Elements of
The American Field Service Archives of World War Il
1939-1945

L. D. Geller
Certified Archivist
Academy of Certified Archivists

L. D. GELLER

RECORD GROUP #2
AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE ARCHIVES OF WORLD WAR II
1939-1941

 

Contents

Series Listing

Series Descriptions Record Group #2

Box and Folder Lists, Record Group #2


Series Listing

Paris Headquarters Correspondence Series Sept. 7, 1939-Oct. 25, 1941 (Lovering Hill-Stephen Galatti Correspondence)

Paris Headquarters Correspondence Series Sept. 7, 1939-Oct. 25, 1941 (Administrative Correspondence)

France 1940, Drivers' Essays and Letter Series
June-Sept, 1940

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
Hadfield Spears Hospital Unit Correspondence, Aug. 28, 1940-Apr. 10, 1947.

AFS-French Forces Europe, 1944-1945
Stephen Galatti-Free French Correspondence, Aug. 13, 1941-Feb. 19, 1945

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
Lt. Alan Stuyvesant Correspondence, Aug 1, 1942-Feb. 11, 1942

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
General Correspondence of French Unit, Feb. 16, 1942-Jan. 10, 1944

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
Administrative Correspondence, May 26, 1943-Dec. 23, 1943

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
Disbanding of the French Unit Correspondence, May, 1943-Aug. 29, 1944

AFS-Free French Forces-Middle East Command Series, 1940-1943
Formation of the Revived French Section Correspondence, Jun. 10, 1943-Oct. 25, 1944

AFS-Free French Forces Europe, 1943-1945
Historical Materials Relating to AFS-French Unit, 1943-1945

AFS with the Free French Forces, 1940-1945
AFS-First French Army Europe Administrative Series, 1944-1945

AFS-British Liberation Armies
First French Army Europe Administrative Series II, 1944-1945

AFS in Syria-Middle East Forces
1941-1944

New York HQ, 1939-19445, Preliminary Planning Subseries
Sept. 5, 1939-Dec. 3, 1942

NY HQ Correspondence Series, 1939-1945
Stephen Galatti Correspondence Sub-Series, May 25, 1940-Sept. 24, 1945

 

SUB GROUP I
AFS IN FRANCE, 1939-1941.

PARIS HEADQUARTERS CORRESPONDENCE SERIES
SEPT. 7, 1939-OCT. 25, 1941

(LOVERING HILL --- STEPHEN GALATTI CORRESPONDENCE SUB SERIES), SEPT. 7, 1939-AUG. 9, 1940

This important series contains the correspondence of the AFS commander in France, Lovering Hill and Stephen Galatti, Director General of the AFS in the New York Headquarters.

Topics found in this correspondence include the reactivation of the Field Service in France with explanatory correspondence concerning the French Government's request to the American Hospital to form an Ambulance Field Service. There is Hill-Galatti correspondence on the personalities involved in the Hospital Field Service Committee, the fact that the Hospital did not want to run a Field Service and Hill's advice that the newly reactivated AFS in New York not merge its efforts with the Hospital. There is other correspondence concerning George Washington Lopp's American Volunteer Ambulance Corps' attempting to use the name of the old American Field Service and Lopp's influence with the French which was detrimental to the name of the AFS.

The correspondence is very descriptive of the building of the AFS from an administrative point of view in the U. S. and in France. There is material on the establishment of the AFS from a legal standpoint with the U.S. Dept. of State, as well as considerable correspondence from Hill to Galatti concerning the difficulties of attaching the ambulance sections directly to French infantry divisions as in World War I. Material is found on design and shipment of ambulance bodies and on the politics involved in the use of the heavy ambulance or the light ambulance such as was used in WWI. There is Hill correspondence with Galatti concerning finding a suitable headquarters building in Paris as good as 21 rue Raynouard was in World War I, and the possible use of Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt's house at 10 rue Le Roux. Considerable correspondence exists on difficulties of dealing with various French generals at the War office and the hope that Daladier would fix things in favor of the Field Service.

Hill correspondence can be found in this sub series on the subject of how the tactics in the present war would be so different from those of World War I with the corresponding need for men who will not flinch under aerial attack. Many AFS personalities appear in this sub-series. The question of who will take out the first AFS ambulance section is debated back and forth between Paris and New York. Harold Willis' desire to be the first Chef de Section clashed with the opinion of Lovering Hill. Material on the combat actions of Section I in the area around Beauvais and Amiens can be found here as well as correspondence on the collapse of France and the need to extract AFS men from France.

 

SUB GROUP I
AFS IN FRANCE, 1939-1941.

PARIS HEADQUARTERS CORRESPONDENCE SERIES
SEPT. 7, 1939-OCT. 25, 1941 (1945)

(ADMINISTRATIVE CORRESPONDENCE SUB SERIES),
NOV. 2, 1939-OCT. 25, 1941

CONFIDENTIAL CORRESPONDENCE exists from William Wallace in Paris to Stephen Galatti, N.Y., concerning the weakness of AFS in liaison with French War Office and Lovering Hill's dependence upon his old Lieutenant of World War I days, Emmanuel DeRode, who is not even in the army. There are Wallace complaints to Galatti that Hill does not know how to delegate authority. Julian Allen correspondence to Galatti indicates that Hill has pushed himself to the point of a nervous breakdown and should be replaced in France by Galatti. Jack Brant correspondence to Galatti echoes Allen's opinion.

