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Flanders


HISTORY OF THE 305th Infantry
by
Frank Tiebout

Chapter 3

FLANDERS


CHAPTER III

FLANDERS

WAXEN, pale green faces leaned over the rail as the tiny Channel steamers found smooth water and approached the wharves at Calais. From the landing stage, some British Tommies rudely inquired: "I sye, are you going to the war? Why, you're half dead now! " We were; and not at all enlivened by a sight of the long hospital train at the nearby station, with all its blood and bandages. Things were going badly at the front.

Through the rain and the confusion on shore, through a maze of ambu-lances, all driven by women, the Regiment found its way to Rest Camp No. 6, East, past swarm after swarm of tenacious urchins either selling their sandy chocolate, bitter candies and sugarless cakes, or screaming, "Souvenir Ameri-caine; penny, penn-ee! " And still farther on and on, through deep, shifting sand, past gangs of German prisoners at work, to the "rest" camp. " Oh, you Dutchmen; wait till we get a crack at you!" With that first hike, our troubles started.

"Look at the dinky tents they're going to put a whole squad into!" was the derisive cheer which greeted the rows on rows of conical tents. Imagine the disgust when a round dozen men were told off into each of them, which were sunk into the ground a couple of feet, and surrounded by a two-foot wall of sandbags, as protection against the lateral burst of aerial bombs; for night raids on Calais were of regular occurrence.

Released for an hour or two in which to get rid of their sea-legs and a portion of their last pay, men wandered uptown with passes to explore the questionable delights of the ancient city now darkened at night and showing evidence of recent raids. The doughboys' curiosity is insatiable. In Calais, the officers quickly began to discover that the English, with their ubiquitous clubs and messes, had at least learned to make themselves fairly comfortable, despite the war.

And no sooner were most of the explorers herded back within the wire gates of the camp at the appointed hour of nine-thirty, by those unlucky enough to be posted as sentries-only one of whom lost his rifle that night while on post-than the Boche aeroplanes came over. Like the drowsy hum of swarming bees could be heard overhead the ominous whir of the powerful Mercedes motors-a sound which everyone rapidly learned to loathe and detest. "Cr-r-umph, croomph," fell the bombs, while everyone, according to, instructions, lay close to the ground near the sheltering sandbags, although the attack occurred at some distance from the camp.

That was apparently too much for the Chinese Coolies, employed as laborers by the British and quartered in droves hard by our section of camp. Ordinarily a happy, noisy lot, they had already serenaded us with their weird music, though had anyone been able to "parley Chinee," they might have been urged politely to desist. While the Boche planes bombed Calais, the Coolies attacked the Boche prisoners. Hospitality and brotherly love was scarcely their motto; for next morning, having forgotten their enmity toward the common foe, their gentle demonstrations became more personal and intimate: they staged an honest-to-goodness Tong War, opening up a number of skulls, perhaps to make us think of New York's Chinatown. Such diverting little outbreaks were not infrequent, we were told.

Oh, think of those days back at Upton when we " stood inspection," when we checked and rechecked the mass of equipment preparatory to the crossing, and were charged for articles short! Here in Calais, much of the labor of days and nights was undone. The blue barrack bags with all they contained-the extra uniform, the campaign hat, dress shoes, knitted wear, personal articles of every description and the comfort kits so patiently turned out and presented by the thoughtful women of our own Auxiliary were dumped into a pile and bidden adieu.

In exchange for them, men and officers received a steel helmet and gas mask, after marching for hours to the "gas-chamber," where one or two imagined that they were actually in a heavy concentration of the deadly fumes and swooned artistically.

And oh, for the days at Camp Upton, where the efforts of the Mess Sergeant and the "greaseballs" were all too scantily appreciated. The bread-cheese-marmalade threat, heard at Dover, was proving a fact. We had just suffered the gas-mask-helmet-hike episode, returning to the "rest" camp late for tea-the Tommie calls his supper "tea." All we rested at that camp were our stomachs. Cooks had not been notified that the Headquarters Company would be late; so, it was necessary to make another " G. I. can of tea, while the men waited outside the mess-shack. Though supposed to be efficient at flag waving, they certainly were not gifted with the quality of patience. No hungry soldier is. Beating on the door, they yelled a number of uncomplimentary things at the management, least aggravating of which was, "Open up, you loafers, and let us in! " The Lance-Corporal inside, lowest ranking non-com in the British Army, shouted through a crack in the door, "You bloody, bloomin' Yanks, we waited three years for you; now you'll wait three minutes for us." That was altogether too good a gibe, thought the Headquarters Company who, beaten in argument, could still beat down the door, which they promptly did, utterly smothering Lance-Corporal in the ensuing rush.

