This post is one in a series from the personal diary of Dr. Harry Goodall, a member of Dartmouth’s class of 1898 and a Harvard-trained physician who volunteered to serve in the first World War. To start from the beginning, visit our introductory page. To read the diary in its entirety, visit Rauner Special Collections Library and ask to see the Harry Goodall papers (call number MS-397).
August 29, 1918
The incessant marching of troup [sic.], the noise of the airplanes kept me awake the first part of the night but later the fatigue brought a heavy sleep and I awoke in the early morning to find that it was raining.
After breakfast we went to the officers meeting and found that Tucker had assigned various buildings for the medical, surgical, etc. work. He assigned us to our duties and we promptly went to these quarters and began to arrange things for service.
By the middle of the morning it had cleared up and became very pleasant.
About this time, Col. Tucker sent for me and when I reached the office he introduced me to Col. Maddux. Without words Maddux told me to jump into his machine and come with him. As we were leaving the grounds he said “I have a job for you”. “I guess your commanding officer did not want to loose you as he tried to give me Munro when I wanted you”.
In a few moments we drove into the yard of a group of buildings near our own quarters and Maddux said “Here is a group of buildings I have selected for a hospital for gas cases and I want you to take command”. “In 72 hours I want you to have 1000 beds in readiness”. Then he told me he would have 50 enlisted men report to me by noon and that he would have an officer trained in gas work report to me the next morning.
With these few words Maddux jumped into his car and hurried away. I stood in the yard and looked about quite amazed – What should I do? Where should I begin?
Insofar as I could see I was the only human being on the area and I had but 72 hours to organize a thousand bed hospital – fortunately we had more than 72 hours.
After a time I came to my senses and started on a tour of inspection. I found that the buildings had been used as a hospital and later found that these buildings had been the hospital of the group in peace times. Consequently it should have been fully equipped but B.H. 45 had arrived before us and the men from that unit had been over and taken every conceivable thing that could be of use to them.
There were but 650 beds in all the buildings and there was not enough bedding etc. to make all these up.
The place was filthy and it did not seem possible for one to even get it clean in 72 hours.
Many supplies were necessary and the supplies of the center, the most of which were accumulated in the La March buildings was limited.
At 4 p.m. the promised men had not reported and I should have been thoroughly discouraged had it not been for the fact that I was delighted to get away from Tucker.
At 5 p.m. the men came – and the most forlorn lot of men one ever saw. They were class B men – men that had served in the infantry had been wounded and sent back and after their convalescence found to be unable to do front line duty.
This in itself was bad enough but the men were disgruntled, apparently nothing was so degrading to the fighting man as to be assigned to the medical department and for two weeks they gave me a lot of trouble.
My diary states that on Aug. 29th. 1918 – 50 enlisted men from the special Training Battalion at St. Aignan, then on duty with Evacuation Hospital *3 stationed at Toul, reported for duty at the gas Hospital, J.H. Group, in compliance with S.O. No. 7, Hdqrs. J. H. G. dated August 29, 1918.
The following are the men –
Aas 2110913 Jens Oscar
Allen 95669 John G.
Austin 38979 Pearle C.
Basile 40610 Samuel
Bowman 1597110 Neal Y.
Day Leland D.
Debau 81022 Alfred
Corsi 368814 Benjamin
Craze 1247246 Samuel
Fisher 2451597 Hyman
Forsling 1657246 Jno. R.
Foster 3191738 James
Frenette 63824 Henry W.
Gargano 54719 James
Hallebro 2851881 Ole
Georgediadis 3194803 George
Godson 1660002 John J.
Jackson 102151 George
Kelley 3194460 Frank
Kirkpatrick 549715 James T. Corporal
Kruszcynski 2095773 Matthew
Kurr 194463 Max L.
LeClair 44920 Dexter
Lawrence 1351215 Willie
LeBlanc 50052 Ames
Lemantovich 545319 Pete
Lundy 39146 Patrick J.
Lyons 2790670 George
McCauley 3198830 Michael
Mazzara 50318 Giuseppe
Noice 43360 Charles G.
Pauley 540745 Cornelius
Polavicks 1795738 Joseph
Powell 16822 Stratford G.
Reader 1677616 Oliver T.
Rericha 195441 Frank
Reynolds 2225207 Barbar
Roberts 52882 James
Rosan 41791 James
Siegars 2723974 Ernest E.
Silvas 47689 Valley
Smith 2309726 Bernice
Stockbridge 540624 Leo J. Sergeant
Tally 1344973 John William
Theodore 62769 Nick
Tony 546067 John Corporal
Thompson 1425380 Alfred T.
