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Chapter VIII - With the A.E.F. in World War I

ammond went down bright and early to the recruiting station. The Sergeant said because he and the two or three others on hand were early volunteers, they could apply for any service they wanted except signal corps. Now, the signal corps was the corps wher eyou ocould learn to fly, and Hammond said - "Except the signal corps? Why that's the one I was going to apply for." "Well, well you can't do that," he said. "To do that you have to be a very unusual fellow." I said, "I am an unusual fellow, in that sense. I am an engineer, and I don't see why I'm not qualified to do that."

The Sergeant did his best to discourage me, but finally allowed that I could talk to the Lieutenant when he arrived. When the Lieutenant arrived, I explained who I was, and went on: "The Sergeant said you could apply for anything but the signal corps, and so that naturally made me mad - I hadn't thought of it before, but when somebody says you can't do it, it just naturally makes you want to do it."

He said, "Yeah, I can understand that all right ..." But he Finally said, "Look here, I'm not going to accept your application to enlist in the army. I can enlist you in the army in two minutes, if you want to - but I don't think you should do that. But I have heard that they are going to start officers training camps - because we just don't have the officer for a big army. What we need is college graduates - young men who are physically o.k. and intelligent - within a matter of weeks, I think there'll be applications for college graduates to go into officer training, I'll make sure that you get applications as soon as they come - and in the meantime you just go home and don't apply to get in, because you should be able to get in as an officer, and I can tell you that the difference between being an officer and an enlisted man in the army is a tremendous difference." I didn't realize it, but he was right.

And he said, "Do you have good eyesight?" and I said, "Oh, yes!" But as a matter of fact, all of us were so anxious to get in, to pass any physical examination, that somebody had gotten hold of all the different eye charts that were printed, and we learned them all by heart, so that I could recite down to the bottomline.

The idea of being drafted and sent to Vietnam today is the most God-awful thing, and they'll do anything to avoid it - but not for that war. That was a different thing. We were going to make the world safe for democracy.

inally Hammond became part of a special company of engineers: mechanics, masons, carpenters, plumbers, surveyors, and such were to be recruited for it; every man must be profesionally qualified, and there would be higher pay. The officers were to be engineers, and the company would go to France very soon. He was told to report to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, for officer training - the first officers' training camp.

ow the rule in the army is that if you're an enlisted man, the government supplies your clothes, but if you're an officer, you have to supply your own clothes. I went to a tailor who had never made a uniform, but he had pictures of men standing around in uniform, and he built me a very funny suit - I'll always remember that because I had to wear it for a long time. And I went up to Fort Sheridan and arrived on the day that the course was to open. And there was a total lack of anything going on. Fort Sheridan was the deadest place - you could wander around there and there wasn't a soldier in barracks, there wasn't anything happening at all. So I met three other fellows who were there just like me, each one was in a funny uniform and had come to attend Fort Sheridan about first officers' training. So we inquired around and finally we got to some Sergeant, and he said, "Oh yes, well the trouble is, it's like all these things. The program has been postponed, and nobody will be arriving here for a week. Now you can go in and see the Captain!"

We went in and we said, "Captain, we were told to come here", and he said, "Yes. Now let me get this straight. Are all four of you college graduates?"
"Yessir. Yessir."
"Where did you go?"
"I went to Cornell."
"Where did you go?"
"I went to Amherst."
"I went to Yale", etc.
And he said, "Well you know if you want to go to work, I have no right - I have no way to see that the army ever pays you, but if you want to go to work here, you'd just be the most tremendous blessing to me, because I have these bags of mail which are applications to become officers in the first officers' training camp. And these applications are fantastic, because practically everybody can find a bishop, for instance, to say that his moral character is good and that he knows that he is a member of the church - and the most impressive amount of stuff about each fellow and all his marks - - "

he applications were very well drawn up and you had to get from the university a complete story of all your courses and all your marks from the beginning - it was a tremendous document. But the number that applied was vastly larger than the first officers' training camp could accept because of the limited amount of facilities. So he said, "Now look - out of all this number, you mustn't accept more than about so much percentage" - I think it was a little less than 25%.

