The history of Base Hospital No. 53 started in April, 1918, at Camp Greenleaf, where the enlisted personnel, mostly from Ohio, were assigned to the Unit. Their time at this camp was spent in drilling and fatigue around the Medical Officers' Training Camp. Their pleasantest recollections, at this stage of their career, were those of their inoculations against typhoid and of the task of cleaning out the stables of the former remount station, preparatory to their being used as barracks by the drafted men. As to any knowledge of hospital work---either paper or practical---they were quite uninstructed and, on arrival at Camp Hancock, Georgia, they had much to learn before qualifying as members of the Medical Department.
After the coming of the enlisted men, the commissioned officers, assigned to Base Hospital No. 53, arrived singly and in groups, and as each new one appeared he was sized up by those already there. These officers represented the leisure class at Camp Hancock for they had few duties and consequently had time to keep their puttees highly polished and to make themselves generally attractive. Several of them lived together in a house outside the post, and, sauntering along the corridors at noon, would tell of the fresh fruit and hot rolls they had had for breakfast. The War Department took pity on the hard workers in the camp and ordered the men and officers of Base Hospital No. 53 to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, from which embarkation point they left on July 13th, 1918.
Seven officers with one hundred and seventy-seven enlisted men, one man having deserted from Camp Merritt, boarded the "Karmala" at Brooklyn and the remaining officers were assigned to the S. S. "Baltic," which sailed from New York on July 14th, in the same large convoy to which the "Karmala" belonged. The "Baltic" had a comfortable trip, lasting thirteen days from New York to Liverpool. The trip was lengthened because the recent sinking of the "Justicia" by a submarine off the coast of Ireland made the following of a very devious indirect course seem advisable. They reached Liverpool on July 27th, and, remained on board that night, entraining early the next morning for Southampton where they went to the First American Rest Camp for two days. Then they crossed the Channel on the S. S. "Duchess of Argyle," landing at Cherbourg the following morning. At the English Rest Camp at Tourlaville, a suburb of Cherbourg, they received their orders to entrain for their permanent station at Langres, Department Haute-Marne.
On August third these officers arrived at Langres---four days ahead of the men who had sailed on the "Karmala" for they had not been so fortunate as to their ship and passage. This ship had been forced to put in at Halifax on the third day out, whether the trouble was due to the conduct of the stokers or to a weakness of the engine is a disputed point. Whatever the reason, the "Karmala" went into Halifax Harbor and remained there for three days when she started out in a second convoy on July 21st.
According to the imagination of the person to whom one is talking the story of their submarine encounter varies. The unimaginatively accurate tells you that there was a submarine scare two days before reaching Liverpool, at which time tile S. S. "Saxonia," directly ahead of the "Karmala," is reported, unofficially, to have sunk an enemy boat. The man who enjoys the idea of having had some excitement cheerfully, if not correctly, states with conviction that the "Saxonia" was fired upon, the shot just missing the stern and that she replied by sinking the submarine---a feat which was officially acknowledged later.
The "Karmala" docked at Liverpool on July 29th, and the men of Base Hospital 53 were sent to a Rest Camp at Knotty Ash for the night. From Southampton they crossed the Channel to Cherbourg where the entire work of unloading was given to the enlisted personnel. They worked in the pouring rain, without food to sustain them, carrying baggage and hospital equipment belonging to other units which had marched off without doing their share of unloading.
On the afternoon of the 7th of August, the men of the Detachment arrived at their station on the low plain to the east of the town of Langres, where they found plenty of work to be done in finishing the buildings, policing the grounds and unpacking the equipment.
While the men were getting things into shape there the nurses were being sent to New York from all over the United States to be equipped and sent over to the Unit at the first possible moment. About fourteen Army Hospitals, throughout the country, were represented by the nurses who came from Camp Lewis, the Presidio, Fort Riley, Camp Cody, Camp McArthur, Camp Hancock and General Hospital No. 1. Their hours were filled from dawn till dark with standing in line in alphabetical order for everything from money to throat examinations. They shopped feverishly during odd moments, thinking how much there was yet to be done while they stood in line. They sang conscientiously and tried to drill and cheer with equal success in both endeavours.
