Memorial Day, sometime in the 1920s, in a cemetery outside a small midwestern town

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. . . Later that spring, on Memorial Day,
her father and other veterans marched
the length of a cedar-lined path to pay
respects to the local fallen. She thrilled
at how stern he appeared among the men,
at how smartly he bore himself, unmatched
in the curt retort and snap of his drill.
She shuddered to hear the synchronized crack
of volleys fired again and again
from a line of rifles slanted above
the white wooden cross of a soldier’s grave.
Observing the set of her father’s face,
like statuary, she pondered the lack
of expression, the marble stare into space.

—– Excerpted from the poem “Her Father’s War” by BJ Omanson, from his collection, Stark County Poems: War and the Depression come to Spoon River. “Her Father’s War” was first published in The Sewanee Review; later reprinted in Sparrow: A Yearbook of the Sonnet.

Published in: on May 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

One hundred years ago, April 25, 1915: the Gallipoli landings

gallipoliassaultOn this date, one hundred years ago— April 25, 1915— the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign opened (after a failed British and French naval assault) with a badly botched Allied landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Dardanelles strait, the objective of which was the capture of Constantinople.  Against all odds, as they were exposed to expert Turkish artillery and machine gun fire, and were never adequately supplied, the tenacious British, Australian and New Zealand troops managed to hold on to their tiny beachhead for over eight months, before they were finally evacuated.  In all that time, they were never able to make any significant advance against the Turkish defenders, though each side inflicted approximately a quarter-million casualties on the other.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

LINKS:

The Gallipoli Campaign. Wikipedia.

Battle of Gallipoli: animated battle map.

Gallipoli Centenary Research Project: Researching Gallipoli in the Turkish Military Archives. Macquarie University.

“Never-before-seen photographs show horror of doomed Gallipoli landings through the eyes of the soldiers who fought there.” Daily Mail UK.

Published in: on April 25, 2015 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

One hundred years ago, 24 April 1915: Armenian genocide begins

24 April 1915: Turkish government begins systematic extermination of Armenians with the arrest of 250 Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople. The program of extermination will continue through the duration of the war and afterwards. The majority of able-bodied males will be executed or detained in forced labor camps. Women, children and the elderly will be forcibly marched hundreds of miles into the Syrian desert, while deprived of food and water and subjected to robbery, rape and murder along the way. From one million to one and a half million Armenians will die as a result of Turkish actions during this time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LINKS:

The Armenian Genocide.

Deportation of Armenian intellectuals on 24 April 1915.

A Chronology of the Armenian Genocide.

Map of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Turkish Empire.

Memorials to the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey angry at Pope Francis Armenian ‘genocide’ claim.

Published in: on April 23, 2015 at 11:51 am  Comments (1)  

The Scrapbook of an American Army Nurse in WWI: Part Two

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Many of the photographs in Army Nurse Edith MacDonald’s scrapbook (see The Scrapbook of an American Army Nurse in WWI: Part One), are of her colleagues (other nurses and medical officers) and her patients.  Fortunately, most of these are labeled with names but, unfortunately, with few additional details.  Moreover, many of the photos are in soft focus, making visual recognition difficult.

Nonetheless, publishing these pictures and names may prove worthwhile, if any of them are recognized by their families.  If anyone can shed light on any of these individuals, please do not hesitate to leave comments and information.  In this way, little by little, the history of Base Hospital 115, from the perspectives both of staff and patients, may be modestly expanded.

Edward Griffiths, rank unknown, 2d Infantry Division, AEF

Edward Griffiths, rank unknown, 2d Infantry Division, AEF

George P. Dickson, unit & rank unknown.  He writes on back of photo: "To Miss Edith E. MacDonald, from an Appreciative Doughboy"

George P. Dickson, unit & rank unknown. He writes on back of photo: “To Miss Edith E. MacDonald, from an Appreciative Doughboy”

Raymond R. Taylor, unit & rank unknown.