So we said "O.K., we'll start opening the mail."
So we opened the mail, and we sort of sat as a jury. And "This fellow - oh, he's a Psi-U's."
"Well, I have nothing against Psi-U's."
"Well, you must have a grudge against somebody" - and so on.
We'd say, well, how about this?" - and we'd read other things out of his business - and we just informally sat around there and said, "Well, hands! Now, who wants to let him in?"

And if there were two that wanted to let him in, all we did was pick up a postal card and put his name on it and mail it and that is what determined how at least a quarter of the reserve officers got in.

The Captain would say, "Now what were you using?" "Well, he has to have had good marks, and we take preferably well-known schools, but not entirely" - and we justified it pretty well to him. And he said, "Well, now let's just take examples. Now this fellow, whom you passed. What are his papers?" Well, we'd give him his papers, and he said, "Well, I don't know, it's all kinda goofy to me. I don't know that I could decide any better than you can. At any rate, there's no personal thing, there's no graft. Has any of you passed on any relative of yours?" And we said no. And it was true. we hadn't. The Captain was delighted with us, what we did, because we were positive, we decided, and we took charge of the matter.

inally the great day came when these people were to report. By that time there were a few enlisted men that we could order about. They acted as a sort of buffer and kept people in line and made them enter. There was a great big armory there, and at one end, they all came up to this table where the four of us sat like a sort of jury. And the fellow would appear and he had this card (which we had sent him), and he had some papers - a preliminary medical examination made by his faculty physician, testifying that he didn't have this, that and the other. Well, we would sit there and look at the fellow and one of us would say, "Do you smoke?"
And he would stammer nervously,"Well...in moderation." And one of us would ask, Well, have you got a cigarette?" And we'd take most of what he had...It was all so silly.

One man named Cudahy from Milwaukee - his family were in the meat-packing business- this fellow had gone to his tailor, who had made him a uniform from photographs, but the overcoat he had was a Major's coat with its fancy braids. But of course Cudahy didn't know that. And when I saw the coat I whispered to the others, "Lets give him the business."

So when he came up to our table, we all stood up at attention, stiff as ramrods. And he was all flustered, and said, "Why, uh er - "
And we said, "Yes, SIR,Major!"
And he got all red as a beet and stammered, "I'm not a Major, Sir..."
But your overcoat,"we said; "that's a Major's overcoat-"
"I didn't know," he said. "I'm just an officer candidate Sir."
"Well, young man,"I said. "I'll tell you what you can do. Here's a pair of nail scissors. Now you go over in the corner and remove those Major's insignia from that overcoat, and you'll be alright.">
So he did. And you never saw a more embarrassed young man with a pair of nail scissors.

ell, Before long Hammond recieved in the mail his commission in the army. He went to Detroit, where an engineering regiment of 700 was being recruited with enthusiastic assistance.

So we went to the Fair Grounds, in those empty buildings, and the Colonel said they would have to learn the manual of arms, and marching, and so forth. It was wonderful for them because I have I have a very loud voice, and I had done this manual of arms and stuff a lot (at Cornell). So in the morning they had setting-up exercises, and the Colonel said, "Well, you seem to be able to do this - at least, we'll try you out first."

So I would go out there and in my screaming voice I would say by four counts, Ready, Exercise! One Two Three Four - Go on - STOP!! and so on. And I kind of took to it. And one of the reasons it amused me so was that I was facing in one direction and the men were all facing me - they didn't see anything that went on behind them. But way in the distance beyond them was Lieutenant Colonel Webb, who was the chief engineer of Michigan Central Railroad, who had built the highest railroad in the world, over the Andes, when he was young. And he would follow my commands, doing these exercises just like the soldiers. And I would always see that I was ordering the Lieutenant Colonel to do this and do that, and that the Colonel also often came out and took the exercises.

But I always like to tell about my conversation with General Pershing. The General appeared, to review some troops that were there. The highest ranking officer was my Colonel. I was his adjutant - four paces to the left and rear ...

eneral Pershing arrived, looking very handsome and high- rank. The band started playing, but apparently it was playing too slow. So Pershing said, "Why don't they play faster?"
"Yes sir," said I, and dashed off to the band leader.
"General Pershing says to play faster." The band played faster. That was my conversation with General Pershing.