Another exchange was effected, the American Winchester rifles being turned in while the British Enfields and bayonets were issued. Just what did that mean? It certainly sug-gested that we were to be linked with the British, somehow. Though not generally realized at the time, the 77th Division was to be stationed for its seasoning period in a position to back up the British behind the Arras front, virtually in reserve, to block the German advance, should the break occur. The military situation was grave. Our seasoning was likely to be a spicy one. Germany was striking at the channel ports, England rather expecting her to reach them. To our inexperienced eyes, Calais seemed defended by a mere handful of Archies or anti-aircraft cannon.

Accordingly the Regiment moved to the region centering about Licques in the Pas de Calais, on May 2d, there to be trained by what was left of the 39th British Division-one of those which had borne the brunt of the March offensive and which had been very badly shot up, a mere skeleton,

"There's a hot meal waiting for you at the end of the march," was the lure, the bait dangled under the noses of the Third Battalion as they struggled under a boiling sun; at two A. M. in a sudden rainstorm they made Alembon and Sanghem. It rained every other minute, in those days. No such rash promises having been made to the other battalions, in their case no memory of a broken promise remained to embitter the delights of billeting.

The whole Regiment had set out from Calais bright and early, ridden a few minutes on a freight train from Fontinettes station to Audrique, there to take up their burden-winter overcoat an' ever'thing, for a long afternoon afoot. Cheerful enough at the start of its first real march, the long column wound through a pleasant rolling country, over government roads such as abound in France, bordered by stately trees, the Regimental Band essaying at first "to put in every step all their punch and pep" but rapidly growing weak-growing weak, as evidenced by the bass drum's utter loss of rhythm.

In the midst of the afternoon a new contrivance, the rolling kitchen, overtook us, greeted by a roar of approval which quickly changed to a groan of disgust after the "coffee" was sampled. Some got none, and remained considerably more vigorous than those who partook.

Toward evening, as H and G Companies stumbled into Le Poirier for their initiation to the matter of billeting, the old school-teacher was in the act of prying a cow from one of his outbuildings requisitioned for lodgings, apparently making excuses to the poor thing. "My Cod," exclaimed Lieut. Henderson, "if that cow can learn French, I can."

Those who did not strip at once, to plunge into the frigid stream which ran through the village street, sought to exercise their meagre knowledge of French in bartering with the townfolk. The price of eggs went soaring. Sergeant Felder, of the Signal Platoon, knew that "egg" in French sounded something like "oof." He asked the rnadarre for two. " Woof, woof," be said-, but the old lady certainly did not "compree." Undaunted, Frank picked up a handful of hay, shaping a little nest of it, in which he tenderly placed two round stones. Then he hopped around the yard, flapping his arms and shouting, " Cluck, cluck, cutaw-w-cut," whereupon the good woman's counte-nance brightened perceptibly. He got the eggs and his platoon's nomination to the post of interpreter.

An unsigned contribution from A Company reads: "I'll never forget the long, thirteen-hour hike from Audrique to Licques. We were marched through a muddy barnyard to a stable door and told to go in and make our selves comfortable, and we were so tired that we simply dropped on the floor of the dirty place. It was not until morning that I thought again of my blistered feet; my partner woke me up by rolling over on them in his sleep, and wouldn't get off 'em. 'For the love o' Mike,' I said, 'get over on your own side and let me sleep.' I struck a match and found, to my great surprise, that my partner was a two hundred pound porker. Sleeping with hogs was no game for me, so I grabbed my blankets and straggled into another part of the barn. Here I had to put up with the cows ' but nevertheless, I went to sleep. At Reveille I was out of luck; for when I awoke at 'first call' I found a mademoiselle milking the cows. I couldn't very well dress with her there and consequently got the Dickens for being late to Reveille. Which proves that one can't be a soldier and a perfect gentleman at the same time. "

Perhaps it is the writer of the above, who was severely reviled by his bunkies one night for making a dreadful racket and who replied with some heat "that he would get this damn pig out of the bed or know the reason why."

