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William Richards Castle William Roscoe Thayer.

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can carry on horse carts and hand carts,
according to their means, and push off
toward France. The poor people are a
terrible nuisance because these carts of-
ten badly block the roads, which should
be kept free for transport and ammuni-
ticm wagons to gallop as hard as they
can go if there is any shell fire being
drc^ped on the roads. My men helped
one old lady to load her cart when we
were resting in St. and she in-
sisted on my taking an old crucifix she
had as a present. I will send it to you
some time.

We were shelled out of four successive
places which we were using as rendes-
vous during the first four days. At
times sheUs came from two directions
and at an angle oi as much as 120^ to
one another, as we were fighting on a
sharp salient.

We had a great piece of luck in one of
our resting-places, some dugouts in a
fidd. A shell dropped into it, but did
not explode and no one was hurt. Dur-
ing Friday night reinforcements were
brought up and the Canadians gave
ground; a straighter line was reiSstab-
lished, and with the help of more rein-
forcements which came up on Sunday
night it was more firmly held. Among
these reinforcements was an Indian di-
vbion. Our rendezvous at that time was
a little cottage near L , and this
division passed by it, as it was to dig
itself into reserve trenches quite near
there. It was very interesting to see
these native troops of several different
races pass by. They were the first I had



This cottage we called Canadian Cot-
tage, because there were some Canadians
in it when we first lighted upon it. A
Canadian battalion had had their trans-



port there before the fight started, and
had left a lot of good things to eat,
which could not now be moved and were
of no further use. Our m&x did them-
selves remarkably well during the time
they were there, and even found a box
of cigars among a lot of miscellaneous
stuff. This cottage was near Dead
Man's Comer, only about 800 yards
away and about every 30 seconds a large
Krupp would sail nicely O'^er, shrieking,
and then drop on the village around
Dead Man's Comer. We finally had to
give up Canadian Cottage as our meet-
ing-point, because some of the Indian
division settled down near it with their
transport, an aeroplane spotted them,
and the place was simply peppered.
During the day when we were using this
cottage as headquarters an old man
came up to look for the man to whom
the cottage belonged (a friend of his).
We told him that his friend had fled. He
was very grieved and lamented, saying
that his neighbor had been his dearest
friend and he could not tell where he had
gone. He turned round to me and
pointed to which was being bat-
tered to bits by the Huns and into which
a "Johnson" (17-inch shell) had just
fallen raising a column of black smoke,
and said, **Les gens qui vont gagner ne
font pas des ehoses comme fa." He was
evidently an optimist, this old fellow,
but I have always remembered what he
said. During Tuesday and Wednesday
the shell fire was less, but the weather
had become very hot and the odor of the
decajring flesh was pretty bad.

But enough blood and thunder. I was
glad when on Wednesday evening we
were told that things were suflidently
normal for regular reports not to be fur-
ther required. So we withdrew to the
old ch&teau from which we had started
on the previous Thursday.



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404



War Notes.



[December,



Ahma May 3.

The aftemoQD was beautifully fine
and we spent it peacefully basking in
the sun on a grass bank, being still a bit
weary from the previous wedc*s efforts.
In the evening after dinner we did some
marvelous chorus singing to the accom-
paniment of a gramaphone which was
owned by an officer of the Irish Fusiliers
billeted next to us. That night at one
o'dock we were awakened by shells fall-
ing erum'p-erum'p^rump into the camp
and in pretty close neighborhood to our
huts. Corah said, "Danm the Huns,
let's look slippy and see that the men
get out of their huts into ditches." This
we did in double-quick time. We had
left most of our clothes on, expecting
something of the sort.

I saw a most amusing sight that night
— a major of artillery riding away at the
head of an ammunition column, conduct-
ing it to a safer spot, cUd in nothing but
carpet slippers, a Burberry over his pa-
jamas and a very bald head. He looked
very dejected in the moonlight. I expect
that he doubled out to see that his men
were getting on the move and returned
to find his hut in ruins. . . .

