Paris in the early days of the war: August 8, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

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(see previous post in this series: August 7 — Charles Inman Barnard)

(see also the post by ME Clarke for August 8)

Saturday, August 8, 1914. Seventh day of mobilization. Ideal summer weather. Temperature, 16 centigrade, with light westerly breezes. The moon is now full—a first-rate thing for the British fleet in search of German ships; also useful for French military operations, and for lighting the streets of Paris, thereby enabling economy in gas.

The news of the capture of Altkirch, in Alsace, by the French troops, reached Paris at about five o’clock this afternoon. It spread like wildfire through the city, and a rush was immediately made to buy the special editions of the newspapers announcing the victory.

To those who are not familiar with the Parisian character, the comparative silence with which the news was received came as a surprise. There was no enthusiastic outbreak of popular sentiment, no cheering, no throwing into the air of hats or sticks.

After forty-three years of weary waiting, the Tricolor floated over an Alsatian town. “At last!” That was the word that was heard on every side. The moment was too solemn to Frenchmen to allow them to say more.

The existence of war will be further brought home to Parisians on Monday by the disappearance of the morning breakfast rolls. In consequence of the great number of bakers now serving with the colors, it has been decided to simplify bread making in Paris so as to ensure the supply being regular, and consequently the only kinds obtainable after to-day will be those known as boulot and demi-fendu.

The regulation of the milk supply is being rapidly organized. Those households in which milk is a necessity, for children, invalids, or the old, can obtain certificates giving them the preference. On the day after application for these certificates they are delivered, together with full particulars as to the amount, quantity, price, and place of purchase.

The position of other food supplies is excellent. The only difficulty is to get them delivered. Housekeepers must fetch their bread and milk if they want them to time.

Few articles of food have reached the maximum price laid down for them by the authorities. Fresh vegetables and fruit are very cheap. The only important articles which the shops have difficulty in supplying are sugar, condensed milk, and dried cereals.

During the past week about three thousand papers of nationality were issued at the American Consulate-general, and some sixteen hundred at the Embassy. This number may be taken as approximately coinciding with the number of American tourists now in Paris, as virtually all of these had to secure papers of nationality in order to register with the police.

Post-office regulations are still very strict. Following the discovery of numerous spies in and about Paris, General Michel has issued an order strictly prohibiting conversations on the telephone in any other language but French. When this order is not obeyed, the communication is immediately cut off.

~ ~ ~ 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 9 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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