The Ship that Rescued the Titanic


hen came orders to go to Europe. They reached New York on July 4th, 1917. The heat was awful. They boarded a wonderful English liner, the Carapathia. The crew said, "Is this all we're going to have? We could take three or four times as many."
"We're just following orders."
"Well, if this is all, then all the officers can have bedrooms." It was the lap of luxury, but ghastly hot, as they silently pushed out into the Hudson at night. The tugs had no running lights, but tubes with lamps in them which they pointed at the liner. They hugged the shore closely as long as possible, then suddenly took off into the Atlantic, bound for Halifax to join a convoy. At four in the morning, there was a terrific Crunch! They were on a reef. British destroyers came racing out. All the oil from the double hull was released, making a hige slick (early pollution). The ship was floated, and towed into Halifax for repairs, missing its convoy.

Finally we were part of another convoy of 18. They had a regular arrangement of zig-zagging that they used. And the Captain said, "Well, all you men - you could be of some use to us. You stand around - every five yards - around the main cabins of the boat - and you must look straight out, and if you see a periscope, you shout, and somebody will come up." Well, we'd no sooner started this business than someone shouted, "Periscope!" then another man did. It was perfectly ridiculous for a while. Everybody saw a periscope every few minutes. Finally it got to be such a joke that they were afraid to say periscope.

We zig-zagged over north of Ireland, and ducked down into Liverpool. But it was just lousy with submarines all around there at that time. On the very next trip, the Carpathia was torpedoed and sunk.

We were taken to Aldershott, which was a big camp. and the King and Queen of England came out to review the troops especially as this was the first contingent of American soldiers. Well, they thought they should have some athletic events, so we got up a hastily organized track team, and the big event was a tug of war. According to the army rules, you had to weigh in the men, so that both teams weighed the same amount. But it was the general consensus that the anchor man should be an extremely heavy soldier. Well, the heaviest man we had was a Sergeant for whom the army had not been able to supply a pair of pants big enough, so that the regiment had to get a private tailor to make a pair of pants for Sergeant Egan. I don't know how much he weighed, but he was tremendously heavy. So when the competition came, Sergeant Egan pulled very hard , and the American team won the tug of war. So that was something to congradulate them about, and when Sergeant Egan was sent with those who came up to meet the royalty, he met the Queen. And the Queen said something to him about 'it's remarkable how well you pulled,' and he would answer her, "Yes, Ma'am," "Yes, Ma'am." Now it turns out that that is absolutely correct: that's what you say to the Queen - it couldn't have been better.

Well, when all this happened, there were news photographs who came, and made photographs, and Sergeant Egan was so overwhelmed with all this stuff, he sat down and wrote a letter right away to his girl in the United States, in which he said that they had won the competition, that he had talked with the Queen of England, and she had said this, that and the other to him, and he was absolutely delighted, and so on. And he got off his letter promptly, and it got back to the United Stated in record time. But when the girl received it, she was furious. She wrote back the most awful letter, about "How can you write me such a pack of lies?" I don't know whether she broke off the engagement, but she was madder than a wet hen. And then, lo and behold, a picture of Sergeant Egan talking to the Queen of England appeared in the rotogravure of the New York Times, and of course that found its way eventually to his girl. Can you imagine the humiliation she felt for having written all that stuff when here it was true and everybody could see - it was spectacular - it was her Sergeant Egan that was speaking to the Queen and saying "Yes, Ma'am" in the photograph. He stood so big that the Queen looked sort of like a child.

So then, letters came from the girl - you see, at that time it was required that an officer censor the mail of an enlisted man - and all these things she wrote to Sergeant Egan we all followed with bated breath. This girl had to eat such humble pie.

We weren't there very long - we went to a channel port, and they had a very small boat, and our regiment getting in there seemed impossible; we just said "You can't get that many men in there." And they said, oh yes you can, yes you can. It doesn't last a long time. Get in - get in. You'll find room.

It turned out that there was standing room only to go across the Channel, and it was very rough. and these men all stood there and vomited standing up. When they got off in the morning on the docks, they were the most God-awful looking people, because they were all covered with vomit. Of course as soon as you land on terra firma, the effect of sea sickness passes away in just a matter of moments, and so after a while these poor beraggled guys who had had such a horrible night were all laughing and kidding one another. It was amazing the way their spirits went up.