Raymond R. Taylor, unit & rank unknown.

 

Army Nurses Lottie M. Mumbauer (906 North 19th Street, Philadelphia) and Lorena S. Ingraham (107 Maple St, Lycoming, Colorado & Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania)

Army Nurses Lottie M. Mumbauer (906 North 19th Street, Philadelphia) and Lorena S. Ingraham (107 Maple St, Lycoming, Colorado & Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania)

Army Nurses Ella M. Williams (Graham, Tazewell County, Virginia) and Adelaide Campbell (106 Beaconsfield Ave, Toronto, Canada).

Army Nurses Ella M. Williams (Graham, Tazewell County, Virginia) and Adelaide Campbell (106 Beaconsfield Ave, Toronto, Canada).

Published in: on April 17, 2015 at 2:11 am  Leave a Comment  

First to Fall: the American Volunteers who Gave their Lives for France

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One hundred years ago, by the Spring of 1915, a full two years before America’s declaration of war against Germany, hundreds of young American men were already serving in or near the front lines— as infantrymen in the French Foreign Legion, as aviators in the Lafayette Flying Corps or Lafayette Escadrille, or as ambulance drivers with the American Field Service. These young men, many of them Ivy Leaguers from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and other top universities, joined up of their own accord and at their own expense, putting their lives on hold for several years, for the privilege of defending someone else’s country. Their motives were both idealistic and personal, involving a love of French culture and the French generally, a hatred for what they saw as Teutonic militarism and aggression, and a degree of shame and impatience toward their own country, for failing to rise to what they saw as its moral responsibility to take its rightful place in the European War.

Though few in number, their influence on America’s decision finally to intervene in the war was significant. These young men were greatly admired in the United States and, because so many of them were from influential families and very well-connected, their letters home and articles in magazines, and the dashing figures they cut in the press, not only caught the popular imagination, but captured the attention of politicians and statesmen as well.

Yet today, a hundred years on, the American Volunteers are little remembered. I doubt that you will find even a passing mention of them in any American textbook.

For such reasons, it seems fitting to begin filling that void now, a hundred years on, one individual at a time. All the American Volunteers deserve to be remembered, but most of all those who died in the war, often before they could know that their sacrifice would prove instrumental in persuading their countrymen to rise to the occasion, and take up arms— or bandages— in the defense of France.

As often as time and opportunity permit, over the next three years, photographs and brief obituaries of individual Volunteers will appear here, beginning with three this evening, from the American Field Service, the French Service Aeronautique and the French Foreign Legion.

