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Croix de Guerre

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  1. Truly an amazing group of artifacts but also it raises many questions. Please don't infer my questions as doubting the validity of the group, but they are simply my efforts to decipher the clues presented before me. These questions are not indictments, I'm just ticking off puzzling clues. I exclusively collect AFS and American Ambulance material, which doesn't in any way make e an expert but I have been studying these men for fairly long period of time. What I do know is William Lawrence Clark is an omit from the final roster of the American Field Service. Meaning that he was left off the final roll. That doesn't mean an immediate disqualification as some mistakes were made or some unknown transgressions were possible committed by the volunteer. Likewise I cannot find his name listed in any AFS Bulletin or reunion which again doesn't mean much. The collection of artifacts are very interesting. It appears that his first service and possibly only was with the "Paris Squad" which was the name given to the squad of ambulances assigned to the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris which was located in the Lycée Pasteur building in Neuilly-sur-Siene. By the middle of 1916 there was a break in the relationship between the director of the American Field Service, A. Piatt Andrew and the Transportation Committee of the American Ambulance Hospital. The pink card is his French drivers license one of the first of many documents he would've been required to get in order to operate a motor vehicle in France. The little book to me is one of the coolest items in the ambulance material. as it is his "pick-up" booklet, that he would've used to document the wounded he picked up at the Paris train station at La Chappel and the destination hospital that he was directed to take his blessés or wounded. He would place the carbon paper in-between, write the appropriate information and then when he arrived at whatever hospital he was assigned to, he would then tear out the top copy, leaving his carbon record in his booklet. The tag marked "American Ambulance Neuilly Paris France" is very interesting. I've never seen on before and my best educated guess is that is was a luggage tag that was attached to his suitcase or steamer trunk when he loaded all his gear aboard ship to go back home. The small pin with the "six months" service bar is his American Ambulance Service medal, which was awarded by the hospital and not by the AFS. The "winged badge" as you probably know was his drivers cap badge. This style of badge was worn by both the Paris Squad and the AFS men at the same time but was fazed out of use by the AFS in late 1916, 1917. The cloth flaming bomb patch is a collar device, issued by the French government's Automobile Service. The "A" stood for "Automobile" rather than ambulance. By 1916, the French Automobile service has assumed nominal control over all of the volunteer ambulance units, including the Paris Squad. Now the other insignia starts to get puzzling. He has a discharge letter complementing him on his service and signed in October 1916 by A.W. Kipling "Captain of Ambulances" from the American Ambulance Hospital. This means he was employed by the American Ambulance until October 1916. It had to have been at this point that he went over a signed up with the American Field Service but based upon other evidence he would not have had anytime to volunteer with them. By October 1916 they were an entirely separate service, with the own headquarters at 21 Rue Raynuard, Paris. But again, no record of him ever joining up. Passenger records from the SS Lafayette have him arriving back in the US on October 16, 1916 so that rules out any actually "field service" with the AFS. However, he did receive his AFS Service Medal, signed by Henry Sleeper (A State-Side Representative of the AFS). His medal is engraved 1916. This would've been done either by him or a jeweler post-war as the medal were not issued until the early 1920's and were not engraved. One possible explanation is that he volunteered with the American Field Service, but once in Paris, for whatever reason he never went out into "The Field" and did his volunteer period with the Paris Squad but got credit for joining the American Field Service at first. There is a passport issued to him in February of 1916, but unlike most there is no mention of his intention to volunteer with any ambulance or relief work which is what you normally see, so that rules that out. He traveled with his mom and dad and did go to Paris prior to March 1916, so he may have volunteered once he got to Paris and saw the work they were doing. I still can't figure out why he has all the US Army ambulance stuff. He never served with them. Then he has all of that US Army Ambulance Service material,,shoulder patches from post-Armistice 1919, a service medal from the US Army Ambulance service association which was only for men that had served in the USAAS,,not the AFS. His USMC records had him at Paris Island in December 1917. He seems to have spent the entire was a Marine and had no time whatsoever driving an ambulance for the US Army Ambulance Service. In that great picture, you can see his is wearing his American Ambulance pin on his Marine uniform! Most of the former AFS guys that enlisted in the US Army as ambulance drivers did so in the field. US Army recruiters actually drove out to their French camps and signed them up. One day your driving an ambulance for the French as a member of the American Field Service, the nest day you are driving an ambulance for the French as a member of the US Army Ambulance Corps. It is a very cool, interesting and puzzling group of artifacts. (By the way, I used to own a postcard sized photo of him a few years ago but it was unidentified.)