ADMINISTRATIVE CORRESPONDENCE contains William Wallace's correspondence with Galatti concerning organization of AFS within U.S. Neutrality Act. There is a Wallace description of the departure of Section I, AFS, for the front on May, 1940, and Julian Allen correspondence on the need for Section II to compete with J.W. Lopp's American Volunteer Ambulance Corps. There is Jack Brant correspondence with U.S. Postmaster General, Jim Farley, asking him to clear AFS through to Ambassador William Bullitt's office. There are also accounts of drivers LeClair Smith and Stuart Benson of Section I under fire in the Amiens-Beauvais area and the bombing strafing of civilians by German planes.

EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLY CORRESPONDENCE contains Wallace to William DeFord Bigelow correspondence on the design merits of the Ford vs. Chevrolet ambulance, financial estimates to keep a section in the field for one year, equipment specifications for an ambulance, construction blueprints, (removed and encapsulated), a Wallace report written after the Fall of France on his work in ambulance construction and design, as well as an appreciation of the WWII Service. There is also a list of AFS ambulance and other equipment given to the Red Cross after the Fall of France.

FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENCE from Lovering Hill in White Sulphur Springs, West VA., after the Fall of France concerning the disposal of AFS material in France and the hope that the Secours National under former Ambassador A. de Laboulaye will take over AFS material in France from the Red Cross with financial assets to be turned over to the American Hospital of Paris.

RETREAT FROM PARIS AND LOVERING HILL'S REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE contains Ralph Richmond's account of the Battle for France and AFS's role in the retreat. He also describes the resignation of Lovering Hill as commander and generally describes the conditions of chaos and disintegration of the French Army and the loss of contact of AFS Headquarters with Section I. There are cables from Secretary of State Cordell Hull to Galatti concerning news of John Clement, Donald Coster, George King and Gregory Waite, all captured by advancing German forces. There is Maurice Barber correspondence after he had taken over command of AFS from Hill concerning the evacuation of AFS men from Pau and Nazi occupied Biarritz near the Spanish border, as well as news that some of the men will stay on after the surrender to do relief work in northern France.

There is Barber correspondence concerning the fact that AFS wives in France and the female staff had to be evacuated with the men just ahead of the German advance. There is a letter from Mlle. A. Bétourné and Mme. Grimbert, AFS staff members, concerning how Jack Brant pressured Lovering Hill to resign and their affection and support for Hill. There is also a State Dept. communiqué to AFS N.Y. that the four captured AFS men were doing war relief work in Belgian hospitals and that they would be repatriated. A list of 40 AFS men and their whereabouts in July, 1940 can be found here.

Lovering Hill's reports and narratives of the retreat from Paris are some of the most important material in this sub group. His "History of Section I" gives the whole story of the section from the time it left Paris until most of the men were evacuated to the U.S. from the commander's point of view. His detailing of the breakdown in communications is most valuable as is his account of the actions the Section was engaged in as well as its retreat along with the French Armies. He also gives his account of his resignation as head the of AFS in France. Hill's accounts contain material on the work of King, Clement Waite and Charles Coster in Belgium as verified by the British and French doctors who worked with them.

A Galatti communication to the men of the American Field Service in the U.S. indicates that 66 ambulances, surgical units and mobile first aid stations were turned over to the American Ambulance, Great Britain.

PUBLIC RELATIONS NEWS CLIPPINGS AND STORIES are found here on the arrival of Section I in France and on its later battle evacuation work. There are AFS recruitment printings and a dinner program of Boston AFS WWI men for their WWII brethren. A typed paper by an unknown English nurse working with the French Armies describes her disbelief that France has fallen and her determination to work with the Free French Forces of Gen. DeGaulle until France is free once again.

CONFIDENTIAL REPORT SECTION I MAY 8 to JUNE 29, 1940 kept by Harold Willis. This report contains section and individual citations A L'Ordre de L'Armée, finances and loans to men being repatriated to U.S. There is a chronology of events at the front and during the retreat to the Loire.

DRIVERS LETTERS FROM FRANCE DECEMBER 28, 1939-JUNE 2 1939 (1961) These letters are quite valuable for descriptions of actions around Beauvais and Amiens in the end of May 1940 from the driver's point of view. Opinions concerning German bombing and strafing of civilian refugees are found in this correspondence of the universal wish that the U.S. would intervene in the war on the side of civilization. There are also letters dating from Dec., 1939 through the winter of the period of the Phony War about the organization of the A.F.S., the personality of Lovering Hill, and the competition between A.F.S. and the Iroquois Ambulance Service.

FRENCH ARMY A.F.S SECTION I FRANCE 1940 AND THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH FREE FRENCH FORCES DEC 28, 1939-- JUNE 2 1940. These citations are for men who served in the battle for France, in Syria and in North Africa and were awarded by Gens. Catroux, Le Clerc, De Gaulle and Marshall Pétain. There are Translations by Lovering Hill of French telegrams thanking A.F.S. for its work by Paul Renaud and others.

TRIBUTES FOR AFS FROM FRENCH --- SEPT 15, 1939 NOV. 2 1940. Many holograph originals from Count René St. Quentin, French Ambassador to U.S., and Commandant De Montravel 17, Feb. 1940 on reactivation of A.F.S. and his ancient friendships.