Yesterday evening after dinner some

officers of , who had just come

out of the trenches for a rest and were in
huts near here, came in to look us up, as
most of them knew Corah. We broached
a bottle of whiskey and talked for sev-
eral hours. They were very cheery and
optinustic — a good contrast to many
people one meets — and insisted that
the Huns are on their last legs. They
had a good story to tell. They had not
been long previously in some trenches in
a wood you have probably heard of
called "Plug Street." Many soldiers
who had been killed there had been bur-
ied in the wood with wooden crosses
over them and little inscriptions on the
crosses. It is said that a Tommy was



heard to remark to his companion*
"S'welp me. Bill, theae 'ere R. I. P.s
seem to have caught it 'ot in these
parts." We are expecting today that
they will start to keep us busy again as
we have had several days' rest.

Ahoui mHh May.

During the last two weeks the Bosdies
have more or less desisted from the use
of the gas trick, and we are beginning
to be relieved of the anxiety which we
fdt three weeks ago on this score —
however, I touch wood as I say that.
Weren't you pleased when you read
Mr. Eyewitness's account <A the last
time they tried to use it, how they rolled
up to our trenches after an attempt,
and found, during the brief moment of
life which was left to them to realise it,
that our men were still veiy much alive?
The gas business has, at any rate, given
us one piece of amusement. Intheeariy
days of its use an order was received by
all battalions in some such words as
these — "Regimental officers should
take aU precautions against allowing
their men to inhale the gas. Upon any
indications of the presence of the gas,
officers should instruct their men to
withdraw their handkerchiefs and soak
them in water, roll them up, and tie
them round the head so as to completely
cover the mouth and nasal organ." Of
course, by the time a man has gone
through that performance he would
have been dead about a minute. The
latest trick in which the honorable
"Allemands" have indulged has been
to put arsenic into the streams flowing
into our lines. We have thought of an
excellent idea; why should we not keep
three German prisoners permanently
attached to the company as our official
water-tasters? It might save several
lives and a lot of delay.

We have been kept mildly busy since



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War Notes.



405



I last wrote you, without having any-
thing unpleasantly interesting to do.
There has been some job or other for us
eyery nif^t, chiefly loading limbers with
material for the R. E., escorting the lim*
hers as far as horse transport is allowed
to go, and then unloading and carrying
the stuff up to the trenches. We have
had a lot of wet weather lately, and I
have found that on these little trips my
attention has chiefly been riveted on my
efforts to keep my old bike from turn-
ing m semicircles on the slippery pav$
roads. Until you become something of a
trick rider it is quite di£Bcult to keep go-
ing in a straight line when the road is
greasy, especially when the night is as
black as the proverbial fiddler's bitch
and the paU is bordered on both sides
with a sort of deep slime.

On our way back, two nights ago, the
return joum^ brought us through the

ruins of , a well-known town

(I '11 give you one guess) , and in the main
square the light from the dead horses
which were being burned increased the
darkness in front of it, and I rode smack
into a "Johnson" hole, and I had to
take a splendid bath most of the way up
my body. My wonderful old bike stood
the stram like a good 'un. You would
have laughed if you could have seen that
performance. I am sure my men must
have been considerably amused. FUn-
ders mud is really something quite
unique and unlike anything I have struck
anywhere for resistance and stickiness.
I am sure that American firms use it as
a basis for chewing gum.

I heard an anecdote of inactive
trench operations the other day which
amused me. On one of the nights I was
out with a carrying party we were tak-
ing stuff up to a trench held by a regi-
ment which had just been moved up
from another point of the line farther
south. I spoke to some of the officers



while the stuff was being carried up, and
was told they were finding things con-
siderably different in this part of the line
from that from which they had just
come. They went on to say that the
trench which they had occupied farther
south had been exceedingly " cushy " and
that military activity there had practi-
cally been oonflned to the daily "mixed
griU." 1 asked what the "mixed griU"
was. It appeared to be this: Everyday
at a time appointed by the C. O., all
the men of the battalion who were in the
trenches had the command to fire three
rounds slow, then three rounds rapid,
and then three consecutive fifty rounds
from the machine guns; and then three
rifle grenades, then three bombs from
the trench-mortar, and then the word
was sent by telephone to the artillery.
Three 18-pounder shells came over to
the Huns, and if they had been in any
way obstreperous, these were followed
by three 60-pounder shells. This prac-
tice became a daily ritual absolutely
methodical, and the men trained to do it
with as mechanical exactitude as a drill
movement. In the C. O.'s dugout was a
list showing which subaltern was ap-
pointed day by day to supervise the
"mixed griU" and headed, "Daily
Roster of Subalterns for Mixed Grill."
They had evidently tried their "mixed-
grill" trick in thb new trench to which
th^ had come in these parts, but had
been answered by the Huns with a regu-
lar "six-course meal," and had come to
the conclusion that the practice would
have to be discontinued.

