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Dental Bulletin Supplement to the Army Medical Bulletin
DENTAL BULLETIN SUPPLEMENT TO THE ARMY MEDICAL BULLETIN
VOLUME 10, NO. 1 (JANUARY 1939)
THE DIARY OF A DENTAL OFFICER
(Among the papers turned over to the Dental Division of the Surgeon General’s Office, after the death of our beloved Col. Robert Todd Oliver, was a letter from Col. Raymond E. Ingalls, Retired. Attached to the letter was a copy of his diary written at the time the first group of dental officers sailed for France in the summer of 1917. Because of its universal interest and the fascinating and exciting story which it unfolds, it is published herewith with Col. Ingall’s kind permission.
It is hoped we may be able to secure other interesting items which give the inside story of the experiences of our dental officers in various historical periods of our Dental Corps.)
July 29, 1917, Sunday:
The first United States Army dental unit with the American Expeditionary Force in the World War, consisting of the following officers and enlisted men, were gathered in New York enroute to France.
Capt. Robert T. Oliver, D.C.
Capt. Rex H. Rhoades, D.C.
Capt. Raymond E. Ingalls, D.C.
1st Lt. George D. Graham, D.C.
1st Lt. William S. Rice, D.C.
1st Lt. John B. Wagoner, D.R.C.
Sgt. Lee Wade, Med. Dept.
Sgt. M. F. Henry, Med. Dept.
Pvt. 1st Cl. John E. Carr, Med. Dept.
Pvt. 1st Cl. William J. Oldring, Med. Dept.
Pvt. 1st Cl. Erskine Russell, Med. Dept.
We received notice that the telephone would not be utilizedto receive information as to the time of sailing or the name of the transport on which we were to embark. Extreme care must be taken that information as to sailings will not reach the enemy. An officer of our unit was detailed each day to report in person to the Quartermaster at Hoboken for possible orders. The order came today. Capt. Oliver, Capt. Rhoades, Lt. Rice and I were quartered in adjoining rooms at the Wallick Hotel, while Lt.
Graham and Lt. Wagoner were just across Broadway at the Astor.
The entire personnel were abroad the U.S.A.C.T. “Saratoga” at the North German Lloyd S.S. Co. docks, Pier No. 1, Hoboken, at 11 A.M. Our freight and baggage, consisted of 57 pieces of dental supplies and 23 pieces of personal effects, not including the personal baggage of the enlisted men.
The complete passenger list included the medical officers, one dental officer, about 65 nurses and enlisted men of Base Hospital No. 8; a battalion of the 5th Field Artillery; a battalion of the 7th Field Artillery; our dental unit; and other casuals. With ship’s officer's and crew, 1,523 persons were aboard. The “Saratoga” remained at the dock over night.
July 30, 1917, Monday:
Our transport left the pier at 6:15 A.M., steaming down the Hudson River to Upper Bay at a point opposite Thompkinsville, Staten Island, there to await completion of the fleet reported to consist of four transports and several convoys. Weather was extremely hot and the bay calm without the slightest breeze.
As our ship was riding at anchor, about 1:30 P.M., a group of us were sitting in the deck chairs on the port promenade deck. A white ship was noticed several hundred years away coming towards us at right angles to our port side. Later we learned that this ship was the U.S.A.T. “Panama” just getting into port from the Canal Zone. As required in coming into port, she was sailing in charge of a pilot. It was reported that the Captain of the “Panama” was taking a bath at the time The ship was coming toward our broadside but we thought the pilot would change his course to the right or left of us. When within one hundred yards it was still coming on directly at us, and we knew that a collision was inevitable. The “Panama,” was backing water, but too late. It could be seen that we would be rammed just astern of amidships. I took a tight hold on the rail, thinking the impact might knock me down, but, as the bow of the “Panama” hit and drove a hole into the “Saratoga” about 15 feet, our ship merely trembled. It seemed more like the crushing of an egg shell.