 

SUB GROUP I
AFS IN FRANCE, 1939-1941

FRANCE 1940 DRIVER'S ESSAYS AND LETTERS SERIES, JUNE-SEPT., 1940

STUART BENSON'S STORY

Stuart Benson was a decorated officer in the American Army in the Great War. However, he saw that the war he was engaged in as an AFS ambulance driver was one in which, "Civilization was on its return trip to savagery". This was a sentiment held by all of the drivers who left accounts of the first AFS section in France in 1940. Atrocities committed against civilians in bombing and strafing attacks from the air in the vicinity of Amiens, and against ambulances marked with the Red Cross, are substantiated again and again. Hospitals, women, children, and the aged were the obvious targets of German air formations. He writes of the great courage of the French nurses who stayed at their posts until there seemed little avenue of escape, tending the wounded. However, his greatest praise is for the French peasant, long suffering and stoical in their agonizing retreat to the south while constantly under bombardment and direct machine gun fire from the air.

Benson's story of a French tank crew that surrendered to the Germans and were systematically killed with bullets to the back of their heads was corroborated by driver Lawrence Schwab. Benson was moved, after his period of service, to exercise his skill as an artist, in the creation of a monument to the French peasant of that time which he called, "Beauvais 1940". Although never executed, the watercolor of the monument exists in the AFS Archives as does a brochure which develops the concept of the monument and is a testament to Benson's feeling for the French.

Donald Q. Coster, BEHIND THE GERMAN LINES Reader's Digest Reprint, November, 1940

Coster describes the burning of the hospital at Amiens and the capture of drivers Jack Clement, George King, Gregory Wait, and himself by the German Panzer unit that took Amiens. He discusses how the drivers were mistaken by the Germans for American doctors and were put in charge of the, "German-American" Hospital at Chateaudun. They were later shifted to the Nouvel Hospital and there worked with French doctors, under terrible conditions, aiding French refugees, while the German field hospitals were well equipped. No water and filth were their chief problems. The Germans had taken all of the French nurses and their X-Ray equipment. Eventually they were let go to Belgium by the German commandant, and there made contact with the American Embassy which aided in their repatriation. The German treatment of these Americans in occupied Paris, where they went from Belgium on the way back to the U.S., was described as being, "scrupulously courteous".

Frances Blum, THE AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE unpublished Ms.

As Blum was in the last group of Section 2 of the AFS, his arrival in France corresponded to the German breakthrough on the northern front, and the impending disaster for the French. His descriptions are therefore valuable for a knowledge of the conditions in France during this period of complete chaos and breakdown of military and civil order. The men of the section had difficulty in finding the AFS in the general retreat, and it was only by accident, that they ran into some members of the AFS staff and went into their billets two miles out of Vouvray which was the site of AFS Headquarters after the evacuation of Paris.

Blum discusses Lovering Hill's decision to resign as head of the AFS in France, and the take over by Maurice Barber. He discusses the ineffectiveness of the French resistance to the Germans finding it exemplified by the German bombing of the Tours air field without French response. He describes how the men of the AFS and the French took the news of the armistice as announced by Pétain. There is an account of the search for the men of Section I and how they were finally located in Biarritz as well as the closing of the Spanish and Portuguese frontiers due to the refugees in the ports of those countries waiting evacuation. The last section of his account deals with demobilization, and the fact that each man had then to shift for himself to find a way home to the U.S.

Charles Curtis, SECTION I -THE AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE

This account begins with the Section leaving Paris for the front on May 1, 1940. It covers the evacuation of the hospitals at Amiens and Beauvais, the convoy to Crèvecoeur, working the hospital at Agell outside of Beauvais, the hospital at Pont St. Maxence, and the evacuations of Postes de Secours at St Martin, Ecuyen and Presle. Virtually, it is a description of all of the areas and all of the ambulance work engaged in by the AFS in Northern France and Picardy. There is a description of the capture of Peter Muir and DeBelle, and Harold Willis' taking over the section when Muir was captured. Curtis ends his account with the wanderings in search of his wife whom he finally finds in England after the Fall of France.

Francis Hamlin, THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL OF PARIS JULY 1940

This is an account of Paris at the time of the armistice, and just before the German occupation. Injured, Hamlin was himself evacuated to the American Hospital where shortly after his admission as a patient, he began to drive ambulances for the hospital with a cast on his foot. Hamlin was one of the two drivers available to the Hospital who did refugee evacuation work. He ended up working for the AFS again when it turned over its ambulances to the American Red Cross after the occupation.

Alexander McElwain, WE DROVE WITHOUT LIGHTS published in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, 1940

This essay concentrates on the refuges in Belgium and Northern France filing ever backwards from the frontiers to escape the oncoming Germans. He writes of the phenomenon of "mass sympathy", that resulted in great acts of kindness between people under extreme duress. This is the best account of the actual evacuation of the Amiens Hospital.