Ahofut June 10.
We have been kept well occupied, sup-
plying working parties to assist "sap-
pers." The woA we have been doing
has been mostly on one small part of the
line, where there is a very pronounced
local salient. Across this salient a second



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War Notes.



[December,



line of trenches ic being made in case of
any need of giving up the apex of the
salient. A line of this sort is known as a
"switch," and it more or less cuts along
the salient and joins up with the present
fire-trenches on either side. Most nights
we have been working on this switch*
either digging or improving trenches, or
putting up wire or carrying up material.
Some of the ground covered by this line
can be seen from the German line, so
work cannot be carried on there by day;
moreover, an aeroplane would soon spot
any working party and have it shelled
right away. Being able to work only by
dark has meant regular hours, almost
like the routine hours of a peace-time
job. We start off in the evening in time
to get our digging tools and get up to the
work just as sufficient darkness arrives
to afford cover, and leave again as the
first light begins to show itself. This
"switch** is by no means healthy, as it
is very liberally distributed by all the
bullets coming over our fire-trenches
from the other side. Such fire is called
"oven,** and, of course, is not aimed at
one, but is just as good at doing damage,
when it hits, as aimed fire might be.
Being a salient, the middle part of the
ground gets "overs** from the flanks as
well as the front. If there is a lot of fire
coming from the Crerman trenches, we
have to quit work until it coob down a
bit. It is rather a thankless job, it seems
to me, as we are losing quite a few men
at it and get veiy little in return but
candid criticism from rather selfnsati*-
fied R. £. subalterns.

On the other hand, there are most
distinct and pleasant advantages at-
tached to it. There is a pleasant ride
back in the early hours of morning, some
welcome sleep, and then the day to one's
self. When carrying stuff up to the
"switch** we ride to an R. E. "dump**
or store, load limbers with the required



material, go with the limbers as far as it
is safe for them to go (which is about a
mile and a half behind the lines), and
then unload the stuff. Each man takes
as much as he can carry and the journey
is made to the place where the stuff is
wanted. It is slow going, some of it
through communication trenches, and
usually only about four journeys can be
made, at the most, before dawn appears.
I will tty to describe the surroundings
seen as our party is digging. The line of
the fire-trenches for miles around can be
made out by the " flares ** which continu-
ally go up (a kind of rockets fired from
a pbtol, which give out a ball of bright
light as they burst in the air and show
the ground in front of the trenches to
those holding them). You can see that
the line here forms a rough arc of an
arch. There is th^ continuous noise of
rifle-fire from the trenches around and
the curious snaps like small explosions
which bullets make as they come past
when they have been fired from not very
far away, the noise oi an occasional
trench-mortar firing, and perhaps some
guns firing and shells bursting on one
side or the other. A "flare** will go up
dose at hand, and it will show for a sec-
ond the ground around one — long
grass, broken trenches here and there,
with the earth from them piled in front
or behind, mostly old trenches, some
fairly straight and some zigzag commu-
nication trenches. There is a short
glimpse of the trench we are working,
with our men outlined in it, putting up
sandbags or filling them, or digging at
the sides or bottom of the trench, all
bending as low as they can to ke^ out
of harm's way, then beyond them per-
haps some barbed wire as far as one can
see for the moment, or the ruins of a cot-
tage.

Our track when carrying material has
often taken us through the remains of a



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407



little village. This Tillage must have
been very beautiful at one time, with a
quaint little main street and a church in
the middle of it. We have been through
it on more than one night when the moon
has been very bright, and in such a light
its ruins were a wdrd and quite a pic-
turesque sight.

The first new army is undoubtedly
very good. The different battalions ci
the division which has come to these
parts are being sent up to trenches ooco*
pied by the old divisions, by companies
at a time, for instruction in trench wai^
fare and trench lore. It is a nice, com-
fortable way for them to be broken in,
and very well — if there is plenty of time
to spare. One of these new battalions
was up in a trench the other day, for
instruction, when a mine was exploded
under part of it by the Huns. They are
now known as the battalion which was
"blown up for instruction."

