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..."In France where there is a German graveyard adjoining a French burying ground. In the French cemetery is a cross, and in the German, a cannon. This .... shows plainly the ideals for which the two armies stood. 'On the one side the cannon and might, on the other the cross and right; on one side, lust, and the other, sacrifice. On the one, God, and the other, His enemy.'"

                                                                            Percy D. Atkins


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Madison County During World War I


War News


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Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 29, 1917

United Press, Washington, Sept. 29 - Not a young girl in Belgium above 17 has escaped misuse by German authorities, according to Vander Noot de Moorsel, in a report to the Red Cross today. "No one can imagine the sufferings of the Belgian people," said the Belgian nobleman. "The people are deprived of everything. They live from hand to mouth. They watch week by week for American relief ship supplies. They kneel to the stars and stripes and pray to it as they would to the flag of a church."





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 5, 1918

All of the Alton boys who are at Camp Pike, Ark., with the exception of Lieutenant F. M. Kane, have been kept in quarantine for several weeks because the German measles rambled in there and spotted a few of Co. F all up. Occasionally there would be a new victim, and that prolonged the quarantine. Now just as they saw release and were told the quarantine would be lifted January 8, two more cases of measles and a couple of cases of mumps broke out and quarantine regulations will be enforced until January 20. Abe Rubenstein sends word that he expects to get out of quarantine "when I get out next summer," and he is probably right about it.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 13, 1918

Thomas Curtin of New York City, a well known newspaper correspondent on the European battlefields, lectured at noon today at the Western Cartridge plant to several thousand employees of the plant and citizens of East Alton, who gathered around to hear the lecture. Curtin represented the New York Sun and the Boston Globe as a war correspondent on the fighting front, and gave an interesting account of actual scenes witnessed on the battlefield, to many of which he was an eye witness. Curtin was introduced by John Olin, assistant manager of the Western Cartridge Co. plant.  Olin said in his remarks that the United States was planning to put out 300,000 machine guns, which would use 76,000,000,000 cartridges within sixteen hours. He said that the eight millimeter cartridges now manufactured at the cartridge plant were for French machine guns now being used by the American soldiers. He said the Western Cartridge plant was a month behind in its orders, and urged the employees to do their best to make up for lost time. He congratulated them on having done much to hurry up the work within the past week. Two weeks ago he said the daily output was 500,000 shells a day, last week it was 850,000, and this week he hoped that the mark could be pushed up to the maximum output, which is 1,000,000 shells a day. Thomas Curtin, correspondent of London and New York papers, spoke to the employees of the Western Cartridge Co. this noon and he gave an excellent idea of the hell over in the battlefields. Curtin was with the German army when war started, later was with the Belgians when that country was invaded, then went over to the Italian front, was with the Austro-Hungarian army and spent some time at Verdun on the western front. He told of the havoc wrought, of the cruelty of the German soldiers everywhere as a result of the German system. He told of one instance where an old Belgian woman dropped on her knees to a Hun soldier, and how the heartless Hun raised his saber and cut off her arms. Curtin asked him why he did it, and the soldier's reply was, "She is an enemy to my country." Curtin says that is the German system through and through and through, and that it is only a matter of geography that we are not being despoiled by the Germans instead of the French and the Belgians and the Italians and English. Curtin is a wit, he is full of pep. He believes it because he saw it himself, and he implored the workers to stick to their work and make shells as this is, he says, the chief cause of the Allies' defeats when they have lost. Curtain goes to the mat with the German question and the war, and wallops the Kaiser good. He was introduced by John Olin.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 21, 1918