At last the blanket rolls were strapped for the last time and removed to the hall of the hotel. Furtive telephone messages were sent to the effect that dinner or theatre engagements possibly might not be kept and with bulging bags and frayed tempers the nurses embarked on the "Aquitania" early on the morning of September 1st.
The boat did not sail until the next day, but before she had left the dock enough rules had been made for the guidance of the nurses and officers aboard to last a lifetime. Where they might and might not go, when and with whom they might sing and dance, furnished topics for heated arguments and aroused much indignation which was not lessened by the daily dose of lukewarm sago pudding at luncheon.
Boat drills were an oft repeated torture to those afflicted with seasickness. Standing on that rolling deck with that nauseating, undulating sky-line in front of rows of grinning soldiers really was one of the horrors of the war.
On reaching Southampton after a very quiet, uneventful voyage the nurses stayed on board for two days waiting for a channel boat. The Unit was divided into three sections crossing on three British Hospital ships on which they were treated like guests on a yacht.
One night was spent at Le Havre and then the travellers were introduced to new experiences---travelling on rations and spending the night on a French train. On reaching Paris, they rode through the streets in trucks, standing with their feet in gasoline cans or on the loaves of bread intended for future consumption. They felt that the City Street Cleaning Department should have given them a token of their appreciation for the amount of filth removed on the above mentioned bread with which the sidewalks and station platforms were thoroughly mopped. However, without any token of gratitude from the officials or the populace, they left Paris on Sunday morning the 15th of September and reached Langres that afternoon. The nurses of Base Hospital No. 55 and the officers and men were there to welcome the newcomers and were very cordial in spite of being extremely busy as the first patients were expected that night. Rooms were assigned, bread and jam eaten and the nurses went to bed (in spite of the glorious moonlight) in order to be able to be on the job at seven the next morning to relieve the nurses of Base Hospital No. 55, who had been put on night duty.
The patients arrived about four o'clock in the morning and the task of getting the hospital machinery running began in earnest. The Corps men carried litters and drove ambulances and then, after the patients had been arranged for, they went on the wards as orderlies to work hour after hour without sleep.
Few of the sick men appreciated how hard the enlisted men were working during the busy time at the hospitals. They were usually ungrudging in their praise of nurses but seldom spoke of the Corps men's work with any realization that it amounted to much. The fact that there is so little recognition of this necessary branch of the service in the Army is unfortunate. Many of the men hoped, when they enlisted, to be sent to the front with ambulances or to dressing stations so that they should not be regarded as slackers who had chosen "bullet proof" jobs. Their faithfulness to duty at an unsensational post has been of immeasurable value in the success of the work of the Medical Department in the A. E. F.
These few days of activity in the Hospital will never be forgotten by those who were here. The pleas for thermometers, medicine glasses, plates, etc., etc., the trips to the Medical Supply Depot, the carrying of pails of precious hot water, the washing of towels and sheets in a desire to have something clean in a land of no laundries will always remain a vivid part of the picture.
The mud grew daily deeper under an almost continual downfall of rain, and no one seemed to have any time to do more than throw a few sharp stones in the places where the walks were intended to be. Gradually, as the work became more systematized and the German prisoners, in the nearby prison camp, more numerous, ditches were dug for draining the surface and walks were made so that now the rain hardly bothers us at all.
At first it was almost impossible to get the proper food for the really sick men, eggs and lemons were rarely obtainable and the supply of canned milk inadequate. Canned goods eventually arrived in abundance and recently a reasonable supply of eggs has been available.
A few days after the arrival of the first patients, with influenza and pneumonia as the prevailing diagnoses, a number of the hospital personnel succumbed to these ailments. Two nurses were very dangerously ill with pneumonia---one of them made a rapid recovery, the other one developed empyema and was finally sent home after months of slow convalescing.