BJ Omanson

~~~~~~~~~~

SuckleyHENRY EGLINTON MONTGOMERY SUCKLEY II

Born February is 1887, in Orange New Jersey. Son of Robert Bowne and Elizabeth Montgomery Suckley. Home, Rhinebeck, New York. Educated abroad, Phillips Academy, Exeter, and Harvard University, Class of 1910. In business, New York City. joined American Field Service, February 12, 1915; attached Section Three; Sous-chef, May, 1915 to September, 1916. Recruited for Field Service, in America, September to November, Commandant Adjoint Section Ten, November, 1916. Croix de Guerre. To the Balkans. Wounded by avion bombs , March 18, at Zemlak. Died March 19, 1917, at Koritza, Albania. Buried in Koritza.

Speaking by his grave the senior French officer present said: “Henry Suckley always joined to the highest qualities of a leader the humble patience of a soldier, believing that the best way to obtain obedience was himself to set an example in everything.”

And one of the directors of the Field Service wrote when he heard of his death: “Of the many hundreds of Americans who have come and gone in this organization, he was one of the three or four on whom we depended the most and who was the most liked and trusted by those who worked with him or for him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

dowdMEREDITH LOVELAND DOWD

Born July 23, 1895, in Orange, New Jersey. Son of Heman and Mary Loveland Dowd. Educated Asheville School, North Carolina, and Princeton University, Class of 1918. Plattsburg Camp, 1916. Joined American Field Service, November 11, 1916; attached Section One to May 3, 1917. Enlisted French Aviation, May 14th. Trained Avord and Pau. Attached French Escadrille guarding Paris, Sergent. Spad Escadrilles 152 and 162 to February 17, 1918. Transferred U. S. Aviation. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, April, 1918; attached 147th Aero Squadron. Killed in combat, October 26, 1918, near Dannevoux, north of Verdun. Distinguished Service Cross. Buried Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse. Remains later removed to the Lafayette Flying Corps Memorial near St. Cloud.

On October 26th, 1918, Dowd and three others of 147th Squadron were ordered to patrol the lines, but he was delayed on account of engine trouble and his companions got off without him. He decided to follow and continued alone to the adventure that was to be his last. His commanding officer, Captain James A. Meissner, filed the following official report which was later used as a basis for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross:

DSC“Lieutenant Meredith L. Dowd, A. S., U. S. A. went on patrol over the lines on the afternoon of October 26, 1918, at about two o’clock. Over the Bois de Dannevoux he observed four German planes. According to the statement of Private M. M. Buckland, 305th Trench Mortar Battery, 80th Division, who saw the combat, Lieutenant Dowd first showed his markings to the planes as if they were Allied planes. As they did not answer his signal be attacked them immediately. The second time he attacked, one plane left the formation and headed for Germany. Lieutenant Dowd attacked the remaining planes three times, but the last time he drove on the formation, the plane which he had first driven off returned above him and shot him down. He fell in a steep dive and was dead when found by the French.”

~~~~~~~~~~
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HENRY WESTON FARNSWORTH

“… One young American volunteer in the Foreign Legion was killed in the battle for the Fortin de Navarin at the end of September, 1915. He was Henry Weston Farnsworth, of Dedham, Massachusetts, a graduate of Groton and of Harvard, of the class of 1912. His tastes were bookish, musical and artistic. Burton, Dostoievski, Tolstoi, Gogol, Ibsen and Balzac were favorites with him, although his studies in literature covered a much wider field—the English classics as well as the modern continental writers. After he was graduated he spent the summer in Europe; visiting Vienna, Budapesth, Constantinople, Odessa, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, revelling in the historical associations, the art collections and the music of these cities, and making odd friends here and there, as was his wont, and studying the people.

When the European War broke out Farnsworth was in the city of Mexico, whither he had gone when the United States Government sent troops to Vera Cruz. In the meantime he had had some experience as a newspaper correspondent and reporter for the Providence Journal and had published a book, “The Log of a Would-be War Correspondent,” describing his experiences and observations in the Balkan War in the autumn of 1912, the fascination of which he could not resist. Returning home from Mexico, he sailed for England in October, 1914, with no intention of taking active part in the war, but with the desire to become an onlooker, in the hope that he might write something about the great conflict that would be worth while. The air of London and Paris was full of military projects, and he was tempted in various directions. Finally, after a period of hesitation and uncertainty, he entered the Foreign Legion early in January.

In course of time Farnsworth’s regiment was moved to the front in northern France, and early in March he was writing from the trenches. The sector was quiet and little of importance happened except an occasional bombardment or some desultory rifle firing. He was often on night patrol in No Man’s Land.  In one of these night expeditions Farnsworth and his companions succeeded in sticking some French newspapers announcing Italy’s declaration of war on the barbed wire in front of the German trenches. Pleased with their enterprise, their captain gave seven of them twenty francs for a fête.

In August Farnsworth’s regiment was in Alsace. In September, however, it was on the march and took part in the bloody battle in Champagne toward the end of the month. His last letter was dated September 16, 1915. He was killed in the charge that his battalion made on the 28th, before the Fortin de Navarin.

The Farnsworth Room in the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard, a large room for the leisurely reading of such standard books as Henry Farnsworth loved, was handsomely supplied with books, pictures and furniture by Mr. and Mrs. William Farnsworth, in memory of their son.”

