpetuation through the
American Legion and Community Service, Incor-

With disintegrating and demoralising forces at
work on every side, in the days of the great recon-
struction not less than in the days of the Great War,
there is need for the unifying and genuinely con-
structive influence of that unselfish spirit of service
which has characterised those Comrades in Arms
who upon the battle-fields of France have laid the
foundations for a new and greater America in a new
and greater world.

In pursuance of an arrangement with this organi-
sation, I was permitted access to our men, and I
found them thinking hard and variously of several
things, many of them lads of true vision wondering
if the thing they had come over to do had really been
done with a decisive finality, and uneasily sensing
an actual loss of victory in the fact that having the
enemy bagged they had been compelled by the Arm-
istice to let him escape ; many of them openly hoping
that the Peace Treaty would not be accepted by Ger-
many so that they might advance, and History not
have to record a failure to carry through ; but all of


them thinking loyally and lovingly of Home, and
both its relation to them and theirs to it. They were
for the most part like a cast of actors in a great drama
approaching its final curtain wondering what their
next role was to be. In the occupied territory of
Germany they were still close enough to their po-
tential enemies to be thinking primarily of them, and
their unsatisfied need for further discipline ; but else-
where, as I saw them in France, America was the
burden .of their thoughts. To concrete their ideas
definitively was of course impossible, and it was here
that Comrades in Service, in my judgment, ren-
dered a signal service not only to the men them-
selves, but to those of us at home as well who seek
a leading insight into the innermost recesses of the
soldier mind. In May, 1919, to stimulate self-ex-
pression among the men, at the suggestion of Capt.
Leon Schwarz, U. S. Army, three prizes were of-
fered of 500, 250, and 100 francs, respectively, for
the three best essays on the topic, "Home — Then
What?" the subject having been selected by Chap-
lain H. C. Fraser, U. S. Army. Although only a
brief time could be given for the writing of these
papers owing to the rapid movement of our troops
to America, several hundred were sent in to the
Judges, representatives of the Paris editions of the
New York Herald^ the Chicago Tribune^ and the
London Daily Mail. The essays here presented have
been selected from these, and as a whole, perhaps,
present the best symposium of soldier thought in ex-


istence to-day. Indeed, to me they are more than
that, for as I read them over and over again, I seem
to glimpse not only the minds of our boys, but also
to find in them a wonderful revelation of the Soul
of our New America, bom in the muck and mire of
War, and bred in the blood of an unselfish devotion
to the highest ideals of Service.

John Kendrick Bangs.

Ogunquit, Maine ^ September 30, 1919.



The Prize Essays

First Prize: Marcelle H. Wallenstein . . 25

Second Prize: Joshua B. Lee 32

Third Prize : Geo. F. Hudson 40

Selected Essays 46

Selected Extracts 220



The nights we spent where the Bochc flares lent

Their red to the moonlit sky
Are now forgot, and another spot

Is luring our footsteps nigh;
The hard heart thrills, for the rookie drilli

Are things of a soldier past,
And gleams of home from across the foam

Are calling us all at last.

When rifles rust and the dingy dust

Collects on the I. D. R.,
Our thoughts will grope for the periscope

With visions of fields afar :
Of parts we played and of pals we made

That drift through a golden dream
That waits beyond with the halcyon

When memory reigns supreme.

J. P. C. in the last number of

The Stars and Stripes

June 13th, 1919.



Marcelle H. Wallenstein,

Pvt. 1 c. 104th Aerial Photo Section A.E.F.,
Weissenthurm, Germany.
Home Address: 416 N. 3rd St.,

Atchison, Kansas.

Come September — the promises of Congress bear-
ing fruit — and the A. E. F. will be a memory. The
first goal is home; the Yank in Europe must trade
his o. d. for mufti before whatever ideas and ideals
he has accumulated become correlated and codified.
Then, living under conditions that make for freer
self-expression, his theories and gropings should find
their way to the surface. Assimilation into the life
of his homeland will lie in the conflict between his
changed attitude and whatever conditions there are
to oppose it. Events at home already presage such
a conflict.

The veteran will hop into politics much as he

went for enemy machine gun nests, or followed the



barrage of his artillery, and, it is to be hoped, with
as clear a head. Which does not mean that every
buck private who crossed the Atlantic has aspira-
tions for Congress, nor does it follow that he will
take to the chautauqua platform or the soap box
and proceed to howl himself into immediate dis-
favour. Not that. Still he is going into politics
with an exploring forefinger, poking any number
of holes into flimsy half measures, stripping away
camouflage; prodding certain individuals farther
than pre-election promises. This time and the next
will find him looking under the band of the cam-
paign cigar, and trying to do the same in regard
to what lies under the hats of the men who want
to represent him at Washington, at his state capital,
and even in the council chambers of his home town.
Certainly the man home from Europe will inject
the prophylaxis against the germ of any national

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Online LibraryJames Louis SmallHome-then what? The mind of the doughboy, A.E.F. → online text (page 1 of 11)