American Field Service Hat Badge

American Field Service Hat Badge

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Want to learn more about the experience of what it was like to be a volunteer ambulance driver or camion driver during World War I? 

Many books were published during the War about the experiences of the drivers.  Above is a small selection of some contemporary works by drivers.  These are easy to find and also exist in digital versions.  Friends of France is a good place to start.  Published in 1916 to raise funds and awareness of the AFS, many later drivers such as Harry Crosby read this book.

Let us not forget the reason for the existance of the American Field Service.  A. Piatt Andrew became Inspector General of the American Ambulance Field Service in the Spring of 1915.  Through Andrew's prewar connections, his brilliant organizational skills, and his unrelenting desire to aid the French war effort Andrew turned a small jitney ambulance service of the American Hospital of Paris into a organization of thirty-two ambulance sections serving frontline French units and five transportation units supplying war materials where needed.  When the American Field Service units were turned over to the US Army in the Fall of 1917 over two thousand five hundred men had served with the AFS. 

Pictured is a copy of A. Piatt Andrew's book Letters Written Home From France In The First Half of 1915.  The book was limited to two hundred fifty copies.  The photo is one presented by Andrew to his parents.  The award document is for the Legion of Honor.  This is Andrew's second award raising him to Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1927.

See for more about APA and his house, "Red Roof," in Gloucester Mass.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

After Harry Crosby's death in 1929 Harry's mother Henrietta, with the aid of Caresse published War Letters in 1931.  The book was published in a unnumbered edition of 125 copies.  War  Letters consists of letters written home by Harry to his family from the Summer of 1917 until his return from France in 1919.

Harry's mother presented copies of the book to as many of his ambulance service comrades as possible.  The above photo offers a glimpse of the book as well as two letters, each presenting the book to one of Harry's friends--Philip Shepley and Way "Spud" Spaulding.  Shepley and Spaulding were members of the AFS unit SSU 71 which became, after the US Army took over in the Fall of 1917, SSU 641.  Both figure prominatly in the book.

Also shown in the photograph is a American Field Service hat badge and a American Field Service medal.