Paris in the early days of the war, August 5, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)



(see previous post in this series: August 4 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Wednesday, August 5, 1914. Fourth day of mobilization. Cloudy weather with southwesterly wind, temperature at five P.M. 21 degrees centigrade.

Looking out of the window this morning I noticed British flags waving beside French flags on several balconies and shops. England’s declaration of war against Germany arouses tremendous enthusiasm. The heroic defense made by the Belgians against three German army corps advancing on the almost impregnable fortress of Liège—a second Port Arthur—is a magnificent encouragement for the French. At some of the houses in Paris one now sees occasionally assembled the flags of France, Russia, Great Britain, Belgium, and Servia.

Paris is beginning to settle down more or less to the abnormal state of things prevailing in the city since the departure of the reservists. Those who remain behind are showing an admirable spirit. Nowhere are complaints voiced in regard to the complete disorganization of the public services. M. Hennion, chief of police, has devised an excellent means of clearing the streets of dangerous individuals. He has arranged for half a dozen auto-busses containing a dozen policemen to circulate in the different quarters at night. The auto-busses stop now and then, and the police make a silent search for marauders. Any one found with a revolver or a knife is arrested, put in handcuffs, and placed in the auto-bus and carried to the police station.

Sophie at last got her permis de séjour this evening. The expelled Germans will be sent to a remote station near the Spanish frontier. The undesirable Austro-Hungarians will be relegated to Brittany, where perhaps they may be utilized in harvesting the wheat crop. Germans in the domestic service of French citizens are allowed to remain in Paris.

The French Institute is participating in the campaign reservist mobilization. M. Etienne Lamy, Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy, is a major in the territorial army and is about to take the field. M. Pierre Loti, who is a captain in the navy, will be provided with a suitable command. M. Marcel Prévost, graduate of the Polytechnic School, is a major of artillery, and will command a battery in one of the forts near Paris.

Among American ladies added to the list of those who have volunteered for service with the Red Cross are Mrs. Gary, Mrs. E. Tuck, Mrs. Hickox, Mrs. George Munroe, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Bell, Mrs. French, Mrs. G. Gray, Mrs. Gurnee, Mrs. Burden, Mrs. Harjes, Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Dalliba, Mrs. Burnell, Mrs. Farwell, Mrs. Blumenthal, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Walter Gay, Mrs. Tiffany, Mrs. Allan, Miss Gillett, and Miss Gurnee.

A number of American and English-speaking physicians and surgeons responded to the appeal made by Doctor J.M. Gershberg, of New York, visiting physician to the Hopital Broca, and attended a meeting held at Professor Pozzi’s dispensary to form an organization offering their medical and surgical services to the French Government and the Red Cross Society.

Doctor Gershberg explained that the plan is to form three bodies: a body of English-speaking physicians and surgeons, a body of English-speaking nurses, and a body of English-speaking attendants. The proprietor of the Hotel Chatham, a reserve officer in the artillery, and M. C. Michaut, ex-reserve officer of artillery, have decided to place the establishment at the disposal of the Red Cross Society for the reception of wounded soldiers.

Americans arriving in Paris from Germany and Switzerland continue to bring stories of hardships inflicted on them by the sudden outbreak of war. Mr. T.C. Estee, of New York, who reached Paris with his family, reported that he left behind at Zurich two hundred Americans who apparently had no means of getting away.

He and his family were lucky enough to catch the last train conveying troops westward. They traveled for two days without food or water, one of the ladies fainting from exhaustion, and after the train reached its destination they had to walk several miles across the frontier, where they were taken on board a French troop train. They lost all their baggage.

Eight other Americans reported a similar experience. They had a tramp of ten miles into France, and one of their number, a lady partly paralyzed, had to be carried. They could procure no food until they reached France. Finally they obtained a motor-car which brought them to Paris. This memorable journey began at Dresden.

~ ~ ~ Charles Inman Barnard, from his book Paris War Days: the Diary of an American (Boston: Little Brown & Co, 1914).

(see the next post in this series: August 6– Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 5, 2014 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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