Then we got on a little French train which was the same old business of box cars that all hold forty men or eight horses. We got on one of these things and we went tootling down France, nowhere near the front, to go to a place where as an engineering regiment, we were going to build an engineering depot and make a cut through some rocks because the American railroad, which Colonel Webb was going to lay out, was going to terminate in that switching yard, so that from there on the cars would be switched various places to take them near the front. It would begin in Bordeaux and by-pass Paris (all French railroads radiate from Paris).

We lived in little huts. I lived for a while in a tent with the doctor of the regiment, who was an obstetrician in civil life, obstetrician to society people in Detroit. When he went to bed he'd tell me all these fantastic stories about women and their troubles and what they want - - all of which was absolutely fascinating to me.

There was this woman whose husband wasn't very virile - and unbeknownst to him, she called the doctor by prearrangement in the middle of the night - she had got some of her husband's semen, and drove to the doctor's office and he took some of the semen and curetted her - actually just put it in - and she became pregnant, and in France he received a letter from her. He said to me, "You want to read this?" And this woman had written "Hurrah! Eureka! It took," and she said, "He looks exactly like his father."

The women in the village there had no medical help except a midwife, and sometimes she seemed to get into difficulties. Well, they all learned that there was a genuine baby doctor in the regiment. So every once in a while the appeals became so strong that he would say. "Well damnit!" He'd go get his bag, and to me he always seemed to come back in an incredibly short time. But I suppose by the time they were in trouble, the baby was partly out, or stuck, or something.

There was a place where the soldiers could walk - where they could buy liquor after hours, and they would go walk out to this place and then start to come home, and then being more or less drunk and being very cold, sometimes they'd fall into the snow. Well, I was suddenly awakened at near midnight by my top-Sergeant coming in and saying, "A terrible thing has happened - - a whole lot of our men - must be about twenty of them - are lying in the snow, and they're just going to freeze to death. I'd like permission to get up a crew to go out and rescue these men."

Well, the doctor woke up and heard the conversation and said, "Now wait a minute Sergeant - that isn't the way it works. If a man is drunk and falls in the snow, he'll get cold and he'll sober up and he'll come home on his own steam. If you don't believe it, go out there now and I bet you won't find anybody." And it was true. When the top-Sergeant got back to the barracks, every man had turned up.

General Dawes, the Hammond's next door neighbor in Evanston, went to France to be in charge of purchasing things which the army had forgotten or didn't have. Because Hammond was a low ranking officer, but an engineer and bi-lingual, he was assigned to Dawe's staff, since these qualifications were extremely useful. As an engineer purchasing officer, he was assigned a car and a driver. The car was a Cadillac limousine, and the driver turned out to be none other than a mammoth Sergeant Egan. Hammond's first assignment was to procure two carloads of roofing nails without delay.

So that was my mission for the day and I had arrived at Dijon. I was well paid and I had no expenses of any kind. So I was dining in great luxury in a French restuarant and I was backed up against the wall in a little banquet for one. Well, three feet away from me was a banquete for one at which was sitting a French General, in uniform. I hadn't seen any French General before, and as it turned out he hadn't seen any American, let alone an American officer before; although he had read in the newspapers that we were arriving, he hadn't personally yet seen anybody. So I thought well why don't I get some help from that General? A General ought to be able to do something for me. So I started, in French, of course. I said, "My General, I am here on a strange sort of mission. I work for the Office of General Dawes, in which we are commissioned to buy things which for some reason have been forgotten in the shipments, because the United States ships over all this equipment, but naturally they forget to send something" - well, I went through the whole story abou it - "and I am commissioned to get two French carloads full of roofing nails"- and I started to describe the roofing nail, when the General burst out :

"I do not believe a word you say. No American can speak French the way you speak it. You are a Frenchman, and you are a deserter from the French army."

Well, I pulled out my identifcation card, and said, "Sir, here is my photograph on my identification card to prove who I am."

"Nonesense! he said. "anyone clever enough to fake all this could easily obtain forged identification papers. You, sir, are under arrest, and when I have finished my meal I will turn you in."

Well, while he went on eating, I wondered if there wasn't some way I could persuade him I wasn't a French deserter. Finally I looked at my watch and remembered that I had told Sergeant Egan to return for me at 9:00 P.M.,and it was now past that, so I said, "Monsieur le Generale, would you be persuaded that I am who I say I am, if it turns out that there is an American car outside driven by an American soldier, who has returned to drive me back to my quarters?"