The billets furnished other amusements, too. The Headquarters Company tell how Jimmy Wild, who now doesn't like rats, was much amused to see one try walking a slack wire directly over his recumbent form; how the rat balled up his act and fell directly on Jimmie's face; how, with a yelp, James seized the rat by the tail, hurling it convulsively across the barn-at the blanketed form of the somnolescent Corporal White; how he in turn flapped his blankets in the general direction of Fitzgibbon, who hastily made a pass at Mr. Rat with a bayonet-with the result, of course, that the rodent escaped.

It was after a few days of billet life that the doughboy first confessed, bashfully, that he thought he had a cootie. Horrors! To think of OUR boys having-er, er, why, we could not bring ourselves to use the dictionary word for these new acquaintances. Acquaintances? Ay, bedfellows!

Presently another, and still another victim. The thing lost its novelty as well as the stigma of being "visited." A certain preoccupation claimed the spare minutes. Along with a gesture characteristic of the monkey, bathing became more popular. Boiling the clothes was thought to be efficacious, though it was soon apparent that only a boiling of both the clothes and the soldier at the same time could bring about any marked degree of success. The Sanitary Detachment issued a sort of talisman to wear suspended from the neck-quite decorative and all right in its way, excepting that the little gray fellows seemed to grow fat on it.

There may still be some who claim never to have "entertained visitors." But others will tell you how their pets wore service stripes and wound chevrons, and would not only answer to name, but also fall in, count off, and do a perfect squads right."

"… On my shirt they do 'right dress,'
Number off and march to mess,-
They run wild, simply wild over me."

One evening, a group of lieutenants sat within the only light-proof barn left standing in Thenorgues, patiently "reading their shirts" by the light of the flickering candle. None of them could possibly have had a bath for at least two weeks. Presently a very superior voice issued from out the depths of a comfortable corner: "Say, if you fellows would only be clean, bathe once in a while, you wouldn't be bothered by these seam-squirrels."

Wow! Such impudence! They dragged him from his bed, promising that if so much as one cootie were found on his bragging person he would be sentenced to expulsion from the billet-without clothes. Would you believe it-for some unaccountable reason, they couldn't find a single shirt-rabbit! But just to punish him for his insufferable superiority he was thrown out, anyhow.

But to the drill which, under the guidance of British officers and non-coms dragged us out of bed at an early hour, rain or shine, and let us off just in time for supper! Perhaps you were unlucky enough to be quartered in Audrehem, where the Second Battalion had their headquarters, or in Le Poirier, and led to the summit of that unspeakable hill every morning, there to grub away in the earth, learning how to ply the festive pick and shovel on a trench system; how to throw live grenades, how to shoot, how to play games for which the British are very strong, and how to wield the bayonet. An English sergeant-major was endeavoring to arouse the will to use the bayonet, in a small group of very earnest though very awkward American soldiers. One of them made a terrific lunge at his imagined adversary as if he were going to finish the war right then and there, lost his balance and fell over a thoroughly wounded dummy. "Fine spirit," cried the sergeant-major, "but go slaow, there; go slaow. Ye'll win the Victoria Cross that wy, hal-right; but yer mother'll wear it."

And the gas-mask! It had to be carried constantly, in the hope that the soldier would come to look upon it as his best friend, his inseparable companion. Our preliminary training in gas defense had in Camp Upton advanced to such a point under the able tutelage of Lieutenant Kenderdine that scarcely a man in the Regiment was unable to don the mask in less than the required six seconds. Of course, there were the peculiar cases such as that of Private Wigder whose false teeth, gripping the mouth-piece, would insist upon leaving their proper hiding place, sallying forth and biting him in the cheek-or something like that; we forget just what the excuse was which sent him into the kitchen at Regimental Headquarters.

A British general, in whose area and under whose jurisdiction we happened to be training, said to the American officer who accompanied him on tour of inspection one morning: " And are your men well trained in the matter of gas-defense? "

Oh yes indeed," replied General Johnson.

Gas! " screamed the general at a passing doughboy, for the purpose of making a practical test. Nothing but blank amazement masked the Latin -American countenance on the roadside.

" Gas! " howled the general, thinking that the boy hadn't heard him. No response - not a quiver of intelligence.

"Don't you know enough to put on your mask when you hear that warning?" cried the excited dignitary.