~~ Edwin W. Morse

 ~~~~~~~~~~

SOURCES:

Gordon, Dennis.  The Lafayette Flying Corps: The American Volunteers in the French Air Service in World War One. (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2000).

Morse, Edwin W.  The Vanguard of American Volunteers (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918).

Seymour, James William Davenport, ed. Memorial Volume of the American Field Service in France, “Friends of France,” 1914-1917 (Boston: American Field Service, 1921).

The Poilu in postcards

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The British historian and WWII veteran, John Laffin, in his valuable compilation, World War I in Postcards, finds these French carte postales from 1914-1918, compared to their more conservative British counterparts, frequently “overdone” and in “atrocious bad taste”. Personally I find them unexpected, playful and charming, even if occasionally verging on the absurd (how very French, after all).

Either way, our present-day reactions are hardly the point.  What is significant is how popular the cards were at the time with the soldiers themselves, who bought them and sent them home by the hundreds of thousands— not only French soldiers, but soldiers of all the allied armies serving in France.

My grandfather, a corporal with the US Marines in France in 1918, sent home several of them to his wife and niece back on the homeplace in Illinois when he was billeted in the tiny farming village of Germainvilliers in the Vosges foothills— and that was how, 35 years later when I was still a boy and he showed them to me, I first became acquainted with such cards.

Each county had its own distinctive postcards, of course, including the Germans, but the French postcards stand out from all the others, and were especially popular.  Given the miserable and unrelenting drabness of life at the front, these inexpensive trifles of charm and color, easily available in estaminets and stationary shops behind the lines, may well have seemed irresistible to soldiers just out of the trenches.

It is hardly necessary to point out the immeasurable distance between the fantasized image of the poilus in these cards— with their scrubbed male models wearing immaculately laundered and pressed uniforms against picturesque battlefield backdrops in pleasing pastels— and the actual mud-encrusted, lice-infested poilus they supposedly portrayed.  These cards were fantasy, pure and simple.  No one mistook them for any sort of reality, certainly not the soldiers themselves.  From our distant perspective, after a century of unspeakable warfare and atrocity following the end of the Great War, we might very well find such postcards inexcusably trite, or even mildly offensive. But the soldiers at the time seemed genuinely fond of them.  They certainly bought enough of them.

BJ Omanson

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Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 12:54 am  Comments (3)  

Christmas greetings from the old front line

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Princess Mary’s Christmas Box for the British soldiers, 1914

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from a Scottish Regiment

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from the Chasseurs Alpins

from the 7th Division, BEF, 1917


from the 7th Division, BEF, 1917

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from the Cameron Highlanders 1918


from the Cameron Highlanders 1918

One Doughboy’s bitter reminiscence of the Armistice on the Western Front, November 11, 1918

Detail from F.C. Yohn’s painting, “Last Night of the War”, depicting the 5th Marines crossing the Meuse on the night of November 10-11, 1918.

Detail from F.C. Yohn’s painting, “Last Night of the War”, depicting the 5th Marines crossing the Meuse on the night of November 10-11, 1918.

This reminiscence of the Armistice as experienced by soldiers and marines of the 2d Division AEF is excerpted from the book Trifling with War, by Ray DeWitt Herring (Boston: Meador Publishing Company, 1934).  Herring was a member of the 5th Machine Gun Company, 3rd Brigade, 2d Division, AEF.

BJ Omanson

~ ~ ~ ~

“When it became assured the war was to end, the dread uncertainty of the last few hours held anew the terrors of the unknown. To be bumped off on the last day, what devilish luck! And yet such was the fate of many of our own boys, pawns in the hands of ambitious military chiefs.

Note the order:

  1. On the night of November 10th (actually the early morning of Nov 11th), “heroic deeds were done by heroic men. In the face of a heavy artillery and withering machine gun fire, the 2nd Engineers threw two foot bridges across the Meuse, and the first and second battalions of the 5th Marines crossed resolutely and unflinchingly to the east bank and carried out their mission.
  2. In the last battle of the war, as in all others in which this Division has participated, it enforced its will on the enemy.