Ralph Munger, WE DROVE BY NIGHT LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE VOLUNTEER March 23, 1940-July 15, 1940

These letters describe the day to day life of AFS drivers in Paris before they left for the front in May, 1940. There are comments on the lack of success of the Allies in Norway, and that Hitler seemed to be in complete control in Germany. He states that the Allies must wake up to the fact that economic sanctions will not get rid of Hitlerism. He wrote of the continuing aggression of the Nazis in Europe throughout the early Spring of 1940 and hopes that the Allies will finally stand together. When the battle actually began, he wrote that the "Germans delight in bombing Red Cross Units, not to mention refugee columns", and, "I would like to pass on the word to all isolationists in the U.S. that the Germans are brutally machine gunning helpless civilians in non-military districts apparently for no other reason than to spread a reign of terror". The Germans were aiming at world domination, he wrote. His opinion on the fall of Belgium was that Belgium could not be blamed if no one came to her aid.

Andrew Ransom, AMERICAN VOLUNTEERS

Ransom speculates on the psychological changes in human beings that war brings, i.e., that the peacetime way of life is replaced by a sense of bravado. In such circumstances, all pretense to sophistication was lost. Ransom thought that the problem of the breakdown in French morale came from the fact that all communiqués from the front were in fact overblown with the purpose of engendering confidence. In the end, when the facts were known, the population panicked. Like many of the other accounts, Ransom's discussed the terrible force of German air power and France's virtual inability to defend against it. Also the speed of the German attack pushing so hard, so fast, meant that no army in the world, the French were not excepted, could execute an orderly retreat. The French army was beaten, Ransom wrote, not by its lack of courage, but due to the corruption of its own government.

Ralph Richmond, LETTERS WRITTEN HOME TO HIS FAMILY June 30, 1940 -- August 11, 1940

As Richmond arrived in France to serve with the AFS during the collapse of the front, his account is full of the story of the disintegration of France. He testifies on the political upheaval within the AFS that saw Jack Brant conspire to, and then actually force Lovering Hill's resignation as head of the Field Service in France. This is corroborated in other archival material. He writes, "I do hope that America recognizes what is going on in the world, and does her best to prepare, or else her fate will be that of France". He also writes that the politicians in both France and England are being blamed for everything relating to the collapse, i.e., the lack of materials, planes, arms, and munitions. There is also a good description of Paris under the Nazis as he observed it.

Unknown author, THE LUCK OF THE AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE

This account was probably written by one of the veterans of the World War I Field Service who volunteered again for service in World War II. It describes the capture and release of drivers, Coster, King, Clement and Wait. It also describes the capture and the escape of Peter Muir, Chef de Section I. There is a clipping from a Brussels newspaper that praises the work of the first four drivers mentioned above at hospitals in that occupied city. It was this newspaper that gave first notice to the members of the AFS in France that the men captured were not killed by the Germans in their advance.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES
1940-1945

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES-MIDDLE EAST
COMMAND SERIES, 1940-1943

HADFIELD SPEARS HOSPITAL UNIT
CORRESPONDENCE SUB-SERIES, AUG. 28, 1940-APR. 10, 1947

This sub-series contains the document organizing the Hadfield-Spears Hospital Unit with the Free French Forces under Gen. Charles de Gaulle. There is Mary Borden Spears correspondence with the American Ambulance Great Britain describing her plans for the mobile hospital unit to accompany the Free French expedition to Africa with a breakdown of the equipment needed for the unit. There is Stephen Galatti correspondence with the British War Relief Society indicating the interest of the AFS in the Hadfield-Spears venture. Galatti correspondence with Mrs. Spears offers AFS money and drivers in return for the chance to preserve the AFS name with the Free French Forces. There are also Galatti correspondence with de Gaulle offering the AFS to the Free French with the Hadfield-Spears unit as well as Galatti cables indicating AFS anger with de Gaulle for accepting the American Ambulance and Great Britain's proposal to serve with the Free French rather than the AFS in spite of its distinguished service with the French in two wars.

Robert Dickie's report on the organization of the AFS in Syria entitled, "War in the Middle East" , Nov. 12, 1941 concerning the equipment and description of the Hadfield-Spears Mobile Field Hospital and the first contacts with the Free French Forces in Palestine as well as the engagements with the Vichy army and air force.

 

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES
MIDDLE-EAST SERIES, 1940-1943
AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES EUROPE SERIES, 1944-1945

STEPHEN GALATTI-FREE FRENCH CORRESPONDENCE
SUB SERIES, AUGUST 13, 1941 --- FEBRUARY 19, 1945

This sub series contains Galatti correspondence with Maurice Barber appointing him as AFS representative in Cairo to deal with the logistics of transferring ambulances to Greece and also indicating that the AFS was working the First Free French Division in the Middle East in August, 1941.

There is correspondence indicating that the AFS was officially working with the British in August, 1941, and that the HQ staff under Col. Ralph Richmond arrived in Cairo in September, 1941. At this time, Alan Stuyvesant was given command of the AFS Free French section and was operating in conjunction with Col. Richmond. The command structure indicating the unclear delineations between the AFS French section, and the AFS sections working with the British is found in Galatti correspondence chiefly with Alan Stuyvesant, which indicates that Galatti was hesitant to place Stuyvesant directly under Richmond's command. There is Galatti correspondence with Stuyvesant indicating that AFS was attempting to furnish him with more men and ambulances as well as a memo of April 20, 1942, to Stuyvesant concerning the Free French Delegation in the U.S., and asking him to sent PR materials to the U.S. to aid in fund raising for the Free French unit. There are materials found here concerning the capture of Lt. Stuyvesant by the Italians, and Thomas Greenough's becoming the head of the Free French unit in October, 1942.