Early in October a large convoy of gassed patients came in. New wards in the adjacent hospital were opened by the officers of Evacuation Hospital No. 18, who called on Fifty-three for nurses. The nurses who were sent to those wards will never forget the sights they saw on the morning they reported to duty just after the arrival of these gassed cases. Seventy-five cots were crowded into the wards designed for fifty. There were no pillows or sheets and the men looked utterly forlorn and exhausted, many of them being blind and helpless---their inflamed, swollen eyes showing the inevitable neglect of the journey. The incessant racking coughs were distressing beyond words. The wards were not equipped with even the barest necessities, it being necessary to take dishes from ward to ward for each meal. In these wards practically every man had to have his throat and nose sprayed and liquid petroleum dropped in his eyes---simple treatments in themselves but when multiplied by any number from twenty-five to fifty twice a day they became a considerable part of the day's work. Many of the gassed patients developed pneumonia which, with discouragingly few exceptions, proved fatal.
The personnel of Evacuation Hospital No. 18 left about the middle of October and their place was taken by that of Base Hospital No. 88. This latter organization, likewise, had no nurses of its own so that Fifty-three nurses were working again in both hospitals. There were five nurses at Base Hospital No. 59 at Issoudun and ten others with Evacuation Hospital No. 10, reducing the nursing staff to eighty-five for the two hospitals.
About the middle of October Base Hospital No. 53 received its first large group of surgical patients. There were many very seriously wounded and the surgical staff, having been drawn upon for an operating team at the front and having sent several officers to the hospital at Bazoilles was greatly depleted and only five surgical officers remained to receive this large convoy, consequently they worked day and night doing innumerable dressings and operating at all hours.
Shortage of blankets, the non-arrival of coal stoves, the lack of oil for the lanterns and small cooking stoves in the wards all combined to make the cold weather in October a very unpleasant experience. The patients lay wakeful and shivering while the night nurses and corps men put on all available sweaters, leather jerkins and ulsters and tried hard to work with frost bitten fingers or sat by candle light thinking of all that might be done for the patients in the way of hot drinks, hot water bottles, etc., if only there were oil for the stoves.
When the stoves were put in and finally supplied with enough pipe and coal our outlook on life grew perceptibly brighter. Water could be heated more quickly and in larger quantities and making toast became a favorite indoor sport for the patients.
Many nurses, feeling the need of recreation, while the work was still very heavy, agitated the question of dances and even after long hard hours of work there were some energetic enough to dance as fast and as long as the band would play---which was never very late. Since we have been able to have the Red Cross Hut reading-room we have had two dances a week. The nurses, at one time, were invited to many dances at the various camps in the vicinity. They sometimes travelled in style in Cadillac touring cars and on other occasions in Dodges and trucks. They had every variety of inebriated and sober driver, some of whom knew the way when drunk and some who did not know the way even when sober. They were often lost on the way but always had such a good time they wanted to go again.
The first week in November there was a change of Commanding Officers. Lt. Col. Sinclair was relieved by Lt. Col. William Lee Hart who came here directly from the Surgeon General's Office.
Like all members of the A. E. F. we imagined that the signing of the armistice was equivalent to giving us our transportation back to the U. S. A. toute de suite. We went up to Langres and watched the French people celebrating, feeling keenly aware of the sad-faced French women dressed in deep mourning in the crowd. The greatness of their loss and sacrifice seemed to be magnified by the joy of those to whom the end of the war meant happy family reunions. The streets were lighted for the first time in over four years and an American band played French music and Americans shouted and sang. It made those of us, who were watching from the ambulances, feel terribly cold and undemonstrative not to be running around kissing every one we met on both cheeks in true French fashion.
About this time rumors of being sent to Nice or Cannes to a big hospital centre were flying around and some of us were sufficiently feeble-minded to believe that there was something in all the talk. We had visions of working in rose gardens and strolling under palm trees in the moonlight but we stuck right here in the mud and have had two base hospitals practically full all the time---for which we should be thankful because the work kept us from developing homesickness in too acute a form and made us appreciate the fact that we were needed until more of the troops had been sent on their way rejoicing.
The "movies" and other entertainments at the Y. M. C. A. and Red Cross Hut have been our principal amusements. People who probably do not show any interest in going to any kind of show from one month's end to the other at home dash over to the Hut as soon as their supper is finished and sit patiently on backless and collapsible chairs, that collapse at most inopportune moments, waiting for the band to play and the show to begin. They add greatly to the excitement by shouting out comments on the performance and performers, which would probably result in their being thrown out of a theatre at home but here we all laugh and think them very witty and often the best part of the entertainment.