‘It enforced its will on the enemy’.   It is a heart-shaking question whether this one time gallant boys, hardly daring to breathe the hope of a promised armistice, wanted to force their will on the enemy. Perhaps that will had fashioned another concept in which “enemy” was now a meaningless abstraction, ‘war’ an ugly, fitful dream. Perhaps their will was only to live and let live.

It may have been a military necessity for one American Division to gain the right bank of the Meuse, and it may have been splendid strategy for another to race out of bounds into historic Sedan before 11.00 A.M. November 11, 1918 to stage a fitting finale to the melodrama that showed arrogant democracy the hero in the closing role; but it was not necessary to kill those boys at 4.00 A.M. on the day which was bringing life anew before the blessed sun should have reached his zenith. So it appears, and so our Major said, who cried bitterly over the uncalled-for slaughter. His consolation was that the death of the boys, who had been twice crucified, could not be laid upon him who would not have had it so.

The morning of that day passed by with leaden feet the living who almost forgot the sin of death done at daybreak. Intermittent shelling was noted with feelings that must e pardoned if there was shame in them. When about 11 o’clock the last hostile shell in this sector crashed harmlessly near the brook bordering foret de Dieulet, then we knew enchained humanity had broken the latest shackles fastened on the race by its nemesis, war.

. . . . .   ‘A peace that passeth understanding’  came within partial comprehension in the evening of that soldiers’ day of promise. A great heaviness was borne away. New men, strangely moved with new visions unbelievably true, gathered in wondering groups. There was no hilarity, no singing of paeans of victory. Too rapid had been the change from the threshold of death on this broken battlefield now promising life to the fortunate buddies of the unrequited slain. An aloofness was upon all, and a silence as of the great unaccustomed shadows thrown by the first campfires known to this generation of soldiers. The pageantry of the storied camping ground was lacking. The camaraderie about the beacons flaring fitfully along the horizon was of the fellowship of the disconsolate and lonely. Nothing could be so empty as victory. Many days must pass before life could be cherished. Never again could it be embraced with rapture. For the mark of the beast trails thru dreams of Christians who prevailed mightily over their brethren.

On the next day with the help of Sergeant Long, a roster of our original company was drawn up. Killed, wounded, missing, shell-shocked, sick, accounted for many missing names. Minor changes in the company itself took on dramatic significance to we who knew the men intimately and realized the relentless shuffling of their fortunes and hopes. This roll calling was not the glorious recital official records would make of numbers slain and percentage of valor registered by volume of casualties.

How does the damned human idiot figure another man’s death as his glory? — or a regiment decimated as his coronet? Our record showed us how truly unfortunate so many in one small company had been. When we multiplied the misery centered in our own group by thousands of like units in a dozen armies, we began to realize the world of woe encompassed in that tragic quadrennium beginning in 1914.”

—Ray DeWitt Herring

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Published in: on November 10, 2014 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 16, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

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(see previous post in this series: August 15 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Sunday, August 16, 1914.  Fourteenth day of mobilization. Heavy thunder storms set in at three A.M. Showers followed until one o’clock; cloudy afternoon with variable wind. Thermometer at five P.M. 22 degrees centigrade.

Huge crowds lined the streets leading from the Gare du Nord to the British Embassy, to welcome Field-marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British expeditionary force, who came to visit President Poincaré before taking command of his army. At quarter to one, three motor-cars rapidly approached the Embassy. In the second I could get a glimpse of Sir John in his gray-brown khaki uniform. His firm, trim appearance and his clear blue eyes, genial smile, and sunburnt face made an excellent impression, and he was greeted with loud cheers. He had a long talk with M. Messimy, Minister of War.

I am having a very busy time trying to obtain permission for American war correspondents to accompany the French armies in the field. Mr. Richard Harding Davis and Mr. D. Gerald Morgan have arrived in London on the Lusitania from New York to act as war correspondents in the field with the French forces. As president of the Association of the Foreign Press, and as Paris correspondent of the New York Tribune, I made special applications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the War Office for authority for them to act as war correspondents for the New York Tribune. These applications were endorsed by Ambassador Herrick, who also did everything possible to secure permission for them to take the field.