The passengers conducted themselves splendidly as well as the ship’s officers, but it seemed that most of the civilian crew were in a state of turmoil. They were in a scramble to get off the ship. The bow of the “Panama” was held in the breach. Some one in our group mentioned that the bulkheads would hold and that the ship would only settle slightly in the water, so we were in no hurry about leaving. Distress whistles were sounding from both the “Saratoga” and the “Panama”. Soon a number of harbor craft were around us. A young naval officer who was in charge of a number of “gobs” manning the fore and aft guns, came by and advised us to get off quickly, remarking that the bulkheads might give way at any moment and the ship sink like a rock. He also advised us to secure life preservers without delay. I returned to my cabin below, a cabin shared with Lt. Rice, to secure a life preserver. All of this time I held a camera in my hands. As I left the cabin with the life preserver and the camera still in hand it seemed foolish to hang on to a camera under such conditions, so I went back to the cabin and left it on a bunk. Out in the hallway a nurse was found lying in a faint. It seems she had purchased a rubber life saving suit, which she had not as yet tried on, so, in attempting to get into it, she had it hind-side before. She became frightened and dropped in a faint. Several men picked her up, life suit and all; and carried her out to a life boat.
On returning to my former station, on the promenade deck, none of my companions were in sight. A number of men were seen climbing onto the deck of the “Panama” which was still held in the breach, so I joined this group and also went up on the deck of the “Panama”, climbing up monkey-fashion over the rails. From the main deck I climbed to the promenade deck where an excellent view was obtained of the excitement below. By this time the stern of the “Saratoga” had settled so that it was only about six feet from the water level. A harbor tug pushing a barge had shoved the barge under the stern. A swarm of men were jumping off onto the barge, not singly but a half a dozen at a time. Other tugs and harbor craft were around the “Saratoga”. Attempts were being made to lower life boats but without much success as the crew did not seem to be trained in lifeboat drill. In fact there did not seem to be much of a crew as
most of them were busy trying to leave the ship. One soldier jumped from the main deck into a tug, a distance of about fifty feet, and sustained a broken leg. Others were sliding down ropes. Capt. Oliver saved his portable typewriter by tossing it to a man in a tug who made a neat catch. He then slid down into the tug on a rope and received a bad rope burn on his hands.
After some minutes all passengers were off. It was reported that no lives were lost and but two men hurt. Had the “Saratoga” sunk where anchored, she would have disappeared from sight as the water there was very deep. Some tugs threw her lines and succeeded in towing her a distance of two miles to a point within one hundred yards of the Morse Dry Dock, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She settled in the mud there about four hours later.
As the “Saratoga” was being towed away from the location where she had been riding at anchor, I heard my name called from a tug. There was Capt. Oliver with the other members of our group in an Army Quartermaster tug, the “Scout”. It seems that he had prevailed upon the captain of the tug to carry our party over to the “Saratoga” at Bay Ridge or to any point where she might again drop anchor, that we might retrieve our personal belongings. After a short run we were soon along-side of the “Saratoga” again at Bay Ridge. She had settled so far in the water that there was not much difficulty in climbing the rope ladder to the main deck. We soon had our steamer trunks and hand baggage on ropes and over the side into the tug. We found out later that we were the only passengers who had saved their personal baggage. The next morning the ship was sunk fast in the mud with only the masts and some of the superstructure visible. We then returned to Pier No. 2, Hoboken. All passengers were transferred to the U.S.A.C.T. “Finland” which was in dock at this pier.
Weather extremely hot. Cabins stifling. No breeze. Sea calm with surface glassy.
The New York papers carried headlines of the ramming. It was reported that the pilot in charge of the “Panama” as she steamed into the bay was of pro-German inclination, although information was not available as to whether or not the ramming
July 31, 1917,Tuesday:
We made a trip by subway and elevated today to Bay Ridge to determine the status of our dental supplies aboard the “Saratoga”. Four water soaked chest for which I was responsible and accountable were removed from room No. 57. This was the baggage room on the aft main deck. The balance of 53 pieces of dental supplies were in the hold.
At 3:00 P.M., all troops on the “Finland” were placed on barges and sent to Fort Totten, Long Island. The nurses on board were returned to Ellis Island. All others resumed their former status as before embarkation on the “Saratoga”. The members of our dental unit were allowed to remain in the “Finland” until the following day.
The weather reported today as being the hottest in forty-seven years, It was quite impossible to sleep in the stuffy cabins even with the electric fans running.
August 1, 1917, Wednesday:
Captains Oliver and Rhoades, Lieut. Rice, and I returned to the Hotel Wallick; Lieutenants Graham and Wagoner reengaged rooms at the Hotel Astor, 45th and Broadway.
Capt. Rhoades and Lieut. Graham made a trip to the “Saratoga” this morning. They reported that it was impossible to determine whether or not all of our dental supplies were under water.