Allen Albert, a man who has slept in the camp with the boys, marched over roads with them and knows them, sums up this great army of three million young American boys, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, rich, poor, ignorant and intellectual, and says this great army of Americans is the cleanest, most sinless company of nonsaints in the world. Mr. Albert was talking for the United War Work fund, and he recited story after story that brought tears to your eyes about the humanity, the wholesomeness, the naturalness and the goodness of this great army of American boys. He told how in the United States near the cantonment camps they have opened up the good and closed the bad; how they have built up a clean atmosphere and thrown light upon the unclean and banished it; how the leadership of the army that was in the past that of the braggart and the bully, the booze fighter and the man who taught in many instances the vices instead of the better teachings, was today supplanted by new leaders; leaders from the ranks of these new soldiers, who play with clean sports, who meet at great camp religious meetings, who spurn the saloon and the redlight district as a matter of their own wishes and live, not as saints, not as what some may please to term the sissy boy and goody boy, but the clean, upright boy; able to withstand temptation if it does happen to cross his path. Mr. Albert bristles with good stories of the camp. He tells of the good work that all of the various war work bodies are doing, and says that when you go to camp you love them all. He says that when the boys come in for play that they fill up the first hut they come to. Protestant and Catholic and Jew alike, and woes unto him who would try and separate them because of creed. They love each other because they are men, brothers. Mr. Albert told the hearers that this was the work they were giving their money to, and that this drive must be followed by other drives, because our boys, many of them, will be over there for another eighteen months or longer. He believes that our great properties over there will cause a long stay, and he cited that with the English transports withdrawn, that not over 70,000 per month can be brought back, and that transportation alone will cause delay in the boys returning. Mr. Albert was warmly thanked for his most interesting human interest portrayal of Sammy in the great camps. W. C. Gates introduced the speaker and thanked, warmly, all the workers who ar eputting their shoulder to the wheel in the big campaign. Rev. F. L. Butler led the singing of the patriotic songs.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 21, 1919

UP - Brest, Feb. 21 - The mothers of American waiting for their boys to come home, may rest assured Brest is not a pesthole, notwithstanding reports to the contrary. This assertion is based on official figures showing the death rate to be lower than in other camps, and by personal investigation. A trainload of soldiers arriving here finds Red Cross nurses waiting for them on the platform to serve hot chocolate in the day time. In the night they are given a big supper at a camp kitchen. The tents are floored, have stoves, and equipped with bunks. They hold six men. When given their choice, many newcomers prefer tents to the barracks. There is no question of their warmth. The correspondent visited several of the coldest tents and found them not uncomfortable. This describes the conditions the average trainloads of soldiers find when arrived. Sometimes when transports are delayed there is overcrowding, and it is necessary to use the unfloored tents, but they are warm and comfortable.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 1, 1919

Poisonous gases are produced by some explosives which have been commonly used in warfare. They are the products of the explosion. The direct use of poison gases, however, was specifically inhibited by The Hague convention. They were used deliberately for the first time on April 22, 1915, on part of the Ypres sulient. A poison gas cloud (chlorine) was there launched by the Germans against the French and British, where they joined, the Turcos and Canadians receiving the brunt. Frustrated in the quick accomplishment of their aims, the Germans again threw all honor aside, as they had done in Belgium, and used poison gases. In this way they proposed to end the war quickly. The immediately bitter purpose was to kill and affect the morale of the colonials. Written and spoken narratives of the effect of that great greenish-yellow cloud on the minds of those soldiers, as it rose right out of the ground, rolled toward and enveloped them, the first whiffs choking, then producing spasms of agony, are thrillingly terrible. Many died a horrible death; many who raced away ahead of the weird waves got sufficient of the gas to affect their health seriously. The morale was not broken, however, and the war was not soon over. If the Germans had done the vicious thing more thoroughly, the war might have been over long ago.  - American Review of Reviews.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 6, 1919