"Me no speak-a da Eenglis," answered the American.

After all the strain and stress which characterized the gas training, one can easily imagine the diabolic grin which greeted the news that Lieut.-Colonel Winnia, while visiting the English front, had momentarily mislaid his mask and had got a lungful.

It was perfectly topping, the English said, for the Americans to brigade their fresh units with the British, as was once the plan-the Americans fur-nishing new vigor and "pep," the British furnishing the experience. But the idea didn't appeal to the American youth at all; temperament, perhaps. It was with great consternation that one of the British officers breathlessly reported to Colonel Smedberg one day that a disquieting rumor was abroad: the American soldiers had said they wouldn't fight. Just another instance of the American doughboy's extravagant conversation being taken seriously. In all probability, some bragging British sergeant had undertaken to tell a crowd of willing listeners all the horrors of the trenches, real and imagined, spreading the butter too thickly; the American, envious of the older man's experience, had maliciously given the impression that he was a near-Bolshevik. Nothing to it.

British Corporal instructing some of our signalmen in use of Lucas 14cm. daylight signal lamp.

While the Powers that Be, Those Higher Up, and "They" were sending each other congratulatory telegrams about the glorious reunion of the two sister nations, how the Minute Man of '76 and the Red Coat had finally clasped hands, how blood would tell-Doughboy and Tommie were discovering that blood still had a lot to tell. For one thing, it stood to reason that the poor, downtrodden British Tommie was all to blame for the ration of cheese, tea, marmalade and dog-biscuit. Besides, it hurts the pride terribly to hear a better story put over than one's own about war and outrage and blood.

A Tommie sits in a corner of the cafe beside a bottle of beer. "Come on over, Yank, and 'ave a bottle, he says. "You're on," replies the Yank, offering a Goldflake, or a Red Huzzar, or a Three Castles, or something equally awful; whereupon, for want of something more cordial and brotherly to say, the Tommie remarks, "Well, we've been waiting more than three years for yer ... .. Yes," answers the doughboy, having thought up a good retort to this, since the first insult at Calais, we had to come over and finish the job for you." They embrace with a crash of glass, and when reinforcements rush up from either side, the Allies break friendly bottles over each other's heads. With difficulty the blood brothers are separated, moving off to see what all the similar racket is about in the estaminet further down the street and fondly hoping for some real excitement.

Many of us who hadn't acquired even a cootie or two in the course of the hardening process-no doubt 'twas thought to stiffen our resistance to as many hardships as possible-either picked up a couple of "friends" while visiting the British in the front lines of the Arras sector, or got them from those who returned. F Company boasts that Sergeant Farmer came back with cooties clear to his shoe-strings, inoculating the entire First Platoon and the officers, and planning to take home to Mabel eighteen trained coots in a pill box, which he "read" off McGee's shirt.

Mothers' Day, May 4th, saw more letter writing than ever before in the history of man; about that time, the first mail came through from the United States. Will you ever forget the thrill of those first letters-or the frightful lies you wrote in reply? Already, the Company officers, required to censor all outgoing mail, were busily carving out of existence the vivid accounts of fictitious raids, attacks, and heroic adventures, and a scribe of Semitic origin was doing a big business in M Company writing letters to the home folks for the boys-two stereotyped pages furnishing the necessary news, a third proving that Sonny was just as sentimental as ever.

Those who were fortunate enough to visit the British front line really had something to write about, and were the center of interest upon their return from the region of Gommescourt Wood and Fonquesvillers, ground which had recently been retaken from the Germans in their strategic retreat to the Hindenburg line. It was their first taste of shell fire, their first sight of an area pitted with shell holes, scarred by rotting tangles of wire, broken gun carriages.. cannon, broken down tanks, bewildering mazes of disused and new trenches, battered chateaux, wrecked roads and villages, forests then nothing more than a flock of stark, withered skeletons. Some even experienced the thrill of night patrolling. The officers were particularly astonished at the nonchalance with which the English officers regarded the perils of the situation, at the impor-tance of their liquor, and at their formal dinners, surprisingly well served under the very noses of the Boches-a dangerous aggravation, one might think. But all came away more or less imbued with the feeling that the whole affair "up there" was too vast, too panoramic for rapid comprehension, and impressed by the tremendous amount of noise and metal required to kill a man.