We have had their division cyclist
under us for instruction. I'm afraid
their enthusiasm at the start-off has
given the old veterans of two months
food for cjmical thought. They have
been working with us for some nights in
the place I spoke of above. It was inter-
esting to see thor attitude toward their
first experiences, and I don't think these
were as mild in their own eyes as th^
actually were, and there was, of course,
much to-do over their first casualties.
"Expereniia doeet," says the veteran
cynic.

One of the new battalions, a battalion
of the Rifle Brigade, was greeted, much
to its surprise, on its arrival in a trench
to which it had been sent for instruction
under half an old battalion, by seeing a
board shoved up over the German
trenches with "Hello, Rifle Brigade," on
it. Either a wire had been tapped, or
the German "agents " had been putting
in some good work.



The arrival of these first new army
troops makes one wish that we had a
million of them available, and corre-
sponding amounts of ammunition in-
stead of — well, what we have got. It
seems a great pity that we cannot drive
really hard now that the Germans are
using most of their troops in Russia. lam
afraid that by the time autumn comes
the Germans will have all the troops
they want on this front, unless Russia
shows marvelous powers of recovery.

I am afraid the war will last a long
time yet. I think I put the end at au-
tumn next year. The more cynical and
pessimistic spirits say, "It will last a
long time, but the first three years will
be the worst." Others, thinking of gase-
ous weapons, say, "It depends which
way the wind blows."

Personal Notes.

Other personal notes will be found in the
ClasB News.

C. R. Cross, Jr., '03, and Russell
Greeley, '01, were both seriously in-
jured in a motor accident while engaged
in hospital relief work in Northern
France. As a result of the accident. Cross
died in a military hospital on Oct. 8.

In the violent fighting in the Cham-
pagne district in early October many of
the companies of the famous French
Foreign Legion were almost annihi-
lated. Among Americans unaccounted
for and perhaps killed, as few prison-
ers were taken, was Alan Seeger, '10.
Seeger had been living in Paris for the
last two or three years and felt that it
was his duty to volunteer in the French
army. In College he was an editor of
the Monthly and was fast becoming a
poet of real distinction. A poem of his
in the October number of the North
American Review may prove to have
been prophetic, especially in the follow-
ing lines:



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408



The Harvard Club of New Fork City. [December,



** Under the little crones where they rise'
The aoldier rests; now round him undismayed

The cannon thunders, and at night he lies
At peace beneath the eternal fusillade.

** I love to think that if my blood should be
So privileged to sink where his had sunk,
I shall not pass from Earth entirely — "

F. T. Colby, '02, who has been doing
admirable independent work with his
ambulance squad, has been appointed a
lieutenant in the Belgian anny.

President Eliot spoke the thoughts of
all intelligent Americans when he said
that peace under present conditions
would be "a horrible calamity for the
human race, because it would carry into
the future Europe the wrongs and evils
which made the actual war inevitable."
He is more surely an advocate of peace
who looks forward to a real settlement,
even at the loss of more blood and more
treasure, than is the man who would
have some kind of patched-up settle-
ment for the sake of stopping the pres-
ent carnage.

Dr. D. P. Penhallow, '02, has been
appointed chief surgeon and head of the
American War Hospital at Paignton,
England. This hospital has a conspicu-
ously good record as it has lost only 5
out of 1003 patients. F. A. Coller, M.D.
'13, is the assistant surgeon.

Graham Carey, '14, and Dudl^
Hale, '14, have both been given the
eroix de guerre for conspicuous bravery.
Carey himself says that the decoration
was given them for *' evacuating hUssis
under a small bombardment." Another
Harvard man in the same Unit in the
Vosges is more explicit. He writes that
Carey "has been too modest to tell the
harrowing details, so I will add that
three men were kiUed outright only a
lew minutes before he arrived at the
acene of action, and that at the real
risk of his life he took charge of others
who were wounded, and the report is
that he did it all as coolly and uncon-



cernedly as if he were taking a high-ball
at the Westminster."

A. D. Muir, g '12-15, has been ap-
pointed a second lieutenant in the Blade
Watch, the oldest of the Scottish High-
land regiments.

Henry W. Famsworth, '12, who en-
listed last Januaty in the French For-
eign Legion, was killed in the fierce
fighting near Tahure, during the great
Allied offensive on the Western front in
October.