There is Galatti correspondence with Richmond showing that the Free French unit began as a result of AFS's work with the Hadfield-Spears Mobile Hospital Unit in Syria, and that Galatti had promised De Gaulle an AFS presence with the Free French, an agreement that Galatti was unwilling to break. There is also Galatti correspondence from this time, indicating that AFS had lent two men and two ambulances to the U.S. Army Air Force which was thought to be a good move for PR in the U.S.

Additional correspondence in this series is on the subject of the discontinuing the AFS Free French Unit, and the later formation of the revived French unit. This correspondence is in the form of Galatti letters offering AFS ambulance support for the French Armies forming in anticipation of the invasion of Europe.

There are also important copies, drafts and originals of the contracts between the AFS and the French Army. There is a letter of request from General De Larminat for a 3rd AFS Section with the Free French as of March 1943, and General Giraud's request for two AFS sections. Correspondence exists on the subject of the German Government recognition of the non combattant status of the AFS with the French in December, 1943.

There is a Henry Coster memo of conversations with Capt. Daniel Vilfroy of the French Military Mission to the U.S. of establishing AFS sections and HQs with the French forces of the invasion. There is also a May 2, 1944 contract of the AFS and the French signed by Major General A.M. Brossin de Saint Didier.

Considerable correspondence exists on transportation of elements of Section I AFS-France, to North Africa in the Summer, 1944 and a complete roster of men who served with the Free French in North Africa.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES
1940-1945

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES-MIDDLE EAST
COMMAND SERIES, 1940-1943

LT. ALAN STUYVESANT CORRESPONDENCE
SUB-SERIES, AUG. 1, 1941-FEB. 11, 1942

There is Lt. Alan Stuyvesant correspondence with Stephen Galatti concerning the four men working with the Hadfield-Spears Hospital Unit in Syria being released by the Unit to form an AFS Unit with the Free French. There is also Galatti correspondence with Stuyvesant indicating the plan to build up ambulance sections for the Free French under Stuyvesant's command, and that Stuyvesant would be working in connection with Col. Ralph Richmond.

Stuyvesant's correspondence from the Middle East to New York Headquarters discusses his working with Gen. Cise, head of all the Free French Medical Services who was an old colonial from French Equatorial Africa, and who served in a Moroccan Division in World War I and therefore knew the AFS in those days. He also discusses Gen. de Larminat who was brought by de Gaulle to Syria to reorganize the French fighting forces. He puts forth the French hope of obtaining caterpillar and air ambulance for evacuations with the hope that AFS might be able to provide them. Stuyvesant explains the French need for fast off the road ambulances indicating that many had been lost in German air attacks. Stuyvesant's commitment to the Free French is apparent. He indicates that they will need all the help that they can get in that they are used to being treated as military step children when it comes to supply.

The Stuyvesant correspondence includes his letters to his men from an Italian prison camp where he was taken after his capture at the Battle of Bir Hacheim. There is also Lt. Norman Jeffries correspondence to Galatti on the need for good drivers and the fact that the AFS French Section was putting heart and soul into the work in that they knew that Galatti wanted a good section with the French. A letter from Gen. de Larminat to Galatti thanks him for the ambulances given to the Free French brigades and asks for more drivers.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES
1941-1945

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES --- MIDDLE EAST FORCES SERIES, 1940-1943

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE OF FRENCH UNIT
SUB-SERIES, FEB 16, 1942-JAN 10, 1944

This sub-series contains Col. Ralph Richmond's order of transfer of AFS men to the Free French Forces and a list of men so detached. There is a signal to Col. Richmond in AFS Headquarters, Cairo, concerning AFS losses of men and ambulances at the Battle of Bir Hacheim, as well as correspondence concerning personnel and ambulance requirements of the French Unit as of July, 1943. There are notes of a meeting between Col. Richmond, Major King and Capt. Hinrichs with Col. Assouville of the Free French in Dec. 1942, concerning giving 12 ambulances and 20 men to the French. There is correspondence from Capt. Dunbar Hinrichs to Stephen Galatti, Director of the AFS in New York concerning unity of command structure and who will run the service, Cairo or New York? There is a communication from Lt. Greenough on the organization of the Free French Unit of two Brigades as well as a telegram from the AFS French Unit to their World War I counter-parts at the time of the reunion in March of 1943.

There is communication from Major Harry Coster in Cairo Headquarters to now, Capt. Greenough trying to get more ambulances and men from New York by the public relations act of placing AFS men with Gen. LeClerc's 3rd. Free French Brigade. The correspondence contains many communications from Greenough in the field to headquarters about not getting the ambulances as promised from New York and his difficulties in having to explain to the men and to the French. At the same time, there are communications from Headquarters indicating that they have tried to do what they could for Greenough.