Percy D. Atkins, formerly a divisional Y.M.C.A. secretary who served in France with the Rainbow Division, was the speaker today at the Board of Trade luncheon at the Mineral Springs Hotel. He praised highly the spirit of the American soldier and the desire of the people and officials of France to provide comforts for the soldiers. He said in the course of his address that there are two things yet to be done in connection with the war, punishment for those who caused the war, and taking away from conscientious objectors their naturalization rights. Atkins speech, while at times dealing with the hardships and crimes of war, witnessed first hand, was filled with humorous incidents. In his detachment of the Rainbow Division, 80 percent of the men were Irishmen, and humorous sayings of Irishmen while under fire were given. One Irishman who had a finger badly injured asked the medical corps lieutenant if he would be able to play the piano after his finger had been cared for by the doctor. He was assured he would be, and explained with joy: "I'm glad, because I never could play before." In the dugout of one group of Irishmen was a sign reading: "Don't wash in the water we sleep in." Another Irishman, in answer to a question from Atkins as to how he liked his "diggings," said he liked it fine because it was the first time "he ever had a room with private bath." Atkins highly praised the spirit of the American soldier which he contracted with that of the European soldiers. The Americans of the Rainbow Division, on being assigned a part of the line which had been designated the "rest" sector, were mad because they came to fight, they said, not to rest. "We don't intend to rest until we get back to the states." Atkins replied to the criticisms of the army and its work. He said the charge of Governor Allen of Kansas is doubtless true, for knowing the governor, he does not think he would willfully lie, but, Atkins declared, the Argonne Forest had been flooded three times, and there was but one road through it and the American soldiers were running a mile race with the Germans, and it was impossible to keep up artillery with those men. The American army was the only one which had set foot on German soil at the time the Armistice was signed. The Americans held the three parts of the line which were thought by European leaders to be free from attack. It was thought that no army could attack and gain through San Mihiel, Balleau Wood and the Argonne Forest. But the Americans attacked and went through every one of them. He described securing the chapel of Napoleon, which had been refused even French troops. In this chapel was Murillo's Madonna, with the Emperor's signature on the canvas. This was turned into a recreation hall for American troops. He concluded his address by describing a spot in France where there is a German graveyard adjoining a French burying ground. In the French cemetery is a cross, and in the German, a cannon. This, Atkins declared, shows plainly the ideals for which the two armies stood. "On the one side the cannon and might, on the other the cross and right; on one side lust, and the other sacrifice. On the one God, and the other His enemy."





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 27, 1919

Several months ago Master John Reeder, son of Mr. and Mrs. Perley L. Reeder of this city, conceived the idea of writing to England to learn of the children's ideas of the war. He has been reading about the war and was intensely interested in what was going on. Among his readings, John found the name of Sir Harry Brittain [Note: actual name was Sir Henry Ernest Brittain, Order of the British Empire, and was a British journalist and Conservative politician], a prominent Englishman and author, and wrote to him. Sir Brittain answered the letter, but failed to give information as he could not understand what the 11 year old Alton boy wished to know. John wrote the second time, and Sir Brittain turned the letter over to his ten year old son, Robert, who wrote a letter in reply. John Reeder is a student of the Washington School of which Miss Harriet McCarthy is principal. The following letter was the one written by the little English boy following the signing of the Armistice:


"2 Cowley Street, Westminster, London, S.W.I., Friday 28, 1919.  Dear John Reeder:  My father, Sir Harry Brittain, gave me to read the letter you sent him. I am just ten years old. I am not going to school till autumn, having a governess at home. I have written to some boys asking them to write to you. We are waiting with anxiety for peace day to come. What were you doing on Armistice day? We were in our school room doing lessons, when suddenly the maroons went off. Our first movements were for the basements, as we always had to do in air raids. It is so nice now to speak of air raids as a thing of the past. For I can tell you it was not very nice to be turned out of bed in the middle of the night, and half dressed have to run for shelter. I shall be able to tell you about some of the air raid experiences we went through, but this will be for the next letter. Well, as I said, on Armistice day, after the alarm, we went to the basements, but not for long, for about five minutes later the all-clear was sounded all over London. Then, well, I am sure I don't know what I did, like everybody else, I felt mad. Then we put the English and American flags out; after which we all together went out in front of the Palace to hear the King. There was a tremendous crowd. People were driving on the top of motor cars and taxis, not inside, big motor lorries came packed all over with people. Everybody had some sort of flag. A band was playing all kinds of hymns and anthems. The shouts when the King and Queen came out made you feel deaf, and in the evening the greatest excitement was washing off of the paints of the laps. It was so funny to see London in lights again after four years of darkness. This was a wonderful day, and I shall never forget it as long as I live. Last month my father gave a party at the American Officers Club. It was so that American officers should meet English officers. Admiral Sims and General Biddle were there. The American Naval Band played for us. I am very sorry to hear that the influenza is raging in U.S.A. too. I told you about Armistice day, but I forgot to tell lyou that in the crowd we caught the influenza. I got it first, then my governess, then my sister, my mother, my father, all the maids, except the cook. A fine sort of hospital our home was. Well, I hope to hear from you soon. Perhaps I shall be able to tell some of our air raid experiences as I said before, and some of the things my father saw in France. Perhaps you have read his book, "To Verdun From the Somme."  It was published in America two years ago. With kind regards, Yours, Robert Brittain."




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