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Tales They Tell


HISTORY
of
THE 306th Field Artillery

Tales They Tell


There seems to be an inherent fear in man, of anything connected with high explosives. Even an empty shell-case is not always trusted as foolproof by the folks back home. A typical example is that of the old lady who is afraid of a revolver, and won't touch it, even with the chambers empty.

One of the men at Regimental Headquarters sent home to his sister a German 77 shell-case as a souvenir, Into the shell-case, he placed several cubes of British taffy, sent him by a friend in London. He thought he would like to have his sister sample the taffy, but neglected to write her of the fact. He was surprised, about two months later, to receive a letter from his mother:

MY DEAR ARTHUR:
We have received your souvenir and we thank you very much for it. Sister Ethel insisted that the substance inside the shell case is taffy, and wants to eat it, but I have forbidden her to do so, for what if it should explode inside her! I have carefully buried the package in the back yard until I hear further from you.
Your loving Mother.

New Use for a Potato Masher"

Wise in the way of the 0. D. Pill, the medical department found in the exigencies of war, a new use for the German "potato masher." This hand grenade derives its name from its peculiar shape. It has a cylindrical head, with a wooden handle.

At the Vesle, a medical man, whose horse refused to go, seized one of these deadly contrivances from the side of the road, and to the consternation of his comrades, began to beat the " cheval " over the rump with it. There was a wild scramble for cover as he threw the thing down, having finished with it. But it didn't go off. Battery A's first gun passed over the " potato masher " half an hour later and exploded it. Although graver consequences than the general excitement and gas alarms that resulted might have ensued, no one was injured.

Fly Cops

On the Vesle sector, our impotence in the air was a constant source of irritation to all. We hadn't enough planes to patrol the entire sector, and when our flyers were in one part of it, Jerry always cut up capers in the other part. One day after a hostile airplane had destroyed an observation balloon, three or four of our planes came hotfooting it to the scene of the catastrophe. Chief Mechanic McAleer, of Battery D, watching them, remarked drily:
" Here they come, like the cops after a fight, taking the names!".

Help Wanted

When the regiment entered its course of training at Camp de Souge, officers and men were at once immersed in the intricacies of French firing data. Everything was done with endless streams of tables printed on endless reams of pink, green and yellow paper. If one did not carry a pencil for one's chief weapon, one stood in grave danger of losing the war. It was there that a bright wit gave birth to the sentence:
" I thought I was going to be an artilleryman, but now I can see I'm going to be a bookkeeper for a
cannon!"

Discipline First

Captain Stantial, of supply company, stood chatting with a brother officer in supply company's orderly room, one December afternoon. The regiment was then billeted in the village of Dancevoir. An orderly entered, stood at attention, waiting for the conversation to end. When about five minutes had elapsed, the orderly became noticeably fidgety.
"Well," said Captain Stantial finally, "what is it?"
"Sir," said the excited orderly, saluting, "they sent me over here for an axe. Regimental Headquarters is on fire!"

"And There I Am!"

In just what barracks it happened is not certain, but Lieutenant D. R. Hyde says it occurred during the early Camp Upton days. The "ten minutes to dress and make reveille, with K. P. if you don't" schedule was then in effect. It was brought to the lieutenant's attention that a casual was in the habit of going to bed with all his clothes on-" sleeping in full equipment C," as a facetious supply sergeant put it. Called to task for not undressing, the rookie explained:
" Vell you see, Lieutenant, it's dis vay. If I takes off my clothings, I can't put 'em on qvick enough in the mornin', but vid dis scheme, you see how easy it is yourself, Lieutenant,-I jumps out of bed,-and there I am!"

The "Gassing" of Battery A

The prevalence of false gas alarms during the early days at the Vesle, and the imminence of genuine ones, set all the men so on edge against the deadly vapors, that the least disturbance of any nature usually ended up with a gas alarm for good measure. The situation was not without its humor.

It was a dark night in Nesle Wood, with only the lone gas guard awake, pacing up and down-up and down. Suddenly he took a deep sniff,-then rang the gas alarm with might and main. Gas masks were fumbled on in sleepy haste, and five minutes later, removed in disgust. There had not even been an explosion. But the lone gas guard had walked over a dead cat!