The correspondence contains materials on the death of Lt. Richard Stockton and Driver, August Rubel on a land mine which their ambulance struck while serving with LeClerc's Free French Forces in the Tunisian Campaign. There is a report of the actions of AFS stretcher bearers attached to French Foreign Legion troops in an attack on German positions and the wounding and death of AFS Driver, Caleb Milne. There is a copy of the contract between AFS and the French Army which was patterned upon its World War I prototype and was the second such contract drawn up in World War II, the first being for the AFS serving with the French Army in the Battle for France, 1940. There is a communiqué from AFS Headquarters on the subject of men who wished to extend their enlistments to serve with AFS units in India, dated May 25, 1943.

Considerable correspondence exists on the loan of AFS Units from AFS 567 Company to the Free French Unit and the wounding and death of some AFS men through possible negligence of its C.O., Capt. Greenough. There is an affidavit from Driver, Pat Nadeau concerning the death of Lt. Stockton and Rubel, and a statement intending to clear Capt. Greenough of all possible charges. The correspondence contains a typed and unsigned letter of thanks from Generals' Koeing and Giroud of the Free French Command to AFS for the help rendered them. There is also correspondence from Capt. John Boit who succeeded Greenough indicating the feeling of the men of his unit that they have been discriminated against by Headquarters in favor of units serving with the British. There is also correspondence concerning the use of AFS men serving with the French of the Geneva Card, for the Free French were not signatories of the Geneva agreements and therefore would probably not be recognized by the Axis powers if men were captured. The Germans recognized only the government of Vichy, France in that there was no German recognition of the French Committee of National Liberation of which the Free French Forces were part of. The U.S. Dept. of State refused to sanction the work of the AFS with the Free French. There is correspondence on how this State Dept. ruling might be circumvented, chiefly by putting the Free French directly under the control of the British Armies. This, however, was a solution that no one favored. There is therefore correspondence from Capt. Boit to Galatti indicating that he had withdrawn his men from the Free French using the State Dept. ruling to ease the situation politically with the French.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES 1940-1945

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES-MIDDLE EAST COMMAND SERIES, 1940-1943

ADMINISTRATIVE CORRESPONDENCE, MAY 26, 1943-DEC. 23, 1943

This correspondence includes Alan Stuyvesant's report in the wake of the Battle of Bir Hacheim dated May 28, 1943, to Galatti on the needs of the AFS-FFC Unit and its constant supply problems. He also writes of the need of the French to have their own medical services that are not dependent upon the British. There is correspondence with Galatti concerning the possibility of the De Gaulle and Giraud forces combining and the effect that it might have on the AFS, as well as Alan Stuyvesant's personal situation of staying with the AFS or taking a position with the U.S. Army. There is an AFS roll of men serving with the French as of June, 1943 and a cable from Lt. Col. Enos Curtin that 25 ambulances are ready to be shipped to the French and are awaiting notice from the French Commander and Chief that the Germans and the Italians have been notified that the AFS was serving with the French as non-combatants. There is Galatti to Col. Ralph Richmond correspondence on the subject of staffing the AFS-FFF Unit including possible officers for that group in the persons of Tom Greenough and William Burton. There is also an AFS cable to the U.S. Consulate in Algiers stating that the State Dept. will not authorize the AFS to serve with the Free French until the Germans acknowledge their service under the Geneva Convention.

The correspondence holds reports of A.P. West with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt on the AFS history with the Free French in World Wars I and II and the stalemate over organization with the Free French until the Axis recognizes the Free French.

 

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES
MIDDLE EAST SERIES, 1940-1943

DISBANDING OF THE FRENCH UNIT
CORRESPONDENCE, MAY, 1943-AUGUST 29, 1944

Most of this correspondence is from the period immediately before the French section was disbanded due to lack of Axis recognition of the Free French.

There is Captain Thomas Greenough correspondence with Major Coster concerning the unsettled state of the French section with Alan Stuyvesant's plans to leave the A.F.S. The correspondence also alludes to Greenough's own plans to resign. Greenough presents his ideas concerning future operation of the French Unit with regard to men and ambulances, and writes of the need of the new CO to have sympathy and tolerance for the French.

There is a request on the part of Col. Relinger on behalf of Gen. LeClerc, concerning the possibility of the A.F.S.' donation of two mobile operating theaters. Also found in this material is a wire explaining the deaths of August Rubel and Lt. Richard Stockton near Enfidaville. There is also a wire to New York on the subject of the French attack resulting in the death of Caleb Mime. The series includes a number of section reports for 1943.

Materials can be found here on the chronology of the last steps taken to finish up administrative work regarding the disbanding of the Free French Unit. Also within these materials is Major Montfort's letter of recommendation for the Free French Unit in his capacity of Director of Medical Services for the Forces Françaises Libres. A notice to Stephen Galatti from Capt. John Boit indicates that on September 23, 1943, on his own initiative, he withdrew the AFS unit from the service of the French 1st Division. There are also documents indicating that the ambulances will continue to be used by the French for local work until such time as the A.F.S. would be able to serve the French again. A contract between the French and the A.F.S. exists to this effect, as well as correspondence to Galatti on the formation of a French Expeditionary Force for Italy, and for Europe, and the creation of an Armée de Souveraineté for North Africa.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES 1940-1945

AFS-FREE FRENCH FORCES-MIDDLE EAST COMMAND SERIES, 1940-1943

FORMATION OF THE REVIVED FRENCH SECTION
CORRESPONDENCE, JUNE 10, 1943-OCT. 25, 1944

There is Stephen Galatti to Lt. Col. George Olmstead correspondence including a brief history of the AFS in the Middle East Command since 1942 as well as a request from General Giroud suggesting that the AFS serve the French using British cards and then only in Africa in order to comply with U.S. State Dept. rulings. There is a September, 1943 acknowledgement that the AFS is no longer confined to the Middle East but will serve in the British invasion forces.