"Well", he said, "Yes, of course that would be convincing."
"Well, let me see if he isn't here," I said, rising.
"Oh, no you don't!" said the General. I'll send the Somelier." So he summoned the sommelier, and asked him to look.
The sommelier came back in a minute or two. He was very sorry "Le Generale", but there was no such automobile waiting outside.
"Damn that driver for being late!" I said to myself.
"Just as I thought," said the General. "This was just a ruse to get out of the door and escape. Well, you aren't going to escape. In a few minutes you will be turned over to the police."

There just didn't seem to be any way of getting away from being arrested and thrown into a French prison because my French was too good.

But just then the sommlier returned, and said, "Oh, Monsieur, there is a big car outside - the biggest car I have ever seen - and at the wheel is an American soldier. I am sure no automobile made in France is as big as this."

In a few moments, in came Sergeant Egan. The biggest thing you ever saw.
"Would you like to speak to this man?" I asked the General. "I promise to translate to you exactly what he says."
"Oh, no," said the General. "My God, I owe you every apology. Oh, dear, I never thought this could happen ... I will help you in every conceivable way - - what is it that you wanted?"

"Well," I said, " I wanted to get two carloads of roofing nails, - probably your supplies depot has an enormous supply of them."
"Well, that's interesting," said the General. "One of my classmates is now head of that bureau. We can probably talk to him on the telephone. I can get through on the telephone - lots of people can't."
So we went out and he made a telephone call and talked to his old friend Gaston, and finally he said,"I have an extra-ordinary American officer who wants a great quantity of roofing nails - to fill two Frenchh box cars."

And the man answered, "That's a reasonable request. We have that many nails right here - send your man with a truck and we'll deliver them tomorrow morning."

o Hammond hired a truck and the nails were delivered to the Americans the very next day - thanks to his French that was too good.

fter two or three months Colonel Webb was ordered to go ahead and build his railroad, to go cross-country from Bordeaux. He had to go to Nevers - and then run a single track and put it on piles across the Loire River, but before that, he wanted me back, and he had every right to claim me, because his mission carried an enormously high priority ... he needed these piles, ... how was he going to get 'em? There was a Sergeant, who dealt in piles and that kind of thing for the railroads, and knew all about everything - he was an expert on the subject. And the Colonel said, "Now, we don't have much in the way of transportation, but we can at least give you a Ford ambulance which you can drive yourself, and take this man to wherever you think you can find trees that would make piles long enough for the purpose that I need."

And he and the expert knew all about this. I didn't. But this thing had such priority that they said, "You can cut down any trees in France, practically." Well, I remembered in my boyhood, because I had been there, in the Forest of Fontainebleau around the palace there are marvelous stands of trees - great big tall trees. So I thought of that place, and I went tootling in to there, drove the Sergeant in, and the Sergeant said, "But my God, this is a park! I never have seen such things as this."
And I said, "well, that's O.K. Now look, I don't say that you can have it, but you decide what you would like to have, and then you tie one of these ribbons around it. I'll leave you here, and you put on the ribbons, and try to arrange it so as to hurt the park as little as possible.

So the Sergeant picked trees for two days. He would look up and tell you exactly how much footage you would get. He did wonderfully well in selecting them here and there so they never would be missed.

I went and got authority to take those trees. The French were so tremendously delighted with the arrival of the Americans they understood the speed at which the Americans were coming - 300,000 a month. What were trees? Their man was delighted at the way the trees were selected. We hauled them away with tractor trucks and a rear assembly.

Before long the bridge was nearly completed. Hammond started walking on the railroad ties, which were not yet evenly spaced, high above the waterbelow. Suddenely he became giddy - had vertigo - was in a perfect tizzy. He got across - but for a while he got down on his knees holding on pretending to look at the construction.

ot long after the railroad was completed, Hammond and others who had arrived in France with him had completed a year in France. He and a Captain of his regiment were furloughed to Nice on the Riviera, of all places, for two weeks, and the two palled around together doing everything that you could imagine doing. After that his regiment was sent up to serve near the front as regular engineers, attached to English troops.