The temperature continues high. A ride on the top deck of a Fifth Avenue bus out Riverside Drive affords some relief, We all take advantage of the opportunity for cold baths in our hotel rooms.
Telegrams were sent to relatives advising them of our new status.
August 2, 1917, Thursday:
Newspapers report 137 deaths in New York the last three days from heat prostrations.
Extent of damage to dental property still undetermined.
August 3, 1917, Friday:
All dental property on the “Saratoga” reported to be under water. It will be impossible to raise the ship within one month and there is no intention or removing the cargo until after that time.
Capt. Oliver sent a telegram today to the Surgeon General, stating that all dental property on the “Saratoga” was a total loss and requested the following: (1) To abandon the property; (2) To be relieved from its accountability and responsibility; (3) For issue from the New York Medical Supply Base six new and complete portable outfits, one complete laboratory outfit, two base outfits (less electrical equipment), two complete sets of additional articles, and duplication of purchase authorized July 28th, i.e., teeth, facings, crowns, vulcanite rubber, etc.
August 4, 1917, Saturday:
Most of the day spent at Coney Island mingling with the large Saturday afternoon crowd.
August 5, 1917, Sunday:
Made the required daily contact with the Quartermaster at Hoboken for transport assignment. Awaiting reply to telegram of August 3rd in reference to new supplies.
August 6, 1917, Monday
Transportation secured for our unit on the U.S.A.C.T. “Finland” with instructions to board before noon Tuesday.
Request in telegram of August 3rd to the Surgeon General disapproved for all supplies except portable. These supplies were sent today from the New York Supply Depot to Pier No. 2, to be placed on the “Finland”. Five boxes of base dental sup plies from the S. S. White Dental Supply. Co., Philadelphia, were also received today and placed on the “Finland”.
August 7, 1917, Tuesday:
All members of our unit on board the “Finland” before 12 M. We sailed at 1:30 P.M. There was very little excitement as our
ship pulled away from the dock as friends and relatives could not be advised as to the sailing. time. Our ship dropped anchor at a point between Fort Hamilton, Long Island, and Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, remaining there until 8:00 P.M.
The entire fleet of five transports, one cruiser, and two destroyers sailed at 8:00 P.M. out into the Atlantic. With the crew and passengers there were 2,561 persons aboard.
In addition to our unit of dental officers the following dental reserve officers were on board:
1st Lt. Albert M. Applegate, N.G., July 31, 1916, D.R.C. July 16, 1917; Assigned to Base
Hospital No. 8.
1st Lt. R. K. Thompson, D.R.C., June 15, 1917; assigned to 1st U. S. Engineers.
1st Lt. J. B. Watson, D.R.C., July 5, 1917; assigned to Base Hospital No. 9.
1st Lt. H. L. Bull, D.R.C., July 12, 1917; assigned to Base Hospital No. 9.
1st Lt. Wm. W. Irving, D.R.C., July 21, 1917; assigned to Base Hospital No. 8.
August 8, 1917, Wednesday:
The evening seemed long owing to the fact that all lights on the ship were switched off at dark to prevent attracting the enemy U boats. Sentries were posted on the decks with instructions to stop any one from smoking as the light from cigars or cigarette or burning matches would also be an attraction. There was nothing to pass the evenings but to gather in groups and talk.
Today at 2:30 P.M. there was boat drill for all passengers with life preservers. There were an insufficient number of life boats and rafts to handle all passengers. The dental unit was assigned to life raft numbered 11-A on the aft promenade deck. A total of 30 persons were assigned to this raft which was placed in charge of Captain Oliver. The raft will float 20 persons, not on the raft itself but by hanging onto the ropes attached to it. This raft was at the bottom of a pile of twelve. It would be necessary to first remove by hand or steam wench and place over the side three life boats before starting to lower the pile of rafts. When assembled for drill this morning it would seem
impossible to make room to lower boats and rafts due to the crowded condition as we were all packed together in a solid mass. Expecting a mad scramble and possibly a fight in case it was necessary to abandon the ship, some of the officers and men were preparing for the emergency. One officer showed me a hunting knife he was carrying, and another a black-jack. In anticipating probable trouble on being forced to leave the ship while at sea, I made up my mind that if such a contingency occurred I would keep away from the overcrowded after deck, and, with life preserver on, jump over the side and take a chance on grabbing something afloat.
August 9, 1917, Thursday:
I spent sometime today in taking pictures of the transports and the convoy. We managed to find some time each day to indulge in the “great American game” of cards in one of our cabins.
August 10, 1917, Friday:
The usual life boat and raft drill with life preservers. The officer in command of troops, Colonel Patrick, 1st Engineers, prescribed setting up exercises every day for officers and men. We exercised for 20 minutes at 3:30 P.M.
August 11, 1917, Saturday:
A competent instructor in French was found among the officers so several of us joined his class at 10:30 A.M., lasting one hour. To be continued daily.
August 12, 1917, Sunday:
Beginning today life boat drill was increased to twice daily, 9:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. French at 9:45 A.M.
August 13, 1917, Monday:
As directed by Capt. Oliver, I began at 8:30 A.M. today, giving instruction to the dental reserve officers aboard on the army system of records and other paper work as far as it per-
tains to the duties of dental officers. In addition to the reserve officers in the class, Sergeants Wade and Henry attached to our unit were also directed to take the instruction.
August 14, 1917, Tuesday:
Instruction work begun on Monday continued. A talk on customs of the service added.
We are now about half of the distance across the Atlantic. The course is not given to the passengers so we are in the dark as to our latitude. A bulletin posted by the officer in command of troops directs all officers, enlisted men and nurses to keep their life preservers in their possession at all times until port is reached. We must keep the life preservers in our hand or in reach of our hand at all times. A submarine attack or submarine sighted is to be signalized by the sound of six blasts of the ship’s whistle and the firing of one of the guns mounted forward or aft.
A flock of sea gulls was sighted this morning off the starboard bow. This was viewed with suspicion as gulls will follow submarines to pick up garbage. One of our convoying destroyers left the formation to investigate, cruising around in the vicinity under forced draft but soon returned to position. All of the garbage of our entire fleet is burned and not thrown overboard as it would be a tell tale sign for the U boats.
Enlisted man died and buried at sea, midnight.
August 15, 1917, Wednesday:
We ran into a heavy fog bank in the night. In fact it was so thick when I went to my cabin about ten last night that one could not see at all. The fog coupled with the darkness of the night made just inky blackness. In groping my way to the cabin, a sentry yelled out to me: “Put out that cigar”! As I was not smoking I concluded that he had seen the luminous dial of my wrist watch and had mistaken it for a lighted cigar. Without replying I pulled down the sleeve of my O.D. shirt over the watch and went on.
It will always remain a mystery to me just how a fleet of eight vessels a few hundred yards apart can cruise together at
top speed on a night like this without a single light showing, not daring to use the radio, and keep from ramming each other. But somehow our clean-cut, square-jawed naval Captain in command of the fleet (the “Finland” is the flag ship) inspired confidence as we watched him in daylight calmly pacing the bridge.
As I was about to drop off to sleep a light was noticed coming through the port hole. On investigating it was found to be the search-light from our ship sweeping out through the fog in a semi-circle. Then just as suddenly all was darkness again. It was learned the next morning that three of the ships, one of them the “Finland”, had nearly come together. Although there was danger of the search light giving our location to the undersea craft, it was the only way the fleet commander had of extricating himself from a precarious situation, and probably prevented at least one of our ships from being rammed.
At daylight this morning one of our transports was missing. There was discussion as to its location or possible fate. However, it was soon sighted on the horizon coming up, far astern, and rejoined us about noon.
At 8 A.M. a tank steamer appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and furnished oil to the destroyers. As a group of us were leaning over the rail watching this transfer of fuel, it was noticed that the destroyers were painted in two shades of gray, a light and dark gray. Some one inquired as to the reason for this. The particular destroyer we were looking at for the moment had a light gray hull and the superstructure and smoke stacks were in a dark gray. Lieut. Rice immediately solved the problem. “They originally painted the whole ship a dark gray”, he stated positively, “but the action of the salt waves against the hull has gradually changed it to a lighter color”. One member of our, group observed another destroyer nearby where the shades of color were reversed—the hull was a dark gray and the smoke stacks were light. “I think you have the right solution, Rice,” he said, “but isn’t it strange how the waves would wash against the smoke stacks of the other destroyer and never touch the hull?”
Instruction to D.R.C. men continued at 8:30 A.M. Boat drill at 9:30 A.M. The usual twenty minute exercise at 3:30 P.M.
As darkness and fog again settled down upon us in the evening, the formation of the fleet changed to lessen the chances of collision during the night. We change to single file formation, with the “Finland” in the lead next behind the cruiser, and the destroyers are to the port and starboard of the cruiser.
The weather is much cooler in this latitude—about the same as the northern end of the Bay of Biscay, we gathered from an engineer who was off watch. Water reported about 60 degrees. Although the sea was running quite high, nevertheless it was considered smooth for the Atlantic. If necessity arose, life boats could probably be launched without difficulty.
August 16, 1917, Thursday:
Instruction to D.R.C. men continued, also the usual French lessons at 9:30 A.M. for one hour. On account of rain, recall sounded (call to quarters) for life boat drill by the time we had reached deck in response to the signal for this drill.
A bulletin directs that all passengers are to be on deck at 4:00 A.M. beginning tomorrow morning and every morning thereafter until we reach port. This was an additional precautionary measure as a favorite time for submarine attack is during the early morning hours at day break. The bulletin also announced that if a man should fall overboard, the ship would not stop to pick him up. Such procedure would endanger the whole fleet to enemy attack.
August 17, 1917, Friday:
All passengers up and dressed before 4:00 A.M. Meal hours changed to first sitting at 5:00 for breakfast, lunch at 11:00 and dinner at 4 :00.
Last night, three of the transports became detached from the rest of the fleet due to heavy fog and at day-break were not to be seen. They soon appeared on the horizon far in the rear making fast speed and joined us before noon.
Shortly after mid-day a destroyer flotilla, coming from the east, appeared. It consisted of six boats. They were indeed a welcome sight, giving an added sense of security, for the completion of our journey. The most dangerous part of the cross-
ing is just ahead. Our former convoy of one cruiser and two destroyers turned in their course and when last seen they were on the horizon returning toward the United States.
Instruction to the men of the D.R.C. completed.
Weather slightly warmer. Sea choppy.
August 18, 1917, Saturday:
August 19, 1917, Sunday:
Sunday service by an Army Chaplain in the morning.
Encountered our first contact with the U boats in mid-afternoon today. The periscope of a submarine was sighted about two miles forward of our fleet. The submarine was submerging at the time. A destroyer gave Fritz two shots but they were apparently without effect. The transports were traveling in group formation at the time with the destroyers forward and to the port and starboard. Immediately on sight of the submarine a signal was given and all transports turned at an angle of 90 degrees, swinging into a single file line. The object of this maneuver was to decrease our chances of being hit by a torpedo launched from the U boat. Before submerging the submarine can get the range, the direction we are traveling and the speed and then after submerging, fire a torpedo and still hit the target. In changing his course the fleet commander greatly lessened our chances of being hit. A watch in the “crow’s nest” of the “Finland” reported the wake of a torpedo passing within two hundred yards of our ship. No attempt was made at this time by a destroyer to drop a depth bomb.
Special Sunday dinner with music furnished by an impromptu orchestra made up of enlisted men.
August 20, 1917, Monday:
At 8:45 this morning we were sitting in the cabin shared by Lieutenant Rice and myself, intensely interested in the usual morning game. Our chief opened the betting with three aces. “Dusty” Rhoades merely stayed with his “Two Blondes and a brunette”. “Lizzie” Rice holding two pair, aces up, not only
“saw” but raised. “Miss” Ingalls “trailed along” with three “ducks”. A small straight looked like a million dollars to “Georgie” Graham and he raised with considerable enthusiasm. After some pondering, “Wag” Wagoner dropped out holding a queen high flush. At this point in the game there suddenly came a blast of the ship’s whistle, deep but clear and admonishing! We remained motionless, no one speaking. This blast was followed by another, and another, and still another! Instinctively each of us was counting them. The count reached six! We all dashed out the cabin door, down the narrow hallway and out on deck, life preservers in hand. The passengers were all orderly but talking and scanning the sea. Then came a long bang from a six inch gun mounted on the forward port promenade deck. We walked in that direction. Six young “gobs” and a petty officer were manning the gun. They were now firing continuously with much enthusiasm and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Their target seemed to be the wake of a submarine about 500 yards away. Although they were letting Fritz have it in rapid succession, most of the shots would ricochet and the second splash in the sea could be seen a half-mile further away.
There was apparently a sizeable nest of the Boch in the vicinity for the other ships in the squadron began opening fire together with the destroyers. On sight of the undersea craft, the fleet immediately began changing its course to throw the enemy off range. The course was changed several times during the engagement. Four subs in all were reported. The first depth bomb dropped off the stern of a destroyer came to me as quite a shock and, I might say, a jolt as well. Captain Rhoades and I were standing on the port side of the promenade deck when we observed the wake of a submarine about two hundred yards away between our transport and another. It was moving in the opposite direction. We were standing well back from the rail, for in case we were hit there would be less danger from flying splinters. We were speculating as to the possibility of the sub having our range. If so, the “Finland” made a beautiful target at that close range. Just then one of our destroyers, traveling at top speed (and it presented a very pretty picture churning through the, water at 35 to 40 miles an hour) shot by the stern of the “Finland” in the direction of the wake. We did not see
the depth bomb as it was dropped over the stern of the destroyer, but there was terrific report. We thought for the instant that a tornado had hit the “Finland” as she seemed to tremble. Captain Rhoades, clutching my arm, remarked: “We're hit!” I was never so sure of anything in my life. A six inch gun has a loud bark but when a depth bomb explodes, it sounds as though all hell has torn loose. Then we saw the water shoot up in the air to a height of 200 feet and realized that it was the work of the destroyer.
The engagement was over about 10 o’clock with a lull of about 15 minutes shortly after 9:00, when we seemed to run into a second flotilla of the under-sea craft. There were several depth bombs dropped and probably 100 shots fired from the deck guns. The fleet continued to maneuver at full speed. The destroyers trailed all indications of submarines at a speed probably in excess of 35 miles an hour. One torpedo traveling slowly and evidently launched from a distance of 1,500 yards or more, passed 200 feet from the bow of the “Finland”. One submarine was certainly sunk and possibly another. None of the transports or convoy were hit. The passengers conducted themselves exceptionally well throughout the engagement. The 160 trained nurses on board deserve much credit for their behavior.
The only sign of undue strain came from a captain, a company commander. Near the end of our brush with the enemy craft, he seemed to crack. He stood on the deck below the bridge and started yelling in an excited voice to the fleet commander, pointing out to sea at some real or imaginary foe. Some of his companions dragged him from the deck still screaming and struggling. We all felt that we would not care to be a member of his company in a time of pressing engagement.
The last shots were fired, about 10:00 A.M. Within two more hours we were within the mined harbor of St. Nazaire. I am sure we all had a great feeling of relief at being, in protected waters. The masts of two ships sticking out of the water were seen in the mouth of the harbor. These boats had been sunk by torpedos. One of them was the U.S.S. “Kansas”. It had been sunk about a month previous. She was a stock boat carrying about 1,000 horses. All were lost.
The five transports came into the harbor first and dropped
anchor temporarily. The destroyers soon followed. All passengers on the transports naturally had a very kindly feeling for the destroyers and the men on them. Had they not assumed a paternal guardianship over us through two thousand miles of troubled waters? Would we still be above the surface if it had not been for their eternal vigilance? As the destroyers filed past us, each in turn was given rousing cheers. When ten thousand lusty men cheer with every ounce of energy at their command, the results are inspiring.
We were still about 50 miles from the city of St. Nazaire but shortly moved on to the town and dropped anchor just outside the tide locks about 4:30 P.M. It was necessary to wait about another hour for the tide to come in before we could go through the locks and pull up to the dock. Hundreds of the French people cheered as the “Finland” tied up to the dock about 6:00 P.M. All of the other transports were in dock by 7:30 P.M. No one was allowed ashore until the following morning. All passengers were particularly happy. There was a hop on board from 7 to 9 P.M.
August 21, 1917, Tuesday:
Although the utmost secrecy prevails at all times relative to actions against the enemy at sea, nevertheless, it was reported this morning (but not authenticated) that three destroyers went out during the night to the scene of the engagement of yesterday and when the submarines came up for air and to recharge their batteries, they engaged and sank three. Bodies of enemy sailors were found floating on the surface, indicating that at least one of the U boats was sunk by our fleet. The Germans manning the undersea craft are really on the more dangerous mission. My hat is off to them for they are, indeed, a courageous and valiant lot.
The, business of unloading the ship began at once. Tons of munitions, food stuff and equipment of all kinds were hoisted from the holds of the vessels and placed on the docks.
Just after breakfast we first placed foot on French soil. All members of our unit reported to Base Headquarters. We were given temporary assignment to Base Hospital No. 1, St. Nazaire.This assignment was given in case we were obliged to leave the “Finland” at once and before going to Paris. How-
ever, it was not necessary to report at the Base Hospital as we were allowed to remain on the “Finland” over-night and continue with our meals on board. Our orders read to report to General Pershing in person—that is our War Department order, and it was merely a question of getting our equipment and personal baggage from the ship and going on to Paris.
We changed our United States money into the currency of France.
This evening we had our first taste of French cafe life when we patronized the Grand Cafe. We found that the French cooking was well up to its reputation and more. The many French pastry stores were completely cleaned out of stock shortly after the American soldiers came ashore and at prices in excess of the customary charges.
August 22, 1917, Wednesday:
Our entire unit with enlisted men, dental equipment and supplies, and personal baggage was aboard train and we left for Paris at 10:21 A.M. Although the coaches were smaller than we were accustomed to in the United States, they were very comfortable. Lunch today was our first French meal. We were well impressed with the quality, quantity, and the reasonable charges, especially considering that this is in a period of war.
Beautiful farming country enroute with many small farms and stone dwellings.
We arrived in Paris at 8:15 P.M. The officers decided to go to the Hotel Continental. The enlisted men were sent to the casual camp.
Conveyances from railway stations to hotels were rather scarce in Paris at this time, both motor vehicles and horses were needed in the military service and the younger men were in demand up in the front line trenches. The only available transportation upon our arrival was an old rickety Victoria, drawn by an animal which had cheated the glue factory by several years: The decrepit driver was well past the fighting age. There was some question as to whether or not the rig would hold the six of us plus the driver and our baggage. Not being able to talk French, it was with some difficulty that we made him understand our destination: However, we made it, slowly, without being
obliged to walk.
By the time we had secured rooms at the hotel the hour was getting late and we were too tired for sight-seeing or frivolities, so after a short walk along the Rue de Italian, we retired.
August 23, 1917, Thursday:
We reported to the Commanding General of the A. E. F., General Pershing, at the Palais Royalle this morning. The General greeted Captain Oliver most cordially and expressed satisfaction that he (Captain Oliver) had succeeded in securing War Department orders to bring a unit of dental officers with him. The General remarked: “I knew you would do it”.
Our next official call was at the office of the Chief Surgeon of the A. E. F., Colonel Bradley. He is located at the Hotel St. Anne, together with the Chief Quartermaster, Chief Signal Officer, etc.
We drew mileage of $19.39 for travel from St. Nazaire to Paris, 277 miles at 7 cents per mile.
Chiefly as a matter of curtailing expense, we gave up our more sumptuous quarters at the Hotel Continental and moved over to the Hotel Regina on the Rue de la Honore.
Attended the Follies Bergeres in the evening.
August 24, 1917, Friday:
Our unit was granted permission to remain in Paris for a period of ten days to visit hospitals for the purpose of study and observation.
August 31, 1917, Friday:
During the past week Captain Oliver secured assignments for the members of our unit. Captain Oliver with Lt. Wagoner as prosthetic assistant, was given station at G. H. Q. The balance of stations Captain Oliver allowed us to choose according to rank. Captain Rhoades and enlisted assistants, Pvt. 1st Cl. John E. Carr, M. D., with their dental outfit left today for the artillery training camp at Valdehon, France. It was with much regret that we experienced the first split-up of our unit, knowing that our happy close contact would soon be at an end.
September 1, 1917, Saturday:
General Pershing and Staff, including Captain Oliver and Lt. Wagoner, left Paris this date to establish the new G. H. Q. at Chaumont. The enlisted assistants, Sgt. Lee Wade and Sgt. M. F. Henry, accompanied Capt. Oliver. Capt. Oliver assumed the office of Chief Dental Surgeon, A. E. F.
I was assigned to act as Division Dental Surgeon of the 1st Division now in training at Gondrecourt. Lt. Rice was designated as my assistant. We departed today for our stations, accompanied by our enlisted assistants, Pvt. 1st Cl. Erskine Russell and Pvt. 1st Cl. Wm. J. Oldring.
Lt. Graham also left today for Cosne with duties as Dental Supply Officer.
Lt. Col. Raymond E. Ingalls,
Dental Corps, Rtd.