Mail Tribune 100, March 8, 1919 Continued


    News from 100 years ago

    The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.

    March 8, 1919, continued

    DORSEY WRITES OF LAST AWFUL NIGHT OF WAR

    Captain Geoffrey Dorsey, signal officer with the marines, nephew of Mrs. L. F. Belknap of Central Point, writes as follows from France concerning the war and its end:

    You will want to know how I spent the last few hours of the war. I was at the O. P. under the worst shellfire I was ever in. Our marines were going across the Meuse and the Germans were retaliating with a murderous barrage. Our batteries, in a swamp, were soon mired so that they could not fire, so for hours the German artillery had it all their way. The barrage lasted all night and when my relief came at 9, I began to repair the line. They were still shelling at 10:30 when a marine courier told me he was to inform his company to cease firing at 11. I didn’t even tape my last splice, just on my horse and raced for the battery. I arrived just before 11 — their shells were still coming over but ours had stopped for over an hour. They didn’t stop till they had to.

    I tried to tell of all I had seen, to put the efforts and accomplishments of lives into a few words, to abridge a bible. I tried to write a cold chronological review of the travail of thousands. What do dates and names of places mean now? It is not the time or place that men honor; it is the deeds and lives that made those dates and places honorable. Chateau Thierry, Soissons, Argonne, the first of June and the 11th of November, what would they have meant to us, those names men dream with, had it not been for the grim striving of thousands?

    Why tell that I was here or there at this certain time, that I saw such and such, did this and so? Would you scrutinize the candle and let the glory of the sunrise be unseen? Friends, enjoying the calm and peace of a summer morning, were blasted into eternity. Men went mad, and mad, were saner than the sane. Men were afraid, and fearing, were the braver. Men died, and dying, gained eternal life. Historians will record the dates and places, it is only for us who lived to remember, and to forget.

    We will remember the rest by the roadside and the French lady who filled our canteens with water, and us with good Normandy apples and cider. The long lines of haggard refugees, their homes on their backs, fleeing from the conquering horde. We will forget the boiling sun, the interminable white road, the dirt and grime and sweat, the hunger and thirst and exhaustion.

    We will remember the advance on the trot, the snapping 75’s beside the road, the plunging horses and shouting men; the roaring of our guns, the screaming of the baffled shell. We will forget the tired bodies, the shells to be carried and wire to be strung, the sleepless nights followed by sleepless days, and the unending work, work, work.

    We will try to forget, yet trying, remember the more, that night before peace. Our guns mired and nearly useless; the crews sweating and swearing, crying with futile rage as that last murderous barrage came over. The Meuse was crossed and the hill taken, but at a terrific cost. The waters echoed up the rippling sound of the machine guns, the woods shuddered at the choked gasp of the dying, the wolf-like howl of the insane. Flashing shells hurried death in its blackest form among the boys to whom peace had seemed so near. A grey morning slunk over the hilltops, loath to reveal the works of night. The rumblings and thunders of guns stopped, a strange quiet, fell softly, broken by no rending crash of shell. A tress sighed sadly as its broken trunk gave way, a wail from a wounded man, a faint cheer in the valley beneath. Peace had come. That night we will try to forget.

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