When he arrived there, Hammond, now a First Lieutenant, was made commanding officer of a little detachment, and was billeted in a Catholic priest's house.

is house was right next to a church and the church had been bombed so that there was just a great hunk out of one side. But by putting canvas up, he could hold services. He rode everywhere on a woman's bicycle because of his robe. So when he would come in, about quitting time, he would turn the bicycle upside down and turn the wheels and start talking to me, always in the same stilted manner. One afternoon he said, "You understand of course, Monsieur, that I talk to quite a lot of your soldiers, those who are Catholic and who come to confession. And of course you know that anything that is told to a priest in the confessional is absolutely sacrosant and cannot be told to anyone. So of course I cannot give you any information as to who told me what; but I can tell you that you should send some soldiers down and find a certain woman, and just throw her out of town."

"Well," I said, "I have no evidence; she will scream and say "'What's the matter with me?'"
"Well, he said, "You don't pay any attention to that. You just throw her out of town."
It sounds so easy if you're a priest and a man has a bunch of soldiers, that you're just going to go down and throw somebody out of town. But actually it did work - because the fact that you came and knew her name, and you had a squad of soldiers - she thought maybe she was going to be shot or something, and she would scramble on her own, I mean - it really worked!

Then he said, "Now, I have something which I do when I go to bed at night," and he said, " I would recommend it very much to you. I have a warm drink which consists of hot milk and into it I put some cognac - and of course the cognac and the hot milk has a very prompt effect and you just go to sleep in no time." And he said, "If you would like to try that, I have prepared this for you, and you will get one tonight."

So I said,"Oh, that sounds very attractive; thank you very much." So there by my bed was the drink - the smell was mostly of hot milk, but the strength of cognac in it was unbelievable. And I drunk it with great glee, and it was just as if I'd been hit with a pole axe. I went to sleep right away. I slept through the night and woke in the morning and felt fine; it was just exactly adjusted to the stomach capabilities of a very young man in the pink of condition.

After I'd had a few, I said, "Well now, I don't like to have you putting all this stuff in here. By just going over to the British Commissary and merely signing a chit, I can get six bottles of Black and White Scotch whiskey for seven francs - hardly anything" - and it was because it was every kind of tax-free and profit-free from the army, and the price was just absolutely ridiculous.

"Oh", he said, "that would be wonderful."
"I'll have that by tonight," I said.
Tonight came and instead of the thing smelling of cognac, it had the most tremendous smell of Scotch whiskey. So I went happily to bed with that, and this continued for several nights, but after a very short time, back came the smell of cognac.

"Well", I said, I see we have cognac tonight. Don't you like the Scotch?"
"Oh, but certainly, Monsieur - thats wonderful Scotch. Nothing could be better."
Then I said, "But you perfer the Cognac."
"Oh, no, no, no , no. The Scotch is just wonderful - - - but we've run out." It was just an incredibly short time for him and me to have drunk six quarts of Scotch.
"Well, well, then," I said, "If that's the case I can get you some more tonight." And we continued on Scotch until I left that place.

We kept being moved around by the British - doing what the engineers were mostly doing - laying down Deceauville track - two little rails that are welded on to little ties, and come in sections, and you lay this on the ground. And you have funny little vehicles that can run on them. One vehicle, which is extremely heavy, is the locomotive - gasoline driven - which you can pull quite a lot of cars. And it is armored - and it's aromored so it would resist rifle bullets and machine-gas bullets. Of course it wouldn't resist anything like a bazooka in the modern army. But in those days there were no bazookas. Well, we laid this track down in a place that was a bit dangerous because shells would keep falling alarmingly on you and on the track, and you'd have to run out and fix the track.

I was standing at one place quite near the track, and I could see the locomotive coming. It was pulling two or three little cars behind it, and - all of a sudden - a shell hit smack on the track and blew a big crater just ahead of the locomotive so that the locomotive, when it came there, just fell upside down into the hole.