Norman Prince, '06, who is in the
aviation crops of the French army, has
twice been cited in dispatches. On the
second occasion it was for bringing down,
single-handed, an enemy battle-plane.
It was reported at one time that Prince
had been taken prisoner by the Ger-
mans, but this was later denied.

THE SEMI-CENTENNIAL OF

THE HARVARD CLUB OF

NEW YORK CITY.

L. P. Marvin, '98, Sec,

The Harvard Oub of New York City
was founded on Nov. 3, 18d5, at a meet-
ing ci Harvard graduates in New York,
held pursuant to the call of a committee
of five, appointed at a previous meeting.
The notice of the meeting read as fol-
lows:

"Naw YoBK CiTT. October 31.1866.

"A meeting of a few of the ALUMNI
of HARVARD COLLEGE, resident in
New York, was held October 26, to con-
sider the feasibility of instituting a soci-
ety, to bring together, more intimately,
the members of their College in the City.
The peculiar spirit and influence of Cam-
bridge education and associations would
seem a sufficient bond of sympathy on
which to base such a society, even among
persons widdy diverse in age and pur-
suits.
"A committee was appointed to sub-



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Courtfff/ of the Harvard Bulletin.
THE NEW DINING-ROOM.



Vourte$y of the Harvard Bulletin.
THE SWIMMING-POOL.

HARVARD CLUB OF NEW YORK CITY.

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The Harvard Club of New York City.



409



mit a plan of organization at an ad-
journed meeting, to be held Friday,
November 8, at the rooms of the ' Amer-
ican Creog. and Statistical Society/
Clinton Hall, at which your attendance
is invited.

"Abthttb Amokt»

"Jas. H. Fat,

"ThOB. KofNICUTT,
"J. T. KnARBTH,

"A. C. Habeltine,

"'CmnmiUee:*

The only surviving member of the
committee who caUed this meeting is
James H. Fay, '58^ who now resides in
Brookline. Concerning this meeting he
writes as follows:

"I remember the meeting which was
called in October, 1865, for the estab-
lishment of the Club. It was held in a
dingy upper room in the Mercantile
Library Building in Astor Place; and
was not a particularly enthusiastic or
hopeful gathering. The Reverend Doc-
tor Samuel Osgood presided.

"The social atmosphere of New York
at that period of New York City was
not especially favorable for the propa-
gation of Harvard College enterprises.
There was no general interest demanding
an outlet in that direction. But at last
the smouldering fire outbrake, and steps
were taken toward the desired end.

"For some years thereafter the prog-
ress was slow. The Club enjoyed only
a nominal and precarious existence, with
occasional reunions and modest accom-
modations. But we had builded better
than we knew. As the event has shown.

*'5i monumtntum requirU cireumspiee!"

At this first meeting Samuel Osgood
was elected President and Albert C.
Haseltine Secretary.

The next gathering of the Club in
force was at a dinner given by Frederick
A. Lane, '49, subsequently President of
the Club, at Delmonico*s on February



82, 1866. The following account of this
dinner appeared in the New York Enertr
ing PoH on Febniaiy 28, 1866:

"A Poem by 0. W. Holme:

"The subjoined poem by Oliver W.

Holmes was sent by him to the Harvard

Club in this city — to be read at their

'Reception' held last evening at Del-

monico's.

** She to whoee faithful breast each child i« dear
Hears the far murmur of your voices meeting,
Ah, sweetest music to her loving earl
And sends a mother's greeting.

"When first enrobed her radiant form she
dressed,

Truth was the pearl that on her forehead glis-
tened;

Freedom her message to the virgin West,

And the whole world listened.

"Whate'er she gave you — learning, sdenoe,

art-
Shed from the mystic tree whose leaves are

letters,
One gift excelled them all, a manly heart.
Freed from all earthly fetters.

"Guard well the pearl of Harvard, all too

white
For the coarse hordes to dutch that buy and

barter,
Conquer with Freedom in her life-long fight,
Or fidl her noble martyr."

" Harvard Club Reception,
"Attendance cf Noted Men — An Inters

eeting Occaeion,

"The reception of this Association of
graduates of Cambridge, at Delmonico*s
on the 22d, was a most interesting and
successful occasion. About a hundred
guests were present, and among them



Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 56 of 103)