Some think that nothing good can be said of the French climate but they are forgetting the glories of the Riviera and how warm and bright the sun is here when we see it and what little wind there has been up to March when we have to expect to be blown around wherever we are.
Early in January the personnel from Base Hospital No. 88 and officers and nurses from other units began to arrive as their organizations were disbanded. Those from Base Hospital No. 66 were the first to come. Later others from Unit "I." Base Hospital 48 and Base Hospital 56. As the original 53 looked over the new arrivals they formed the valuable opinion that the other units must have been very fine altogether or that we just got the cream sent to us.
On February 9th, Base Hospital No. 53, finally, with fitting ceremonies, rose to the belated dignity of a flag pole-obtained from the departing Engineers. Now we proudly fly the Stars and Stripes and a Hospital flag every day or every rainy day.
There have been three deaths in the Detachment and all since the first of the year. Private Martin and Private Rhingold died of pneumonia and Sergeant Cook died as the result of injuries. Deaths not incident to the war seem sadder in many respects to those at home. The feeling that something might have been left undone that would have been done by a devoted family often gives the mourners a tinge of bitterness in their sorrow. We can assure these bereaved relatives that all that we, as doctors, nurses and friends in the Detachment could do was done for these comrades.
Our most public appearance was on Sunday, the ninth of March, when the Mayor of Langres, with the Municipal Council, came to the Red Cross Hut and solemnly granted the privilege of wearing the Coat-of-Arms of the town to us as the insignia of our Unit, in recognition of our services. We all have copies of the speech and have ordered two or three insignia, each to be embroidered. Unfortunately we have been refused permission to wear this Coat-of-Arms by G. H. Q. We are, therefore, all mildly wondering what we can do with them. They are too pretty and expensive to treat as negligible souvenirs.
We have not been a model Unit. We have had our rows. We have talked our heads off around the stoves in our barracks, criticising, rebelling, judging, but, on the whole, we feel that we have not done such a bad job and as though we bad done the work for which we came over. If we sound narrow-minded and unpatriotic, at times, it is because homesickness has become a chronic state of mind and anything or anybody that stands between us and our getting home seems monstrously unreasonable and unjust. We feel sure that in the years to come we can look back on our days with Fifty-three with more pride and satisfaction than we, at present, feel while we are tired and cross. We can smile indulgently at the memory of goldfish, beans and onions and hope we won't have to eat them in the next war or the next world.
On October the 13th, Major Bell, Capt. Heine (then a Lieutenant), Lieutenant Glascock, Miss Kindt and Corporal Erickson left for Souilly. Everybody envied them their prospect of getting near the front as Surgical Team No. 136. Miss Kindt was left with Evacuation Hospital No. 6 while the others went up to join Mobile Unit No. 6, which was reported near Apremont. Two days were spent in locating the outfit which arrived on October 16th, and built their camp on a high hill near the road connecting the villages of Cheppy and Varennes.
That same afternoon patients began to arrive even before the equipment was all unpacked. They were men who were too seriously wounded to be taken any further to the rear. In most instances operative procedure was out of the question, energetic treatment in the shock ward being resorted to. The great majority, not responding to treatment, died shortly after, making the death rate very high at this time in the activities of Mobile Hospital No. 6.
After two days of hard work the Unit was prepared for any emergency. There were all necessary instruments, a good X-Ray machine and an excellent operating room. The bassonean tents each accommodated about twenty-five patients, the total capacity of the hospital being about two hundred patients. There were twenty nurses attached to the Unit.
On October 22nd and 23rd the neighboring villages were bombed twice, the second day the bombs fell so close to the tents that the surgeons were well shaken up while operating but no one was injured. The nurses made, from bed sheets, a large white cross on the ground, which was evidently seen and respected by the Boche for there were no more bombs dropped in the vicinity during the following weeks.