Of all the battles, skirmishes and engagements which this history will describe, there is no doubt that the Battle of Watten, of awful memory, has been most frequently alluded to. " Ah, the Rout of Watten," you will fondly say; "If someone fails to make Watten as famous as Bull Run, future gen-erations will never fully appreciate the real horrors of war." When it was all over, though we had yet to hear the roar of artillery and the chatter of machine guns, there was not a man of the Regiment who did not agree abso-lutely with General Sherman's contention regarding war.

For it was a war, a mimic war, the first of those terrible things called maneuvers; but very few of the officers and men realized until the battle was half over that the Americans were attacking the English, or the English attacking the Americans-something like that. Whether or not the whole Division, or the Brigade, or merely the Regiment was concerned, nobody seems to know, to this day. Nobody knows anything about that famous affair; yet everybody talks about it. It will doubtless remain a mystery until the end of time.

This Battalion will march . . . " began the mere scrap of paper-a "chit "-which kept officers and men of your" particular company awake the greater part of the night, packing up the full equipment, office records, trunks and bedrolls, (for the orderlies had not yet become skilled in the art of relieving the management of worry), and which sent you forth to perspire bright and early the morning of May sixteenth. "Kitchens will follow without distance." ("Yeah, an' without food," you grumbled.) A four-hour march under as hot a sun as ever a midsummer had to offer brought the First Battalion to Zouafques, the Second to Louches and the Third to Tournehem. All afternoon the weary came straggling in, dropping exhausted into billets where they fondly hoped to rest for the next two weeks at least. But such was not to be. Many of the boys, too weary to clean out the stables allotted to them, preferred to flop in the adjoining pastures under their dog-tents.

Four o'clock next morning, the seventeenth, was the hour at which you contemplated murdering the bugler; at five-thirty you were on the road, that is, if you were in the Second Battalion. The orders read that at some-thing like eight-forty-three, thirty seconds and two ticks, roughly speaking, the Regiment would assemble at cross roads So-and-So, in such-and-such order. Disorder! Can't you see "them," studying the Field Service Regulations, figuring the length of each column, the distance to be covered, the number of miles accomplished by a thirty-inch step, a hundred and twenty-eight to the minute, the fifty-minute jaunt, the ten-minute halt-then rising triumphantly to announce that the Regiment would assemble from the four corners of France at the very stroke of, of- Oh, well, the battalions assembled. Then for the real work of the day!

The remarks that were passed on the march would never pass the censor. "We cursed and sweat, for the sun was ferocious; and that made the cooties happy." It was the officers' simple duty, besides carrying their own equipment, to see that the men kept up and made ten kilos look like two, a heart-breaking task. During the most trying part of the hike, an officer noticed that one of his men, an illiterate Russian Jew, was just about "all in" and that his poorly made up pack was gradually falling apart, then almost dragging on the ground. "At the next halt," he said in no uncertain tones, "you tear that pack apart quickly and make it up right! Get your corporal to help you." At fifty minutes of the hour, when the men fell out on the right, the lieutenant sauntered down the column to see that the readjustment was proceeding swiftly just as the poor, exhausted Russian took from his roll a heavy Webster's Dictionary!

Even the English Tommies at the head of the column for the purpose of setting the proper experienced pace, and who carried no packs, were well-nigh overcome by the heat. Many were the schemes to rid one's self of some, if not all of his load. The brightest idea emanated from the brain of one Mr. Gash, who cut off and threw away the canister of his gas mask, averring that inasmuch as he still retained the face-piece he was fully protected.

During one of the halts, a doughboy collapsed on the stone railing of a bridge bewailing his fate, mopped his brow and whimpered, "I've never bad a bit o' luck since I ate that fish on board the Cedric!"

All were game at the start; everybody wanted to stick it out. But the men simply were not in condition to carry their absurdly large packs in that sudden spell of warm weather. During the early stages of the march there were exasperating halts for no apparent reason, the men, of course, being required to stand in formation expecting momentarily to push onward again. That is what takes it out of a man-needless starting and stopping-the accordion formation."

At the fifteen-kilo mark, the boys started to weaken. Forgotten were the principles of route-marching as demonstrated so beautifully by the English platoon (which had nothing else to do). The big, the small and tall started to keel over. Whole squads collapsed; companies evaporated, "all along the rotten road to Wa-a-atten."

