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A Volunteer Poilu   By: (1888-1968)

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First Page:

A VOLUNTEER POILU

by Henry Sheahan

To Professor Charles Townsend Copeland of Harvard University

Dear Copey,

At Verdun I thought of you, and the friendly hearth of Hollis 15 seemed very far away from the deserted, snow swept streets of the tragic city. Then suddenly I remembered how you had encouraged me and many others to go over and help in any way that we could; I remembered your keen understanding of the Epic, and the deep sympathy with human beings which you taught those whose privilege it was to be your pupils. And so you did not seem so far away after all, but closer to the heart of the war than any other friend I had.

I dedicate this book to you with grateful affection after many years of friendship.

Henry

Topsfield, September, 1916

Preface

I have ventured to call this book A Volunteer Poilu principally because we were known to the soldiers of the Bois le Prêtre as "les Poilus Américains." Then, too, it was my ambition to do for my comrades, the French private soldiers, what other books have done for the soldiers of other armies. The title chosen, however, was more than complimentary; it was but just. In recognition of the work of the Section during the summer, it was, in October, 1915, formally adopted into the French army; a French officer became its administrative head, and the drivers were given the same papers, pay, and discipline as their French comrades.

I wish to thank many of my old friends of Section II, who have aided me in the writing of this book.

HENRY SHEAHAN

Contents

I. THE ROCHAMBEAU S'EN VA T EN GUERRE

I A war time voyage The Rochambeau Loading ammunition and food supplies Personalities on board The dyestuffs agent The machine lathes man The Swede from Minnesota who was on his way to the Foreign Legion His subsequent history The talk aboard The French officer His philosophy of war Ernest Psichari Arrival at Bordeaux The Arabs at the docks The convalescent soldiers Across La Beauce The French countryside in war time.

II. AN UNKNOWN PARIS IN THE NIGHT AND RAIN.

Paris, rain, and darkness The Gardens of the Tuileries The dormitory The hospital at night Beginning of the Champagne offensive The Gare de la Chapelle at two in the morning The wounded The Zouave stretcher bearers The Arabs in the abandoned school Suburban Paris at dawn The home of the deaconesses.

III. THE GREAT SWATHE OF THE LINES

Nancy The porter's story Getting to the front What the phrase "the front" really means The sense of the front The shell zone The zone of quiet My quarters in the shelled house The fire shells Bombarded at night Death of the soldier fireman.

IV. LA FORET DE BOIS LE PRETRE

Le Bois le Prêtre Description History Les Glycines, "Wisteria Villa" The Road to the trenches At the trenches The painter's idea of "le sinistre dans l'art" The sign post The zone of violence The Quart en Réserve The village caught in the torment of the lines The dead on the barbed wire "The Road to Metz."

V. THE TRENCHES IN THE "WOOD OF DEATH."

The Trenches Organization Nature of the war Food, shelters, clothing, ammunition, etc. A typical day in the trenches Trench shells or "crapouilots" In the abri The tunnel The doctrinaire lieutenant of engineers.

VI. THE GERMANS ATTACK

The piano at Montauville An interrupted concert At the Quart The battle for the ridge of the Wood Fall of the German aeroplane Psychology of the men in the trenches Religion in the trenches

VII. THE TOWN IN THE TRENCHES

Poor old "Pont" Description of the town A civilian's story The house of the Captain of the Papal Zouaves Church of St. Laurent The Cemetery and its guardian.

VIII. MESSIEURS LES POILUS DE LA GRANDE GUERRE

En repos A village of troops Manners and morals The concert journal of the Bois le Prêtre Various poilus.

IX. PREPARING THE DEFENSE OF VERDUN

En permission State of France The France of 1905 and the France of 1915 The class of 1917 Bar le Duc The air raid Called to Verdun... Continue reading book >>




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