Later, as the activity on the front increased, Mobile Unit No. 6 accepted all types of wounded and the hospital was kept full practically all the time. Six surgical teams were busy day and night. The results of the work, at this time, were far more satisfactory because the men were received within a few hours after having been wounded.
On November 1st, 1918, the last big drive began. The barrage started shortly after midnight and the firing continued on into the afternoon. Mobile Unit No. 6 began receiving the wounded at noon and six operating tables were in constant use. Owing to the great number of wounded only those were accepted who were classified as non-transportable and the mortality rate again increased.
The advance of our troops was, at this time, so rapid that Mobile Hospital Number Six was left from twenty to thirty kilometers in the rear. The great congestion of traffic along all roads made the transportation of the wounded a difficult problem and, as a result, many of the wounds were from three to four days old before the patients reached the operating room. Because of this inevitable delay in operation many cases of gas bacillus infection were received. Following the signing of the Armistice the work of this Mobile Unit practically ceased with the exception of an occasional case from a nearby hospital.
Surgical Team No. 136 returned to their former station with Base Hospital No. 53 on November 26th, after six weeks at the front, feeling that they had been fortunate in having such experience in emergency surgery where every hour counted in giving a man a chance.
Hospital Unit "I" was organized in Anderson, Indiana, by Dr. John Bartow Fattic, under the auspices of the American Red Cross during the summer and autumn of 1917. The organization was the standard one of twelve medical officers, including one major, five captains and six lieutenants, twenty-one nurses and forty-eight enlisted men. Miss Lora B. Roser of Wabash, Indiana, was the first Chief Nurse.
The Unit, excepting the nurses, was mobilized at Fort McPherson, Georgia, December 20th, 1917, where it was equipped and trained for eleven weeks. On March 4th, 1918, the organization entrained over the Seaboard Air Line to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, arriving at this camp on Wednesday, March 6th, at 3 p. m. A patriotic reception was given the Unit all along the line, especially in the eastern states where flags were waved from the windows and doors, whistles blown and great throngs of people gathered at the many stations to cheer the military organizations as the train passed by. On the morning of March 22nd the Unit marched to the small town of Dumont, New Jersey, adjacent to Camp Merritt, where it again boarded a train for Hoboken, and was transferred by the Ferry Newborough to Pier 62, from which point it embarked on the White Star mail liner "St. Paul." The nurses of Unit "I," who had been in training for several weeks at Ellis Island, N. Y., joined the Unit at Pier 62.
The first six days out were without incident, but on the seventh day, Friday, March 29th, an American destroyer met the "St. Paul" and acted as convoy. Later it was joined by a second destroyer. On Saturday morning at 11:20 a German submarine launched a torpedo at the "St. Paul," then arose above the surface to witness the results, but the liner was quickly turned and the torpedo passed harmlessly at a distance of about twenty yards aft of the boat. The guns of the "St. Paul" were immediately turned upon the disappearing U-Boat and numerous shots were fired, along with the dropping of many depth bombs, but the effect was unknown, the enemy craft probably escaping undamaged.
The first land seen was the hilly coast of Wales. Soon the "St. Paul" entered the mouth of the Mersey River, arriving at Liverpool Harbor the evening of Saturday, March 30th. The Unit disembarked on English shores at 8 a. m., Easter Sunday, March 31st, and, entraining at Liverpool at ten o'clock a. m., arrived at Southampton at the American Rest Camp at 9 P. M., after a march of three miles through the city, the officers were quartered in wooden barracks of the hut type, the nurses at the Southwestern Hotel and the men in tents with wooden floors.
The Unit was assigned to Hursley Camp Hospital. It was taken over from the British on April 15th and the officers and nurses were taken to the hospital on this date. The enlisted men left the Rest Camp at 11:45 a. m., April 18th, marched to Hursley Camp, a distance of nine miles. Here twenty of the men were assigned to duty, the remainder marching to Morn Hill Camp near Winchester for a week's intensive training in their various lines of work, returning to the hospital, which had by this time been entirely evacuated by the British, on April 23rd, 1918. On April 24th, all the personnel being assigned to duty, the hospital began to receive patients and active service for Unit "I" was started.