Underwood 1591820 John S.
Wardo 547941 Phillip
This particular group of buildings were called the La Marche Annex and adjoined the Caserne La Marche.
The buildings consisted of four stone and concrete wards, a small building suitable for administration and officers quarters, two small kitchens and a large Basseneau [sic.] tent.
The four ward buildings could easily accommodate 1000 patients but owing to the lack of beds, supplies etc. we were prepared for only 850 patients.
The buildings were divided into small rooms that accommodated about 15 patients without crowding.
These rooms were well ventilated and well lighted. The possibilities of isolation were excellent. The corridors and stair ways were spacious.
Excellent as they were in many respects yet on the other hand they presented many obstacles. There was water in but one room in each building and that was on the ground floor.
There was no place for the preparation and serving of food. Not even a place to prepare liquid food or to heat water.
There were no toilets in the buildings. In short it was a place for normal persons or at best convalescents.
All of these difficulties had to be overcome in so far as possible.
The Administration building was amply large for offices and for quartering the officers – inasmuch as we had but three.
The kitchens, two in number, were equipped with French ranges. One of the two were broken and it was not until Sept. 15 that it was repaired and then only when we took the broken part to Toul and had it repaired at our own expense.
These ranges were constructed for the evident purpose of making soups and stews. It was impossible to roast or broil in any quantity.
We had a good deal of difficulty in getting the proper kinds and the proper amounts of food for ourselves and for our enlisted men. There was an American range at the quartermasters but Col. Maddux would not give this to us until the very latter part of September. The distance between the kitchens and the wards was so great that it was practically impossilble for us to serve hot food to the men. Liquids transported in bulk kept hot but with other foods we were helpless.
Fortunately for our patients they were only allowed liquid foods except in a very few cases.
The Bessaneau [sic.] tent served as our receiving ward and was large enough for us to later keep the very sick patients in the tent where we could care for them and still keep on with the admissions. Had it not been for this there would not have been time for us to see them after they had been sent to the wards.
There was only one small laundry, operated by hand that could do a very limited amount of work. The most of the laundry was sent to a large laundry in Nancy.
Our water came from two sources, one from wells located on the area of the Caserne Fabvier and the other from a tank located on the area of the Caserne LaMarche that adjoined our area. This latter supply came from the Moselle River, after passing through filters. Base Hospital 45 was located on the area of the Caserne LaMarche and we found that they could shut off this supply at their pleasure, and a pleasure that they never lost an opportunity to enjoy.
We had all of our troubles with this hospital and solely because Stuart MaGuire, the Commanding Officer, was a former instructor of Col. Maddux and he gave they everything they wanted. The supply was inadequate.
The sewer system consisted of a series of drain pipes that received through catch basins the rain water, liquids from the kitchens, and baths.
The toilet facilities were anything but American.
They consisted of a series of side wall buildings of the squart [sic.] type. To be specific one side stood on some slight elevations not unlike the foot rests on a shoe shining stand, in order to keep the feet out of objectionable matter, which, if the aim was accurate went through a hole about 10 inches in diameter into a galvanized iron can.
French civilian contractors came around at most irregular intervals and emptied these cans. I say irregular because they were so irregular that the cans frequently overflowed.
The most remarkable thing about this however was the thing that I repeatedly saw and the only thing in France that really turned my stomach.
These men would take the cans, dump them into their wagon and then take their bare hand and wipe out the can. After this they would wipe their hands on a towel that was attached to the wagon much as our street fish vendor carries a towel, then take out a pipe and light it after filling it and smoke with the greatest of gusto.
This one thing perhaps made me disgusted with the French although there were many things of a similar nature that would make it impossible for an American to ever understand the French.
The most serious problem we had to contend with was the problem of supplies & as a matter of fact the Red Cross had many things at Toul the Army did not have.
More than this the army would not let us take advantage of this supply because they were not big enough to admit their own shortcomings. They preferred to go without instead of accepting what was within reach. Once more had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Hayward the Gas Hospital would never have existed and my work in France would have been very doubtful.
There were two kitchens, each equipped with a French range. Most of the cooking had to be done on top of the range, consequently they were suitable for practically nothing but soups and stews, etc. Unfortunately one of these was broken and could not be used.
Fortunately gas cases were put on liquid diets so that our chief difficultly would be in feeding our own enlisted force.
These kitchens were situated at a distance from the wards so that it would be practically impossible to get the food to the wards while it was hot.
The whole place was lighted with electricity and the service was good.
From MS-397, Box 1, Folder 10. To read the diary in its entirety, visit Rauner Special Collections Library and ask to see the Harry Goodall papers (MS-397).