Following that, Battery A's guns were being brought up to Chery-Chartreuve, rumbling along with the drivers half-asleep. A lead driver sang out to a fellow in his rear:
" Are you all right, Shirk?
" Ya-as! " replied Shirk, in his New England drawl,
Ya-a-s, I a-am! "
A half-dozing driver further down the line pricked up his ears, then shouted:
" Ga-a-s-s I "
The alarming cry was repeated from man to man, and again, out came masks. And poor Shirk had only meant to say " Yes! "
Sergeant Hark and Private Bert Spencer of Battery C had an unusual experience with " gas " one night during the usual heavy shelling at Chery. They were sitting on the stump of a tree. Someone shouted:
" Ga-a-s-s!
Hark and Spencer thought they heard a peculiar hissing, buzzing and humming sound, like a gas shell coming over. Suddenly Hark jumped up from the stump and cried:
" Ouch! I'm wounded!
They had been sitting on a hornet's nest!

All is not Pills that Swallows

Being rather severely troubled with rheumatism, Private Joseph Gonzalez, Lieutenant Colonel Peek's orderly, begot himself to the infirmary one day to procure some sort of alleviation. He stated his

troubles to the Regimental Surgeon, Major Jarrell, who handed him a couple of pills, with the remark:
"Here, take these."
The Major then interrupted the diagnosis to give some instructions to a medical orderly. He turned again to Gonzalez when he had finished, and continued:
" Dissolve those pills I gave you in a pint of water each, and rub your legs well with the solution. "
Gonzalez turned pale with dismay pictured on his countenance.
"But, Sir, I have already swallowed them!" was his reply.

"Battery S"

This is the story of a supply company that aspired to be a battery. It achieved its ambition-to the extent of one shot. So great was the regimental enthusiasm in the advance from the Vesle to the Aisne, that supply company could not resist the temptation of playing a grim joke on Jerry by turning one of his own io5mm. howitzers against him. The howitzer was a salvaged one.

Under direction of Captain Stantial and Lieutenant Delamater, Supply Company's picked gun crew hauled the captured howitzer to a position near Vauxcere and emplaced it. Other enthusiastic supply men scoured about for powder and ammunition that had been left in dumps by the fleeing Germans, and succeeded in amassing a goodly pile.
All was set. The bread-and-jam-delivery gun-crew struck attitudes, and Numbers One to Ten inclusive were ready to give the long lanyard a good big yank.
" F-i-r-e! " shouted Captain Stantial.
" Wo-o-o-sh! " the German shell whizzed on its way to the Aisne.
" Cr-a-s-s-h-h! " the howitzer barrel flew off its carriage, and the carriage itself kicked back and ran over a cannoneer's foot.
Battery S, after firing a total of One Round, was fini. "

It Worked Both Ways

One can often combine two widely different jobs to work well together, in the army as well as else-where. At Camp Upton, Lieutenant Friedlander was Regimental Gas Officer, and also Regimental Insurance Officer. It was his custom to deliver two lectures to the batteries and companies of the regiment-one on gas, and the other on insurance. After he had delivered both, it was said of him that he was wont to conclude:
"And so, Gentlemen, should you not be quick enough in the application of the gas mask, of which

I have told you in a former lecture, you should certainly become the beneficiaries of the insurance, of which I have also told you!"

He Remembered

Wherever the American soldier goes, though it be even to brave danger and death, his irrepressible sense of humor goes with him. This humor crops out at grim moments, sometimes.
It was one of the habits of Captain, then Lieutenant Clark J. Lawrence, of Battery E, during horse instruction, to shout at the awkward horsemen, "Bend Over!" This was in correction of a stiff, erect attitude while riding. Lieutenant Lawrence used this admonition so many times that he became
known, secretly, as " B endover John. "

At the Vesle, with the constant singing and bursting of shells all about, camp idiosyncrasies had almost been forgotten, when a shell burst unusually close to Battery E's position. Lieutenant Lawrence, solicitous for the welfare of his men, called out, saying:
"Where did that shell strike?"
The answer came, clear and distinct, from a neigh-boring dugout:
"Bend over, and see!"