When this happened, if we had a crew of men, we'd rush out there, and we'd take a section of track, and we'd tie it on to the engine, so that if the engine fell over on its botton the way it should be, it would all ready be on the track. And then we'd start digging under one and such that it would fall over from where it was to a lower point, and when it landed, it would be on the rails - that was how you got it out.

inally, I did have a little time of so-called trench warfare in the sense that we were in trenches, and there was a great deal of shooting, but we as engineers were not required to go over the top shouting, and do an attack. However, I got a sort of taste of it to the extent that I got horribly, horribly scared at times. And anybody who tells you that he went to a war and he got where the shooting is, and was not scared, is just a liar. I don't think it's possible, you just get so scared. You're just absolutely persuaded that you're going to die, even though maybe the risk isn't really so great on a statistical basis. But you don't go by that. You just have something scared out of you. So I had just a little bit - a taste of that. And then - - came Armistice Day - Boy, was that a suprise! Wild delirium - these people had just been through hell! The funny thing was, they felt, we won! we won! The Boche had gotten such an ascendancy over them, it was just awful.

Gradually we were sent down to await transporation home and the only transportation home was boats, and they relied mostly on freighters. We were sent down to the neighborhood of Bordeaux, and billeted in French people's homes while we waited for a boat. While we were there, a soldier was court-martialed for rape, and I was appointed as his defender because I was bilingual. The main thing was to get the girl persuaded that anything she said wouldn't get back to her parents. I talked to the girl, and explained that if the Amerivan soldier should be convicted of rape, he would be dishonorably discharged and sent home in disgrace, and his life would be ruined. And she admitted to me when I asked her, that there had been some petting and necking - of course you can't rape a woman against her will, without knocking her out first - but she was scared stiff of her parents. I promised her that if she told the truth, her testimony would be kept absolutely secret.

Well, after I got this man off, I was just naturally elected to defend every other soldier accused of rape, as long as I was there (I think there were four), and I got every one of them off. In all the cases there was a petting party first - and then the man became - well, sort of violent. And that was very normal, because with a young healthy, attractive soldier billeted in a house where there's a girl - well, she doesn't have to be so wonderful.

While I was at Bordeaux, because I was bilingual, I was also appointed to settle property damage claims against soldiers, claims brought by the French house owners whom they were billeted with. I got so fed up with that thing that I went to my Colonel (I was captain by this time, I think). He said, "every regiment gets soaked for this." And I said,"Well it just shouldn't be. You have soldiers, and you're supposed to billet them somewhere. Now the soldiers should be in army barracks or in a properly operated army camp, but what you do is put these men in these billets where they're bound to damage property. For instance, if somebody throws a baseball or knocks a foul, and by mistake it goes through a window, well, they want you to pay for the window."

And the Colonel said, "Well, I know, but they've been getting this - charging every regiment that came by."

But I said," well, I don't care whether they've been charging them or not, it shouldn't be, and I respectfully suggest to you, Sir, that you should go in and make a stand on this bsiness, and if you talk to the right people, they cannot in conscience do anything else but say that the government will pick up the bill."

And he said, "Still, the trouble is that every regiment that's gone through here has gotten soaked, and you are asking that you be the vary first one."
Well, damned if he didn't go in and make a loud speech about it, and he got to higher authority, and got to speak to major - generals and what not, and finally they said, all right, hereafter the Federal Government will pick up the bill.

hile they were waiting for a ship, they organized football teams and played regimental football games. Hammond bet a good deal on his regiment's team. This team had a wonderful athlete named Eddie Caw. Hammond later helped him get into Cornell, where Claw became quite a football star. He could really take off - and, thanks to him, their regimental team won. Hammond also played poker with the football wagers; he ended up with winnings of $2,000 mostly in dirty one and two dollar bills. When he got home, he bought his first Buick with them.

Finally they put us on a freighter that they had fitted up to carry as many men as it possibly could. They had bunks stacked up so the amount of space they occupied was just the same amount of space these men would occupy if they were all standing up instead of lying down. Food went on continuously and there were lines of men shuffling up to get it. And when we got into New York Harbor, we were told we couldn't all come up on deck, or the boat would very likely roll over.

They mustered us out very fast. They deloused, cleansed, and disinfected us, and gave us a crew out and a very thorough physical examination, and at the end of the line, they stamped on your paper, "Free from Vermin" and "Free from Venereal Disease, and that was that.


 
   
Chapter IX. With the Gray Motor Company, Detroit    Index

ęCopyright 1974, Stuyvesant Barry All Rights Reserved May not be copied, published, used on anyone else's web pages or in any way without express written permission.


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