A Hell of a War

August 26, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“We have almost continuous artillery fire which does no material damage. The French artillery does not answer much which is a great disappointment to us Americans.”


This was a common refrain. The Americans had just joined the fight and were raring to go after a few months of training. The French had been in this war for four years and it’s not too surprising that they were a little less enthusiastic.

A story from Heroes of the Argonne:

The soldiers of the Thirty-fifth had trained until training no longer held a beloved spot in their hearts. They could not see their first life in the trenches in the light of the poilu. Having trained a year and crossed the ocean for action, they could not understand a man who would turn it down when it was right at hand. Just over the parapet were German trenches. In them were Germans. 

“This is a hell of a war,” said the doughboy. “Germans everywhere and they won’t let you shoot any.” 

“This ain’t a war,” his Buddie would answer. “The Frogs and Krauts got it fixed up between ‘em to spend their vacations where there ain’t nothin’ to bother ’em but scenery. How’re they gonna find out who’s winnin’ this affair?” 

“Maybe they got maps and figure it out in their heads.” 

“Yap ; but we won’t get home to help with the harvest next summer unless somebody does some fightin’.” 

“It does look like,” said the doughboy, “somebody might get hurt if they don’t quit firing those cannons once a week.”

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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