His Feet Were not Mates

It was at Camp Upton, during the training days. Private Joe Carroll, of Headquarters Company, was changing from hikers to dress shoes in order to be presentable at Retreat. Suddenly the whistle blew for that formation, and Joe went helter-skelter out of the barracks with a hiker on one foot and a dress shoe on the other.
First Lieutenant N. R. Coleman was Officer of the Day. That worthy Southerner had won fame from the manner in which he always gave the command: " P-e-r-a-a-d-e R-e-s-t! " drawling it in a manner most comical. Also, one never knew whether he was cracking a joke, or allowing one to be put over on him. As he came slowly down the long front rank, the lieutenant noticed the lone hiker among the polished dress shoes. He paused before Joe Carroll. Then he took off his strong-lensed glasses, looked again, wiped the lenses, and concentrated his gaze upon the phenomenon. Clearly something was wrong. Had somebody lost a leg in the scuffle? But Lieutenant Coleman wished to convince him-self. Turning to Carroll, whose countenance was changing from color to color like an electric sign, he inquired:
"Private Carroll,-Ah say-Are both those feet you-ah's? "

Joe Sanchez, mounted battalion agent with the first battalion, had a favorite Maltese mule whom he dubbed " Soissons " because he was so hard to handle about the flanks. One dark and stormy night at the Vesle, Soissons grew tired of following the same old trail from regimental headquarters to the battalion, so he took the bit between his teeth, and decided to join the infantry. Joe was in the saddle, and didn't care much about joining the doughboys, but Soissons had his weather eye on a little Ford ambulance, and was following it at a gallop toward the front lines, never stopping until a dressing station was reached. Here a medical man yelled at Joe:
"Hey! what are you doing 'way up here with a horse? "
" It's not a horse, it's a blinketty-blink mule!" remonstrated Joe, "If it was a horse, it would have sense enough not to be here!"

Joe and the medical man tried their best to ease the animal into an "about-face" 'mid a stream of machine-gun bullets, but to no avail. The mule wouldn't budge until the ambulance returned loaded, when he followed it back as he had come. Arrived almost at battalion headquarters, Soissons got his nigh hind hoof caught in the stirrup. This was the last straw for Joe. He dismounted in disgust.
" Soissons, " he said sorrowfully, " if you're gonna get on, I'm gonna get off! I'm gonna get off and walk! "
And walk he did, with Soissons following him into the stable at a hobble.

Blow Bugles Blow

The parade in Bordeaux was a trying time for many-not least for the buglers and Major Moon. The major was a great deal put out to find that although the third battalion bugler knew his calls well enough, he could not separate the preparatory commands from the commands of execution.

In vain he tried to explain to the embarrassed musician who only became more confused. After some minutes the major turned in his saddle quite without any intention of giving a command, but the bugler eager to anticipate his slightest wish blew "Halt." And so tremendously did he blow it that he bit off the mouthpiece of the bugle.

The column, by this time accustomed to receiving orders by bugle, refused to move without one. Only after many irate repetitions of the command by Major Moon did it decide to "forward march." Meanwhile our overzealous bugler instead of finding another bugler to take his place rode from one battery to another and called out all the buglers. Major Moon spent his noon hour gently but firmly and precisely assuring the entire corps of buglers that he did not require their services.

The Whole Mess Line

The first night at La Haraz6e was a wild one, but even at the front it had been proved that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good. The good came the second night to Private Alberts of Battery C.

Mess was ready to be served when the shells began to fall. Thinking that the program of the preceding night was about to be repeated, everybody, including all the cooks and kitchen police, fled to cover.

There was one exception-Private Alberts. He had been on the end of the line and saw his great opportunity. Mess pan in hand, he dashed from one steaming receptacle to another, taking huge helpings of everything in sight. This he bore back to safety in triumph and explained:
" Did you think I was going to lose the first chance I ever had to get a square meal in the army?"

The Resurrection of the Dead

More than once it has been proved that the A. E. F. artillery horse is a creature of discernment and understanding. Did not one choose to commit suicide in the Marne when he realized the grim future he faced, and have not others (not always draft horses) escaped army service by ways that are dark and in at least one case, by tricks that are vain.

Coming out of the echelon near Baccarat there were many halts caused by anything from an enemy plane flying low to a loosened saddle-girth. Captain Allen was informed during one of these halts that one of the battery horses had died on the road. Yes, he certainly looked dead-and did not respond to any treatment. The stable sergeant pronounced him ready for burial and the work of removing the harness began. Much pushing and pulling ensued now by the head and now by the tail, until finally the animal, deciding it was better to endure army than submit to further indignities, scrambled to his feet and wandered to the roadside to munch grass. Evidently the army wasn't such a bad place after all.
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