"Then our captain told us," writes a doughboy, "that we had a mile and a half to go. He fooled us. Our water was low; many were without it. The sun had us melted. Throats were parched; feet were blistered; our bones ached all over. I saw black in front of my eyes. Fifty minutes on the hike, ten minutes rest: the fifty dragged like years, but the ten went like seconds. Sometimes the major's watch would stop and we would walk eighty minutes. He never seemed to worry, for he was on his poor horse which was also all in. I saw this horse many times look pitifully at the men on the roadside and from the expression on the poor beast's face I judged that he too would like to sit down by the roadside.

"We landed in a field about two-thirty and thought it was the end of the hike, for there was old 'Dutch' Richert with his chow-wagon; and the stew he made up for us tasted like creamed turkey. But that was only the first part of the battle. With the stragglers still coming in, the major gave orders to sling packs, saying we had about three miles more to go. By that time, three miles was no more than a cootie bite to us. But we had to go ten more dreary miles before landing in the woods. 'Those packs are too heavy for even a mule,' we overheard an officer say. This made us very cheerful-made us feel like wagging our cars.

" That night, we would have relished a bed of nails and barbed wire. Having gulped down some hot water, alias coffee, and ready to 'coushay' on the ground floor of Watten Wood, I stepped over into a nearby field for a minute and was tagged by a squad of Tommies as a prisoner. That was the first intimation I had that a war was on. Just then there were such shouts and yells through the woods that we thought the Boches had broken through the lines at Ypres. The yells were fierce: 'Put out that light; do you want to get killed!' 'Douse the kitchen fires!' 'Lights out, there!' 'There he is, overhead.' Above the roar of the anti-aircraft Archies, we could hear the drowsy hum of the German aeroplanes. All one could do was to crawl into a hole and try to drag the hole in after him, while the bombs dropped dizzily in the distance. Over to the east was seen the lurid glare of a burning ammunition dump. Searchlights flashed across the sky, and managed to pick up a Taube, which dived and ducked and swerved while the Archies barked all around him. Finally he dodged out of the shaft of light, and despite the telltale buzz of his motor, it couldn't pick him up again. But what was the use? If he had landed a bomb, well-we couldn't stop his doing it, so we just naturally shivered ourselves to sleep."

At about eleven o'clock, some frightened individual sounded a fake gas alarm and the boys rushed their gas masks on in record time. At Reveille next morning, a private of A Company, who fell asleep during the supposed attack with his mask on, awoke with a start and exclaimed with indignation to the sergeant standing near, "I wonder who in Hell put this on?"

But while G Company slept the sleep of the dead, "Abie" Hoffman was up and doing. In response to the major's pointed inquiry, the company commander was able to reply, "Yes, sir. G Company's packs are all present or accounted for." Anybody who knows "Abie" can imagine how he took aside the driver of a British motor lorry, found him a drink somehow, sug-gested that they take a ride and returned triumphant with all the baggage which the company had shed along the route.

Next day scarcely a man stirred out of his dog-tent until weird orders came in about reducing the weight of the packs. Away went the bed-sacks, 0. D. shirts, extra socks and underwear, personal articles, the sweaters that Sweetie had laboriously knitted, the housewives that Mother had patiently put up so that one might be able to sew on a necessary button in the field. "I give you fair warning," said our lieutenants. "Your home-made sweaters, socks and other unauthorized articles are going to be con-fiscated if found in your packs. Open up." When inspection took place, many a man had on three pairs of prized socks, and a prickly sweater out of sight next his skin; but most of these articles were ruthlessly dumped into a pile through which the grasping Tommies rummaged to their heart's delight. When another dizzy order suddenly came through to give back the sweaters, our officers could scarcely look their men in the face.

That was the second part of the fight.

After "Duncan's Dizzy Division" had spent most of the following morning in improvised and muddy trenches, the officers almost crazy because of constant and conflicting new orders, and most of the afternoon in a second series of aggravating inspections for unauthorized equipment, we lit out for home. At nine o'clock we flopped into a wood, but scarcely anybody pitched a tent, knowing that he'd have to be up and doing at four in the morning, in order to escape the heat of the day. At ten A. M., we were back at the starting place, and the superhuman first platoon of F Company, having won the hundred francs put up by "Dan" Patchin for a relay race, repaired in a body to the corner cafe in Louches, to drown its thirst; the Battle of Wat-ten was over.

That affair certainly gave the Division a black eye from which only some real action in the trenches could help us recover. A rigorous course of training ensued, much the same as that which preceded the "battle," the Regiment meanwhile being regrouped about the headquarters, at Licques.

Inspection by Sir Douglas Haig seemed to please him, in preparation for which Captain Achelis might have been heard to say, "Let's see. When he comes I can have one platoon doing a snappy bayonet drill, another throwing bombs, another in a gas-mask race, and the fourth doing 'squads right' in the courtyard of the brewery." The boys were promised a complete holiday on May thirtieth; and anyone will wager that General Pershing, whose threatened dash through the area never materialized, would not have approved of our being held the entire day, with combat equipment, in readiness for his approach and probable inspection!

"About June tenth," writes the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, " there came a real tragedy. It cost the lives of fifteen men of Company B and wounded about forty others. The extensive list of dead and injured caused it to be thought across the ocean that the Three Hundred and Fifth was already in action. The accident happened while Company B was on a British drill field near a Stokes mortar battery." Unlike the rest of the report, and contrary to the general belief, it was not a B Company man who picked up a "dud". A French soldier of a salvage unit dropped the unexploded shell, which occasioned the tragedy among the platoon about to fall in near by. It was a rather cheerless company, which fired on an adjoining range the next day; and the entire Regiment had learned by sad experience not to tamper with unexploded shells.

American rifles again! In the middle of the night, orders came to turn in the English Enfields and draw the old Winchesters deposited at Calais, and which looked as if they had been left out in the rain ever since. The Regiment would move at one o'clock, June sixth for parts unknown. Rumor had it that the American Sector would receive us " toot-sweet."

It was too bad that Captain Achelis, familiarly known to "his boys" as "Peaches," had announced with dramatic effect that to glorify the departure he had bought a pig. For, in view of the sudden order advancing the hour of march to eleven A. M., the Captain sold the pig, while his boys hastily rolled packs and snatched a chunk of bread and rare beefsteak from the rolling kitchens. For months thereafter,-on marches, in billets, in estaminets, on the mess line or wherever C Company congregated could be heard, sung to the tune, "The Farmer in the Dell," the mournful verses: "The Captain bought a pig," "The Captain sold the pig," "Who ate the pig," and so on.

Oh, the mockery of it! Having washed down the beef and read with a few gulps of chlorinated water, we stood for an hour thinking of the untouched potatoes, coffee, jam, and the possibilities of pig, before the order came from Battalion Headquarters to "fall out in the immediate vicinity." It was not until three o'clock that the order came to fall in again, which started us on our long journey to the southeast.

Not even those unfortunates who had done forty-two kilos in a day, while helping the 154th Brigade in a little maneuver of their own, felt able to scoff at the thirty kilometers with full packs, covered by one A. M. the next morning. As usual, the men got away in splendid spirits on what proved to be one of the most grueling hikes of their entire experience, everybody " covering off " properly, well to the right of the road, marching songs rising lustily from every throat. The burning sun gave way to twilight, twilight to moonlight, and still the fifty-minute marching period, still the ten-minute rest! "Gawd, how much further have we got to go?" While the men wobbled all over the road, majors, adjutants and scout officers sped up and down the ditch on horseback, testing out the liaison. "Liaison" was an enthralling word. "Er, er, Lieutenant, report to Major Metcalf that the head of this Battalion cleared cross roads Blankety-blank dash blink-point-blank at nine-fifty-two." The adjutant transmits this thrilling information to the Major, who returns the compliment, thereby leaving the ultimate defeat of Germany a mere question of time-while the plodding doughboy wonders how much more time it will necessitate and envies the adjutant his horse. "One feature of the French kilometer," he observes, "is that you not only kill a meter, but also kill yourself, particularly when you've got this pack on your back."

What did it matter if the mules and wagons of the Supply Company barely escaped running over the prostrate bodies lying confusedly in the woods at Campagne-les-Boulonnais? Utterly fatigued, there was no thought but to lie and rest and no welcoming cheer to greet the concerted action of the buglers next morning. But just stop a moment to think of the poor old cooks. No easy life was theirs while on the move. To be sure, it was the easiest thing in the world for them to slip their packs on the kitchens and ration carts despite all orders to the contrary; but they covered the same ground you did, and got up in time to feed you-as they did that painful morning.

It was soon apparent that this second day was not to be any grand and glorious achievement; tormenting feet, aching bodies, insufficient rest and groaning backs soon began to take their toll. Man after man, struggling as long as human endurance could maintain them, fell by the wayside, sick, exhausted and oftentimes unconscious. 'Long about midday, General Wittenmyer came upon a pathetic figure by the roadside, propped against his pack which he hadn't the energy to takeoff. "Dogs," he soliloquized, gazing ruefully at his feet, "you've gone back on me. For many a year you've been my main support and you've done your duty noble. I've been careful of you right along; but I guess I was too easy with you. And now, because you've had to take some hard knocks, you're laying down on me, ain't you. But I guess you done the best you could an' I can't blame you for putting me out of the running."

Any feeble attempt at mirth and hilarity had long since failed. Con-versation was at a standstill; but what the boys thought about the army at that time was unfit for publication. Yet the hike was productive of many surprises, among them General Wittenmyer's decision, after hearing the doughboy's lament, to order a lengthy rest at noon and-Sidney Wermick's quality of endurance.

"Sid had been cooking for the Signal Platoon all the time we were out with the British climbing the hills of Northern France. We had carried the pack a bit, nearly every day in the week. Sid hadn't. So, when we started on this jaunt the hardened veterans thought that Sid would be one of the first to drop out. Along about the fifth hour, when fully ready to call it quits, there was Wermick marching blithely along, seemingly with no cares or worries. He was in at the finish, and probably the freshest man of the lot. That night, his bunkie happened to be looking while Sid unrolled his pack. It comprised one blanket and a lot of straw - all the rest of his equipment was on the ration cart."

At Embrey, eighteen kilometers away, the entire Regiment encamped in the rain upon a slippery hillside. There ensued the customary foot inspection by delighted officers who would look solicitously at masses of blisters and callouses, giving the highly original and expert advice to prick the former and shave the latter. A few minutes thereafter, the nearby stream was full of soapsuds and struggling humanity, the woods bright with naked bodies and brandished towels, and the price of wine advancing from two to six francs a bottle. "The 'Frogs' of that town," the boys complained, "paid off their war debts with the money they took over from the Three Hundred and Fifth."

One more day of it brought us into Wamin, on a Saturday night. But a Saturday night in Wamin is not exciting. We rested the Sabbath day and kept it wholly unto ourselves, lying about in glorious relaxation on the pleasant grass, attending Chaplain Browne's services, listening to the band and watching F Company's ball team trim a group of Canadians to the tune of 9-5.

Again we quote: "As we approached Hesdin, the morning of June tenth, it was our expectation to find accommodation in compartment cars, such as we had seen the French and British soldiers fly past in. But for us, there were only trains of dinky box cars which had been carting horses around France for three years and never cleaned. While some men plied the busy pitchfork, our future Argonne scouts got some valuable pointers stealing straw.

How pleased F Company's bunch of battling Irishmen were to find their beds suddenly requisitioned by the major's horse! 'Quarante hommes, huit che-vaux!' We would rather have been the chevaux, particularly after having ridden three days and nights in these side-door Pullmans."

But the boys would put up with 'most any sort of hardship, for they were going to join up with real Americans. We passed through Versailles; later, caught a distant glimpse of the Eiffel tower, thinking that perhaps we'd see something of the wonderful city of Paris which lingered tantalizingly before our eyes; but just as everyone had primed himself for the treat, the engine puffed around to the rear of the train, and started us off in the other direction.

Think of all the rumors that went the rounds. Think of all the difficulties of messing-rushing up to the kitchen cars only to find the train steaming out, and in a fair way to leave the greater part of its passengers in some unidentified portion of France. How many times did overwrought officers howl at you to "get those legs inside the car?"

At Nancy, it was the same old story-a beautiful city temptingly held before us a moment or two, only to be rudely snatched away before too many venturesome youths could sneak out of the side doors for a drink. Down near Blainville, we saw the first American campaign hats of loving memory. Old Rain-in-the-Face Overseas Cap couldn't ever come up to the campaigner could it? Either the sun smote the eyes, or the rain trickled down through the ears into one's shirt collar. Great excitement occasioned by the sight of these first Americans-engineers working on the railroads! We must be nearing the American Sector!

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