The official regulations for war correspondents are much more severe, however, than those enforced during the Japanese and Turkish wars. In the first place, only Frenchmen and correspondents of one of the belligerent nationalities, that is to say French, British, Russian, Belgian, or Servian, are allowed to act as war correspondents. Frenchmen may represent foreign papers. All despatches must be written in the French language and must be sent by the military post, and only after having been formally approved by the military censor. No despatches can be sent by wire or by wireless telegraphy. No correspondent can circulate in the zone of operations unless accompanied by an officer especially designated for that purpose. All private as well as professional correspondence must pass through the hands of the censor. War correspondents of whatever nationality will, during their sojourn with the army, be subject to martial law, and if they infringe regulations by trying to communicate news not especially authorized by the official censors, will be dealt with by the laws of espionage in war time. These are merely a few among the many rigid prescriptions governing war correspondents.

I talked with several editors of Paris papers on the subject, notably with M. Arthur Meyer of the Gaulois, Marquis Robert de Flers of the Figaro, and M. Georges Clemenceau of the Homme Libre. They one and all expressed the opinion that war correspondents would enjoy exceptional opportunities, enabling them to get mental snap-shots of picturesque events and to acquire valuable first-hand information for writing magazine articles or books, but that from a newspaper standpoint there would be insurmountable difficulties preventing them from getting their “news to market,” that is to say, in getting their despatches on the wires for their respective papers. However, Mr. Herrick is doing everything he can to obtain all possible facilities for Mr. Davis and for Mr. Morgan.

Almost every day brings some fresh measure in the interest of the public. Yesterday the Prefect of Police issued an order forbidding the sale of absinthe in the cafés under pain of immediate closure, and again called the attention of motorists to the regulations which they are daily breaking.

The sanitary authorities, too, have their hands full. So far, however, the present circumstances have had no influence on the state of health in Paris. The weekly bulletin published by the municipality shows that the death and disease figures are quite normal.

Mr. Bernard J. Schoninger, chairman of the committee which has recently been formed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris with the object of settling difficult questions which may arise in Franco-American commercial relations, states that his committee is collaborating with the ladies’ committee founded by the wife of the American Ambassador to assist wounded soldiers. In a few days this committee collected one hundred and seventy-five thousand francs. His own committee has issued an appeal to all Chambers of Commerce in the United States, and he trusts that considerable funds will be forthcoming for the ambulance corps created under the auspices of the American Hospital in Paris. The Minister for War has granted the use of the Lycée Pasteur, where it is hoped to establish an ambulance of two hundred beds, which may later be increased to one thousand.

The committee has also taken up the question of the payment of customs duties on American imports into France, and Mr. Schoninger states that he has met with the greatest kindness and that the French customs authorities have agreed to accept guarantees from various commercial syndicates instead of actual immediate cash payments. This will obviate difficulties occasioned by the refusal of French banking establishments, acting under the terms of the moratorium, in handing over funds which they have on deposit.

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

(see next post in this series: August 17 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 16, 2014 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Paris in the early days of the war: August 15, 1914 — (Charles Inman Barnard)

arisatWar

PaW_slim4

(see previous post in this series: August 14 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Saturday, August 15, 1914.  Fourteenth day of mobilization. Heavy thunder storms set in at three A.M. Showers followed until one o’clock; cloudy afternoon with variable wind. Thermometer at five P.M. 22 degrees centigrade.

Huge crowds lined the streets leading from the Gare du Nord to the British Embassy, to welcome Field-marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British expeditionary force, who came to visit President Poincaré before taking command of his army. At quarter to one, three motor-cars rapidly approached the Embassy. In the second I could get a glimpse of Sir John in his gray-brown khaki uniform. His firm, trim appearance and his clear blue eyes, genial smile, and sunburnt face made an excellent impression, and he was greeted with loud cheers. He had a long talk with M. Messimy, Minister of War.