  2. Thanks for your kind words and enthusiasm David! I'm on the verge of getting my first book published and hopefully my publisher will be interested in this project as well. Sincerely, Tom
  3. Two old ambulanciers, Waldo Peirce and Jon Dos Passos. Photo taken at Key West while both were visiting with Ernest Hemingway.
  4. Still working on it. Hope to have it wrapped by the summer.
  5. Hi Kanemono, Your excellent images have me a bit puzzled. I checked the AFS rosters and I cannot find anyone named William Clark that served in the AFS in 1916 that matches up with your man. I studied the photo of him in his ambulance drivers uniform and then looked closely at the "AFS badge" he is wearing on his Marine uniform. The badge he is wearing on his Marine uniform is a service badge given out by the American Hospital in Paris. This decoration is not usually associated with American Field Service volunteers because by 1916 the Hospital and the American Field Service had severed their relationship. The AFS began as an off-shoot from volunteer ambulance drivers that served at the American Hospital in Paris and later at the American Ambulance in Neuilly. To make a long and complicated story short; the American Hospital began to put into service ambulance sections "in the field". These sections were directed by a man named A. Piatt Andrew. Under Andrew's leadership and political influence these "field sections" expanded and grew, eventually leading to a dispute between Hospital staff and Andrew. This dispute culminated in the American Ambulance Field Service breaking away from the American Hospital and being renamed the "American Field Service". Back in Paris however, the American Hospital still had sections of ambulances and drivers that continued to transport wounded from the railheads in Paris back to the hospital. This was not the so-called glamorous work of the AFS as they were not driving at night, dodging shells and clouds of poison gas near the front lines, but doing the tedious but completely necessary work of transporting wounded in the city. Having said all this, I still could be wrong. Some men that served in the AFS were left off the rosters for a multitude of reasons. You mentioned that there are other items in the group. Perhaps if you could post some additional photos, it might clear things up. Attached is an example of an American Hospital service badge.
  6. Hemingway volunteered for service with the American Red Cross Italian Ambulance service in the late fall of 1917 after being denied enlistment in the US Army because of a defective eye. Throughout the summer of 1917 the American Red Cross actively recruited volunteers in the US and in France for a proposed expanded ambulance service to operate in Italy much in the same fashion as the American Field Service had done in France. Note: Hemingway did not EVER serve in the American Field Service. In the fall of 1917 as the US military began to take over the pre-exsisting civilian volunteer ambulance units (The American Field Service and the Norton-Harjes Formations), many former ambulance volunteers found that they were being denied enlistment because they could not meet the Army's physical requirements. Some former ambulance men were devote pacifists and would not serve in the US military no matter what the reason. It was from this nucleus of former ambulance men and new recruits from the states (like Hemingway) that the six American Red Cross in Italy ambulance sections were formed. Hemingway, was assigned to Section IV. Apparently the section that Papa was assigned to was not as busy as he would've liked and so he began to volunteer to go up to the front lines as part of a "canteen service" to delivery candy and cigarettes to the Italian soldiers in the trenches. It was in this capacity that Hemingway was wounded by artillery fire. "There was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red. I tried to breathe but my breath would not come. The ground was torn up and in front of my head there was a splintered beam of wood. In the jolt of my head I heard somebody crying. I heard the machine guns and rifles firing across the river. I tried to move but I could not move... The Italian I had with me had bled all over my coat, and my pants looked like somebody had made currant jelly in them and then punched holes to let the pulp out... I told them in Italian that I wanted to see my legs, though I was afraid to look... So we took off my trousers and the old limbs were still there but they were a mess. They couldn't figure out how I had walked 150 yards with a load with both knees shot through and my right shoe punctured in two big places also over 200 flesh wounds."
  7. Valentine in the uniform of a French Balloon officer. Note the combination of artillery buttons and aviation/balloon insignia on his collar.
  8. Here are some photos of some of the items identified to Valentine that recently turned up. They are; A protrait of Valentine in the uniform of a French Balloon officer, a photo of Vantentine when he was with the American Red Cross in Italy, a second American Field Service Medal, his French WWI Victory Medal, his Italian Unification Medal and his WWI Italian Service Medal.
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