There is a letter from the Comité Français de La Liberation Nationale in the U.S. to the AFS indicating that the Germans have recognized AFS service with the Free French. There is also correspondence between Col. Richmond and C.H. Coster on the revival of an independent French AFS unit in April, 1944. There is also a notification that C.H. Coster will assume command of this Unit with the rank of Commandant (Major), and that it will be an independent command. There is subsequent correspondence between Major Coster and Capt. Daniel Vilfroy of the French Military Mission in Washington, DC. on the revival of Section I France, 1914-1917, and 1940 to serve with the French in Italy.

The correspondence includes the AFS contract with the French Army dated 13 April, 1944 and correspondence interpreting the contract. There is also correspondence of U.S. State Dept. giving permission for the AFS to serve with the French Armies, April 1945. Col. Ralph Richmond correspondence exists advising on AFS units completely independent of British command structure to serve with the French. There is a C.H. Coster "Procedure for Formation of AFS.FFC Unit" with clipping from La Patrie. "Le General Koenig cite à l'ordre du Jour les Volontaires Americains attaches à la l’Armée Française"

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES1940-1945

AFS --- FREE FRENCH FORCES
EUROPE SERIES, 1943-1945

HISTORICAL MATERIALS RELATING TO AFS --- FRENCH UNIT, 1943-1945

This series contains the history of the reconstituted AFS Section 1 Unit from time of its departure from Ft. Patrick Henry, Va. to North Africa by W.T.C. Hanna. Hanna writes of the generosity of the French to the AFS in Algiers as well as descriptions of life in the French Army in Africa which is a romantic appraisal of the old colonial army of Beau Geste days.

Hanna writes of preparations for the invasion of Europe and the fact that the first of three companies of 433rd Battalion Medical got into Europe three weeks after the invasion. There are excellent descriptions of the Vosges Campaign with the unit under fire. Tom Greenough's bravery is told of here. Hanna writes of AFS doing evacuation work for the French Resistance fighters and the great appreciation of the Field Service by those men. There are descriptions of the first French air support by French Air Force Thunderbolts hammering German positions. The AFS being the only Americans in the Vosges meant that they were sometimes looked upon with suspicion by some of the French. The end of the battle for Colmar was really the end of the war in the Vosges as Hanna describes it, in that Colmar was the main German supply depot in the Vosges.

Hanna's account also contains materials on the invasion of Germany from the point of view of the AFS. At first the men reacted to being in Germany, "that black source of evil" with some disgust. The feeling was reciprocated by the Germans who according to Hanna, looked upon the Americans and their French conquerors with malice. Hanna indicates little remorse on the part of the German population with which they came in contact.

Hanna describes the shock and horror of seeing the concentration camps for the first time, and the incredible number of the tortured and the dead as shown to him by a survivor. There is also a description of the beating and killing of a former SS guard by camp inmates. The destruction of Kurnbach by Ghoum troops from Morocco is part of his story. Hanna reflects on how anyone could trust what Germans say which comes after witnessing AFS drivers arguing with confirmed Nazi civilians.

The series contains a variety of historical papers on the invasion of Germany by the U.S. 7th Army and the 1st French Army. Major C.H. Coster's report on the French military situation and AFS connections to the French from Bir Hacheim to the invasion of Europe is found here. There are also manuscript fragments relating to the three AFS sections serving with the French First Army in the Colmar pocket which cleared the way into Alsace. The series contains B. Cuddy's corrections to Hanna's account of the campaign in Alsace which he said had much less of a storybook character than Hanna gave to it. Particularly important is Cuddy's description of the French taking of La Bresse after its burning by the retreating Germans, and the deportation of its male population by the Germans. Cuddy disputes Hanna's view of the French soldier and the French Underground fighting forces.

The series contains Jerry Addoms, "Outline of the Activities of AFS Section 1 from August 16 to September 16, 1944". Also included is, "The Outline of the Alsatian Campaign; PR releases by David Briggs and PR French Section AFS". The paper discusses heavy French casualties in the offensive in Alsace and in the attack on the Siegfried Line. His second part on the AFS in Germany with the French Army", gives account of the self effacing German civilian when he comes in contact with the invader, and mirrors' Hanna account in this respect.

Chronology of American Field service Sections I, II, III, with First French Army, July, 1944 --- March, 1945

Major William W. Phillips, "France, November, 1944 --- May, 1945", with comments by Major Charles Henry Coster

This document of a historical nature discusses why the French AFS unit of the Western Desert was dissolved, and how Stephen Galatti and William Wallace had planned and worked for the revival of the French unit. Phillips writes of the difficulties of the revived unit at first in organizing with the French Etat Major Service de Santé, concerning the number of men to be provided by AFS. He explains how the First Section was placed under Aspirant Jeremy Addoms and attached to the French 433rd Medical Battalion, the latter structure being borrowed by the French from the American Table of Organization. (In World War I, AFS sections were attached directly to French divisions of Infantry). Some AFS units continued in this tradition while others did not. He explains the advantages and disadvantages of both.