Hospital Unit "I" operated the United States Military Hospital at Hursley alone until August 15th, when it was converted into a Base Hospital, later known as Base Hospital No. 204. At this time a few members were detached, but the main body of Hospital Unit "I" continued as an integral part of the operating personnel until the closing of that institution on December 23rd, 1918.
On January 6th, ten officers, forty-four enlisted men and seventeen nurses of Unit "I", having received orders for duty at Hospital Centre, Langres, Haute-Marne, France, left Southampton by S. S. "Yale" for Le Havre, under the command of Major L. F. Mobley, and after a most tempestuous voyage of unhappy memory, duly arrived at that harbor and proceeded via Rouen and Paris to its assigned station, arriving at dawn on the morning of January 9th, 1919. The Unit was then demobilized and the entire personnel assigned to duty with Base Hospital No. 53. The personnel since their junction with the hospital have earnestly endeavored to carry out the high ideals shown in their previous service and their work has been no small factor in the splendid history of Base Hospital No. 53.
VILLE DE LANGRES
LANGRES, LE 9 MARS, 1919.
AUTORISATION officielle accordée par le Conseil municipal à Monsieur le Lieutenant Colonel HART, Médecin-Chef, & au Personnel de l'Hôpital américain No. 53, qu'il en jugera digne, de porter, comme insigne, les Armes de la Ville.
Monsieur le Médecin Chef,
Nous tous qui sommes ici présents, Monsieur le Sous-Prefet, la Municipalité, Messieurs les Membres du Conseil municipal, Madame la Supérieure de l'Hôpital militaire de Saint-Laurent, Messieurs les Administrateurs des Hospices de la Ville, Monsieur Ch. Royer, Monsieur Degré, Professeur d'Anglais au Collège Diderot, interprète, tous, nous avons tenu à venir, avant votre départ, saluer en vous l'esprit chevaleresque qui caractérise votre Nation.
Jadis, au temps des Croisades, Seigneurs & gens du peuple, avaient quitté leurs demeures, & faisant le sacrifice de leurs biens & de leur vie, étaient partis au loin pour combattre les Infidèles.
Avec un même désintéressement, le même oubli d'eux-mêmes, la même vaillance, vos Compagnons d'armes n'ont pas hésité à franchir l'Océan pour venir, à travers tous les périls, défendre la plus sainte des causes, la Nôtre, la cause de la Justice & de l'Humanité contre l'ennemi le plus sauvage, le plus barbare qu'on n'ait jamais connu, l'ignoble allemand.
Vous, Monsieur le Médecin Chef, Messieurs vos Collaborateurs du Service de Santé & Vous, Mesdames les Infirmières, vous avez donné, de votre côté les plus beaux exemples de noblesse, de dévouement, d'amour ardent de l'Humanité.
Ce n'est pas seulement pour les vôtres que vous avez mis en oeuvre votre Science médicale, votre habileté technique, votre dévouement, & les ressources d'un matériel qui semble avoir atteint les dernières limites de la perfection. Mais dès le début de votre arrivée, lorsque, avec votre rapidité habituelle, vous avez établi en quelques jours vos premiers baraquements sur ce plateau langrois, vous avez eu la généreuse inspiration de les inaugurer en y hospitalisant plus de trois cents soldats français, blessés ou malades.
Cet acte de Fraternité Sociale n'a pas été le seul. Vos Docteurs en médecine, Mesdames les Infirmières, soit à Langres, soit dans les Villages environnants n'ont-ils pas, en effet, partout & toujours recherché les occasions de soulager & de guérir nos Compatriotes, en prodiguant les soins, les remèdes & les objets de pansement, sans autre rétribution que les joies austères du Devoir accompli.
Ces joies, les plus douces & les plus profondes de toutes, nous avons voulu les faire revivre dans un double Souvenir.
Les Armes de notre Ville & le tableau de nos remparts vus de ce plateau.
Les Armes de la Ville, fixées à ce ruban tricolore, emblème de la France, ont été brodées par les soins d'une noble & modeste Personne qui désire garder l'anonymat.
