June 10, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Rode S.E. on train to near Paris.
Got off train at Hadol.”
I can’t say for sure how direct this railroad route was, but it was a long trip by any measure, especially riding in a boxcar.
[The trip] carried the soldiers in close proximity to Paris, where from their
palatial box car accommodations they could obtain a panoramic view but could not visit it.
Along the way they received their first intimate glances of French life. They saw fatherless children at play, who begged them for “biskwee,” the American cracker form of hardtack. They sailed these little fellows what they cried for and enjoyed the ensuing scramble. They saw women in the fields, who stopped in their work as the soldiers passed. Old men, bent on carrying out at home the work of the young men who were now at the front, leaned on their scythes and looked with tired eyes at the passing train.
There was little cheering. In England the soldiers had laid this to the English jealousy of the American. In France they accounted it to the French people’s stricken condition. They were, the soldiers believed, too sad to cheer.
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