Voices from the trenches, a hundred years ago . . .
From Wm Yorke Stevenson’s AT THE FRONT IN A FLIVVER: The diary of an American Ambulance driver in France in 1916.
March 14, 1916: "...At Poitiers we saw the first train-load of German prisoners; most of them were thoroughly satisfied to be out of the war. . . . We also saw a train of Red Cross cars carrying wounded to the south for recuperation. Only the slightly injured, however. It seemed almost like returning to one's home to see the familiar towns again, Tours, Blois, & the rest. The curious, hazy atmosphere of France, the tiny villages nestling about their castles like chickens around the mother hen, & above all, the familiar poplars. Paris is very quiet & dark; but there are plenty of cabs & taxis, & food is as good as ever..."
Paris, March 16. "...To-day I met A. Piatt Andrew-- bully fellow-- much younger than I expected. He 's the whole show out at Neuilly. Other fellows are very nice too. Several start for the Front to-morrow, so the Equipment Dept is very busy. I had to see half a dozen officials, French & American, to get vised. We are to take our driver's exams, to-morrow, & I ordered clothes..."
"...Just now the Neuilly Hospital is being
cleared of its wounded as much as possible. It looks as if they expect a big Ally offensive as soon as the Verdun battle is over. There are very few wounded in
Paris at present. Most of the Ambulance men are at the Front. They have organized a special 15-day corps for emergencies. It is now at Verdun. I hope I get a chance, although, of course, the turns go more or less by seniority. The food is fair at the hospital — all eat at long tables. There is an immense staff of nurses, doctors, and orderlies, and the place is much larger than I expected..."