Cette peinture de l'Artiste Langrois, M. Ch. Royer, vous remettra aussi sous les yeux les Armes de la Ville avec la devise: "CIVITAS ANTIQUA LINGONUM" & nos vieux remparts, du haut desquels tant de vos Compatriotes ont contemplé notre beau panorama.
C'est donc toute la suite des générations qui se sont succédées sur ce promontoire d'où jaillit notre Marne, deux fois victorieuse; ce sont tous nos ancêtres que nous associons ainsi à notre hommage de reconnaissance & d'admiration pour le Noble Peuple Américain.
Nous serons très heureux & très fiers que ces Armes soient attachées à la hampe de votre Drapeau & placées, comme insigne, sur le bras de tout le Personnel hospitalier qui en sera digne. Ces souvenirs vous rappelleront, nous l'espérons, la cérémonie d'aujourd'hui, avec les sentiments admiratifs & affectueux que tous nous éprouvons pour nos Chers & Nobles Alliés Américains.
C'est animé de ces sentiments qu'au nom du Conseil municipal, au nom de ses Concitoyens, le Maire de Langres est fier, en souvenir de notre vive reconnaissance, d'avoir le grand honneur d'autoriser Monsieur le Lieutenant Colonel Hart, Médecin Chef de l'Hôpital Américain No. 53, à porter lui-même & à attribuer comme insigne, au Personnel attaché à l'Hôpital qu'il en jugera digne, les Armes de la Ville de Langres.
VIVE A JAMAIS L'ALLIANCE AMERICAINE!
LE MAIRE DE LANGRES.
CITY OF LANGRES
LANGRES, MARCH 9, 1919.
Official authorization conferred by the Municipal Council upon Lieut. Colonel Hart, Commanding Officer and the personnel of the American Hospital No. 53, whom he shall judge worthy, to wear, as an insignia, the arms of the City of Langres.
We here present---the Sub-Prefect, the Mayor, the Municipal Council, the Superioress of the Military Hospital of St. Lawrence, the Administrator of our Charitable Institutions, Mr. C. Royer, Mr. Dagré, the Professor of English in Diderot College and the Interpreter---have assembled here before your departure to honor the spirit and the chivalry so characteristic of your nation.
In days gone by, during the Crusades, whole nations left their homes, sacrificed their possessions, their lives and set out to distant lands to battle with infidel hordes.
In the same spirit of disinterestedness, the same self-denial, the same valor, your companions in arms did not hesitate to cross the seas, encountering innumerable perils to defend the most holy of causes, our own; the cause of justice, of humanity, against a foe, the most savage, the most barbaric ever known---the ignoble Germans.
And you, Colonel; you, colaborers in the cause of health; you, nurses, have given the most illustrious examples of nobility, of devotion, of a burning love for humanity.
Your medical science, technical skill, devotion and resources, which appear to have reached the limits of perfection, have not been withheld from those not your own. No; since the hour of your arrival among us, while with habitual rapidity you set up your first barracks upon the Plateau of Langres, your generosity inspired you to admit to your hospital more than 300 French soldiers, sick and wounded.
Nor was this your only act of social fraternity. Your doctors and nurses in Langres, and the surrounding villages, have sought out opportunities to receive and administer to our fellowmen; upon whom you have lavished care, remedies and dressings, receiving no compensation other than the joy of a duty well done.
This joy, sweeter and deeper than all others, we desire to revive by a two. fold souvenir:
The Coat-of-Arms of our city and a picture of our ramparts as seen from the plateau. The Arms of our City attached to this ribbon of tricolor, the emblem of France, have been embroidered by a noble and retiring lady, who desires to remain unknown.
This painting by an artist of Langres, Mr. C. Royer, depicts the Arms of Langres with the device (Civitas Antique Legronum) and our old ramparts, from whose heights many of our fellowmen have viewed our beautiful panorama.
All generations who have lived upon this promontory from which springs our Marne, glorious in a two-fold victory, all our ancestors unite with us in paying the homage of appreciation and admiration for the whole people of America.
It is with joyful pride that we attach this coat-of-arms to your colors and place them as insignia upon the uniform of your personnel. The souvenirs will recall to-day's celebration, together with the sentiments of the admiration and affection which we shall always cherish towards our beloved and noble allies of America.
