Usually when looking for a Gutenberg book on a particular topic, their search feature is the best way find it. This time the book just plopped in my lap! I admit, I read every night in bed. I’ve always loved to read, and usually it’s the latest old fiction books from Gutenberg. Rather an oxymoron, eh? Calling books published from the mid-1800s to the 19-teens latest?!
But a couple nights ago, I went to latest books, and there sat a very intriguing name: What the “Boys” Did Over There. Very interesting coincidence since I’ve been researching a WWI relative. I was touched by the page following the table of contents:
This book is affectionately dedicated to “The Boys” who found their final rest in the Hallowed Soil of Martyred Belgium and France, by their more fortunate comrades.
Here’s an excerpt about how the book was written:
IN ASSEMBLING the stories contained in this book we have endeavored to put in realistic and readable form some of the actual, and authentic, experiences of soldiers and officers of the Allied Forces, who have returned to their homes after nobly sacrificing themselves in the service of their respective countries.
It has been our endeavor to give to these stories as much of the personality of “The Boys,” who have told us their experiences, as possible, by using their own words whenever their physical condition permitted them to write their own stories.
“Wow”, I’m thinking. Here’s a book written by boys who were there − giving themselves for their countries. And these memories were written immediately after their return from the war [publication date 1918, 1919], when everything was still fresh in their minds. This isn’t history in the usual sense of the word, when someone looks back and gathers facts about an event. This is like being there. Bless you, boys.*
As I began to read, the horrors of war in general, and specifically the gassing so many experienced, were made starkly real. One of the shortest stories in the book follows:
THE HUN I WAS SURE I “GOT”
IT WAS sometime last April, 1918, when we got the order we were going over. Our artillery opened up with a full barrage. We took the right flank, and another regiment of infantry took the left. The marines took the center.
We had been told time and time again if we had to use the bayonet to pull it out quick. But somehow or other I was doubtful about that. We were having a real American hand-to-hand fight with them when I got my eye on one, something we very seldom do.
Just as I got near him he threw his gun down, and his hands up, and yelled: “Kamerad, Kamerad.”
I said “Kamerad, hell,” and became so excited I gave him a long jab with my old American bayonet and hesitated before making an attempt to pull it out.
When I tried to, it was too late for it was wedged in too firmly. I put my foot on him and pulled and pulled, but the body lifted right up with the bayonet, so I thought I’d try my luck without a bayonet.
I released the bayonet from my rifle and left it as an American souvenir to the “Fritz”; one which he will never be able to appreciate.
This is all I remember of that battle.
~BY CORP. FRANK J. SEARS
Published by The Allied Overseas Veterans Stories Co., Inc, it’s a very compelling, somber read. If you like history, particularly WWI, check out this book.
- Private Jesse W. Wade, Dispatch rider No. 151023. Wounded by shrapnel in the shoulder in Flanders, wounded in the leg at Soissons, Veteran of the Mexican campaigns of 1914 and 1916. Seven times cited for gallantry by the French Government.
- Sergt. Jack Winston, No. 55525, 19th Batt., Canadian Infantry, 2nd Canadian Contingent. Wounded in the right arm, left ankle and right knee. Shell-shocked and buried; also gassed at second battle of Ypres.
- Pvt. Al. Barker, No. 118, 43rd Co., 5th Regt., American Marines. Shot in the knee and gassed at Chateau-Thierry, bayonet wounds in both feet at the Marne.
- Corp. Frank J. Sears, Co. A, 9th Infantry, 2nd Div., A.E.F. Shell-shocked and gassed at Chateau-Thierry. Decorated by the French Government with the “Croix de Guerre.”
- Private A. F. Edwards, No. 6857, 1st Batt., 1st Brigade, 1st Div., Canadian Inf. Wounded in the right hand, right arm and buried by shell.
- Machine gunner George Eckhart, No. 105688, First M. G. Batt., 1st Div., A.E.F. Wounded in the leg and gassed at Cantigny. Decorated by the French Government with the “Croix de Guerre.”
- Sergt. T. S. Grundy, 15918, Royal Fusileers, Middlesex Regt., English Army. Wounded in shoulder at Ypres and gassed at Loos. Decorated by the British Government with the “Mons Star.” One of the first hundred thousand.
- Sergt. Alexander Gibb, No. 444476, 26th Batt., New Brunswick Regt., 2nd Canadian Contingent. Wounded in both legs, shell-shocked and gassed at Ypres.
- F. G. McAvity, No. 91805, gunner of the 8th Battery, 1st Canadian Field Artillery. Wounded in the left foot, left thigh, left shoulder and gassed.
- Sergt. Frederick Ralph Muir, No. 81611, 10th Batt., C.E.F. Wounded at Festubert, Belgium. Leg amputated at the knee.
- Private George Oxton, 10th Batt., C.E.F., No. 81680. Wounded at Festubert, Belgium. Right leg amputated at hip.
- Pvt. John Miller, No. 122957, 96th Co., 6th Regt., U. S. Marines.
- Pvt. Jack Kneeland, No. 105, 43rd Co., 5th Regt., American Marines. Shrapnel wound in the head at Belleau Woods, wounded and gassed at Chateau-Thierry.
- Sergt. Mark L. Nicholson, No. 3736, 10th Liverpool Scottish, B.E.F. Wounded in head at Dardanelles. Partially blinded and gassed, Hooge, France.
- Sergt. E. D. G. Aylen, No. 475337, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (“Princess Pats”). Blinded in right eye at Hooge, France. Wounded in left shoulder.
- Sergt. Harry Hall, No. 19805, A Co., 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Contingent. Shrapnel wounds, left arm and leg, Givenchy, June, 1915.
- Lance Corporal Edmund Hall, 2nd Scottish Rifles, B.E.F. Regular Army, 15 years’ service, 3½ in France. Wounded, Battle of Somme, 1916. Decoration, Star of Mons.