October 17, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“It rains here all the time. We are near Verdun. Hope they will let me rest a little.
By the sound of the artillery the war is not over yet.”
Verdun had been the scene of the longest battle of the war – the Battle of Verdun lasted from February to December 1916. Chaplain Edwards, in From Doniphan to Verdun, says the city had been decimated:
The history of Verdun has been already written. It held a most important position, lying directly over against the fortress captured in 1870 by the Germans. And its glorious defense in this war is well known. We held a most important part of the line for nearly a month. Verdun has suffered terribly from bombardment, and the surrounding country was desolation itself. There seemed to be no living trees. Killed by shell or gas, their jagged branches and broken, ghastly trunks are monuments to the fearful warfare that raged among them. It is a picture of Death. The ground is pitted with countless shell holes, and the evidence of the thousands slain before its heights is everywhere seen. Nowhere in France did the 140th see such a picture of utter desolation and destruction.
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