Sunday, February 3, 2008

Serving with the French Army, 1917 - 1919

Rex R Forsyth, from Bloomington, Indiana, volunteered with a group of other Hoosiers who were mustered into the Army, and did their training in Allentown, Pa. This is where he learned to drive the Ford Model T vehicles. The training took place at the Fairgrounds in Allentown.

Upon deployment, his unit was attached to the French Army. He wore a US Army uniform, but wore a French Army helmet, and was issued other items from the French. Rex kept a daily diary, in which he recorded all of the areas in which his unit was stationed. This diary, containing concise and detailed accounts, does not graphically describe the horrors of the war, but mainly recounts where they were, when, and details of the life of the unit behind the lines. Underlying these words, however, one can sense the horrors that he witnessed.

In the photograph you see some of the items that Rex carried. Note the helmet issued by the French. The red cross arm band is stamped from the French quartemaster corps, as well. His dog tags are the small round dics, lower right, resting on a song book of US military songs. The folding knife was used to cut bread, often dipped into coffee poured into the drinking cup also shown. The khaki cloth with Rex's name inked is his "housewife", used by soldiers for decades to hold their sewing kits, small personal items, and pens or pencils. Under the small bible you can see his straight razor and metal shaving mirror.

This photo shows his diary, a snapshot of him next to his Model T Ford ambulance, and his French Quoix de Guerre, or Cross of War, of which he and some of his fellow Unit members were awarded for bravery while crossing a field under heavy artillery fire while picking up wounded.

Please click on the photos to open them in a seperate window for detailed viewing.

More stories and additional photographs will follow in other posts.


TC said...

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Exile's Return said...


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