Paris in the early days of the war: August 14, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

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(see previous post in this series: August 13 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Friday, August 14, 1914.  Thirteenth day of mobilization. Another hot, stifling day with thermometer (centigrade) 31 degrees at five P.M.

Lunched at the Cercle Artistique et Litteraire, Rue Volney. Only the old servants remain. The club is no longer open to non-member dinner guests. The price of meals is reduced to three and a half francs for lunch, and to four francs for dinner, including wine, mineral water, beer, or cider. There is great scarcity of small change. To alleviate this, ivory bridge or poker counters, marked fifty centimes, and one franc, are given in change and circulate for payment of meals, drinks, etc.

Greater military activity is noticed in the streets than for some days past. Many movements of troops took place all day, and long convoys of the ambulance corps, including several complete field hospital staffs, were seen driving and marching through the city.

This was due to the fact that within the last few days large bodies of the territorial forces had concentrated in the environs, notably at Versailles, from whence they left for the front.

Early this morning certain districts of Paris literally swarmed with soldiers of the territorial reserve.

Although most of them are married men and fathers, they display as fine a spirit as their younger comrades. They may, perhaps, show less enthusiasm, but that they are quite as calm is shown by the fact that a number of them spent the last hours before their departure fishing in the Ourcq Canal.

A detachment of naval reserves has been brought to Paris to assist the police and the Municipal Guards in assuring order in the capital. The men wear the uniform of fusiliers marins, and correspond to the marines in the British navy. They will be placed under the orders of the Prefect of Police.

Mr. A. Beaumont of the Daily Telegraph has had a very narrow escape from being shot as a spy. He is a naturalized American citizen, but was born in Alsace. When the present war broke out, he started in a motor-car to the front without the necessary passes and permits. He circulated about and obtained good and useful news for his paper. The other day, however, he was brought to a standstill in Belgium and was arrested. The Belgian authorities asked at the French headquarters: “What shall we do with him?” The reply was: “Send him on here to headquarters, and if he proves to be a spy he will be court-martialed and shot.” This arose from the confusion of names. It seems that the doings of a German spy named Bremont, of Alsatian birth, had become known to the military authorities in France and Belgium. Beaumont stoutly asserted that he was the victim of mistaken identity, and only after very great difficulty, and with the exceptional efforts of Mr. Herrick and of Sir Francis Bertie, the British Ambassador, was he able to establish his true identity, when he was released by the French Headquarter Staff, and handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Arrivals of detachments of German prisoners continue to be reported from various parts of France. A Prussian officer, speaking French fluently, was among a convoy of prisoners at Versailles yesterday. The officer, on seeing some French territorials march past, singing the “Marseillaise,” remarked to his guard: “What a disillusion awaits us!”

~ ~ ~ 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 15 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 14, 2014 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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