I am having a very busy time trying to obtain permission for American war correspondents to accompany the French armies in the field. Mr. Richard Harding Davis and Mr. D. Gerald Morgan have arrived in London on the Lusitania from New York to act as war correspondents in the field with the French forces. As president of the Association of the Foreign Press, and as Paris correspondent of the New York Tribune, I made special applications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the War Office for authority for them to act as war correspondents for the New York Tribune. These applications were endorsed by Ambassador Herrick, who also did everything possible to secure permission for them to take the field.

The official regulations for war correspondents are much more severe, however, than those enforced during the Japanese and Turkish wars. In the first place, only Frenchmen and correspondents of one of the belligerent nationalities, that is to say French, British, Russian, Belgian, or Servian, are allowed to act as war correspondents. Frenchmen may represent foreign papers. All despatches must be written in the French language and must be sent by the military post, and only after having been formally approved by the military censor. No despatches can be sent by wire or by wireless telegraphy. No correspondent can circulate in the zone of operations unless accompanied by an officer especially designated for that purpose. All private as well as professional correspondence must pass through the hands of the censor. War correspondents of whatever nationality will, during their sojourn with the army, be subject to martial law, and if they infringe regulations by trying to communicate news not especially authorized by the official censors, will be dealt with by the laws of espionage in war time. These are merely a few among the many rigid prescriptions governing war correspondents.

I talked with several editors of Paris papers on the subject, notably with M. Arthur Meyer of the Gaulois, Marquis Robert de Flers of the Figaro, and M. Georges Clemenceau of the Homme Libre. They one and all expressed the opinion that war correspondents would enjoy exceptional opportunities, enabling them to get mental snap-shots of picturesque events and to acquire valuable first-hand information for writing magazine articles or books, but that from a newspaper standpoint there would be insurmountable difficulties preventing them from getting their “news to market,” that is to say, in getting their despatches on the wires for their respective papers. However, Mr. Herrick is doing everything he can to obtain all possible facilities for Mr. Davis and for Mr. Morgan.

Almost every day brings some fresh measure in the interest of the public. Yesterday the Prefect of Police issued an order forbidding the sale of absinthe in the cafés under pain of immediate closure, and again called the attention of motorists to the regulations which they are daily breaking.

The sanitary authorities, too, have their hands full. So far, however, the present circumstances have had no influence on the state of health in Paris. The weekly bulletin published by the municipality shows that the death and disease figures are quite normal.

Mr. Bernard J. Schoninger, chairman of the committee which has recently been formed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris with the object of settling difficult questions which may arise in Franco-American commercial relations, states that his committee is collaborating with the ladies’ committee founded by the wife of the American Ambassador to assist wounded soldiers. In a few days this committee collected one hundred and seventy-five thousand francs. His own committee has issued an appeal to all Chambers of Commerce in the United States, and he trusts that considerable funds will be forthcoming for the ambulance corps created under the auspices of the American Hospital in Paris. The Minister for War has granted the use of the Lycée Pasteur, where it is hoped to establish an ambulance of two hundred beds, which may later be increased to one thousand.

The committee has also taken up the question of the payment of customs duties on American imports into France, and Mr. Schoninger states that he has met with the greatest kindness and that the French customs authorities have agreed to accept guarantees from various commercial syndicates instead of actual immediate cash payments. This will obviate difficulties occasioned by the refusal of French banking establishments, acting under the terms of the moratorium, in handing over funds which they have on deposit.

~ ~ ~ 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 16 — Charles Inman Barnard)

Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment