By John Hale Chipman, Class of 1919
“November 16, 1917 and Nov. 17.
Friday and Saturday, we spent in packing up our luggage and walking around the town and saying good bye to our friends and acquaintances. I went up the Groupement Headquarters and shook hands with my friend Captain Emmet who expressed himself as being very fortunate in making friends among us American boys and said that if Frenchmen in general could understand us, all would appreciate more. I will tell you more of Captain Emmet when I see you again.
At our last roll call, 1:30 P. M. Saturday we received orders that we would leave at 4 A. M. Sunday, Nov. 18 and to pack up and be ready. We needed no urging. However, as my luggage was all packed, I walked up to the other side of the town and told René Champsavin, my old friend, good-bye, and I hated to leave him, believe me. He is a good friend. Then I looked around the old town once more, recollecting my first incidents here and there, and laughing the with boys at our smash-ups here and there and so forth. For we were really leaving and will I ever see the place again? If so, it will be changed. My old friends, officers and poilus will either be home or gone from this earth. Anyway, my experiences and souvenirs of one of the most helpful periods of my life will never leave me.
Saturday night we turned in at 8:30 and at 4 A. M., 40 of us, our section, left in two camions [trucks] with our luggage to take the 7:00 A. M. train from M. N. D. for Paris. We arrived in the Solemn-Gay City at 2 P. M. and went down to the Hôtel des Etâts-Unis on Rue d’Autin. Here we were glad to welcome a normal life once again after spending 5 months in rustic ways, necessitated by war.
And so, our experiences stop here with the French Army.”