Animated by these sentiments, in the name of the Municipal Council, my fellow citizens, I, the Mayor of Langres, as remembrance of our deep gratitude, hold it a great honor to authorize Lieut. Colonel Hart, Commanding Officer of Base Hospital No. 53, to wear and to confer upon the personnel of the Hospital whom he shall judge worthy, the Arms of the City of Langres.
LONG LIVE THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE!
The Mayor of Langres
(Seal of Langres, Haute-Marne).
1. A Coat-of-Arms having been approved and adopted by this organization, the following description is published for the information and guidance of all concerned:
"Azure, a rod of Aesculapius or
Crest, cock's head or, superimposed numerals 53 azure,
Torse, azure and argent.
Motto, 'Succurrere non Dedigner.' "
2. The following are the reasons for the various charges:
The knotted stick, with serpent entwined, is symbolic of Aesculapius, the mythological God of the Medical Art, who was called by Homer the "Blameless Physician."
The cock's head is taken from the crest of the Coat-of-Arms of the Medical Corps of the Army, which is the cock of Aesculapius.
BY ORDER OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL HART:
Captain, Sanitary Corps, U. S. A.,
Par. 1. At a public ceremony in the Red Cross Hut at this post, the Mayor and the Council of the City of Langres conferred upon this Hospital, in recognition of its work, the Arms of the City. At which time the national flag of the Unit was decorated with a stole bearing the Arms.
Par. 2. The Coat-of-Arms is thus described:
Les armoiries de la ville sont ainsi libellées: au sautoir de gueules sur d'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or.
Ce fond d'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or était singulièrement voisin des armes royales de France, et comme le sautoir est, en blason, pièce honorable, les armoiries de la ville de Langres avaient une sorte de supériorité sur les armes du roi. Aussi fallut-il un édit spécial pour confirmer par la suite ces armoiries. Cet édit fut rendu le 22 mai 1699.
"The Arms of the City are thus designed: a cross (saltier) of red upon a blue field sown with golden fleurs-de-lis. This field of blue, sown with golden fleurs-de-lis, strikingly resembled the royal arms of France and since the saltier is in heraldry something distinguished, the arms of the city of Langres were, in a measure, superior to the royal arms. Thus it was necessary that a special decree be issued regarding these arms. This decree was issued May 22nd, 1699."
Par. 3. The Arms of the City of Langres having been conferred upon this Hospital, the Arms of Base Hospital 53, as described in General Order No. 2, Headquarters, Base Hospital 53, A. P. O. 714, 1st December, 1918, are hereby impaled with the Arms of the City of Langres.
BY ORDER OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL HART.
WOOD S. WOOLFORD,
Major, Medical Corps, U. S. A.,
Par. 1. Since the health of troops is the most important factor in successful military operations, the Medical Department forms the keystone of the arch supporting the combatant troops. The following is adopted as a distinctive mark which may be worn on the left shoulder by the personnel of Base Hospital No. 53.
A dark blue keystone, approximately 2 inches long, 21/4 inches at the base and 1 1/2 inches at the smallest diameter, upon which will be embroidered in red the figure "5", the loop of the "5" being subdivided to form a "3"; the red embroidered figure to be 1 5/8 inches in height and 7/8 inches wide.
Details and dimensions will be in accordance with the drawing herewith: (see plate)
BY ORDER OF LT. COLONEL HART:
Captain, Sanitary Corps, U. S. A.,
NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETEEN
BEGINS A NEW ERA.
This new era is born of the travail of war sufferings and home sorrows. Let us greet the New Year as we would greet the bright morning sunlight after a dark night. Let us face the coming day of peace with countenances hopeful and with eager hearts.
You, who have been saddened in America with the news from France, you do not sorrow as the defeated, but as the victorious. May the brightness of the ideals which have triumphed transfigure your sorrow and make you strong to live for the perpetuation of that for which our loved heroes have died.
With hearty New Year Greetings,
JOHN A. NESBITT,
January 1st, 1919.
Base Hospital No. 53,
A New Year Message sent by Chaplain Nesbitt from France to the nearest relative of the patients who have died in this hospital.