There are good comments on how De Gaulle was treated by the Allies and one can draw his own conclusions concerning the eventual outcome of such treatment.

Phillips writes of the memorable days of landing again in France and the AFS moving again into the line with French troops of the First Army which was a revival of AFS traditions. He writes of the importance of operations around the Colmar Pocket in terms of the wider strategy of the war and the fact that the crisis in supply suffered by the AFS with the French came from the fact that the French incorporated FFI units into its armies expanding them by one third.

Charles Henry Coster, "The French Section of the American Field Service, 1944-1945

Coster gives his explanation of why A.F.S. sections under his command were posted to reserve battalions in the main, instead of to divisions. This was a major question in that A.F.S. traditionally had its sections directly to French infantry divisions. This was chiefly important with regard to the perceptions of the men and their possibilities of seeing combat duty. Coster also writes of the relationships between the AFS and French field commanders to which the units were attached. The so called, "Thanksgiving Revolution" is described, as well as the conditions of the Alsatian campaign of 1944 which was very much like that faced by A.F.S. Section 3 in the First World War. Coster indicates his dislike for the New York Headquarters decision not to have an A.F.S. liaison officer in Paris which was turned down due to expense. He writes of the difficulties of Captain Dunbar Hinrichs in this regard and his own major disagreement with Galatti over this issue.

In all, there were four A.F.S. sections working with the French across the Rhine when peace came to Europe. 7 Croix de Guerre were awarded to A.F.S. men serving with French formations.

Coster's recommendations concerning the relationship of the A.F.S. with the American Army in any future wars in which the Field Service might find itself are found in his account.

Jeremy Addoms, "Section I Diary Notes, October, 1944"

There is a description here of the attack in which Addoms was blown out of his ambulance and driver William B. Eberhard was wounded by shell fragments near Cornimont.

Public Relations Correspondence

This concerns descriptions of A.F.S. actions in the last days of the war, and the meeting of A.F.S. sections from Italy and those in Germany meeting at the Brenner Pass.

William Whitehead, "Account of Section 3, French Unit Attached to 4th Co., 8th Medical Battalion , 4th Morroccan Division, January 29, 1945 --- July 7, 1945".

This is Whitehead's description of the last phases of the war in Alsace and the move into Germany by A.F.S. Units. There is an account of the destruction of the German town of Freudenstadt by the Morroccans, and the final phases of the campaign in Germany ending in the armistice and repatriation.

 

WILLIAM HANNA --- GEORGE ROCK
AFS HISTORY CORRESPONDENCE
FRENCH SECTION IN 1943,
OCT. 2, 1954 --- MAY 11, 1955

Included are requests for historical information about the AFS FFC unit as well as information on deaths in action. There is a Hanna letter to George Rock indicating that he had written to De Gaulle concerning the rule of AFS in the war and mentioning the deaths of AFS commanding officers in Africa and Middle East, Alan Stuyvesant and Tom Greenough both of whom died in 1952. William Hanna's account of "The Thanksgiving Revolution" and the attempt to push Major Coster out to get more front line action is described. Hanna also writes that he is sending his diary to Rock to set the record straight on the "much wronged and misunderstood Tom Greenough, as he is no longer here to do it himself". There are comments about the French and their appreciation of the United States, or lack of it, which reflects the prevailing temperament of 1955 and Gaullism, but also the fact that Rock, who was part of Cairo headquarters during the war, knew of the problems AFS was having with the French of which men in the field were unaware. The distrust, bitterness, and even hatred for headquarters comes out in this correspondence. There is much in the way of personal feelings about men and events from a drivers point of view. Included is Hanna's translation of "The War Memories of General De Gaulle" in Paris-Match Oct. '54. These are De Gaulle's complete accounts of French fighting in the Battles of Bir Hacheim and afterwards.

 

SUB GROUP #2
AFS WITH THE FREE FRENCH FORCES 1940-1945

AFS-FIRST FRENCH ARMY EUROPE ADMINISTRATIVE SERIES, 1944-1945

French Unit Section Diaries, January-May, 1945 contains weekly accounts of section movements, areas in which sections operated, and an estimate of the number of patients carried. There is also material found in the diaries on rations, repairs, health of drivers, and accidents.

Section II Correspondence, February 6, 1945 --- May 23, 1945, is basically administrative material between Major C. H. Coster and Lt. C. B. Alexander up to the time that Lt. Alexander was killed in action in early April, 1945. There is a letter from Commandant Massequin, French Army, concerning the events surrounding Alexander's death, and Major Coster's letter to Mrs. Alexander informing her. There is also correspondence concerning the death of AFS driver, Jack Douthitt.

Section III Correspondence, January 5, 1945 --- May 29, 1945, contains Major Coster correspondence with Lt. Warren Fugitt on the subject of turning over ambulances at the end of hostilities and making plans for the repatriation of the men at assembly points at Rottweil and Baden-Baden.

AFS Ordres de Movements, June 25, 1944 --- July 3, 1945, this material contains documents establishing new French sections of the AFS, as well as Major Coster's appointment, with his orders and authority for commanding the French Unit. There are orders forbidding carrying of weapons, authorization for badges of rank, and motor vehicle maintenance records.

Financial Correspondence of the French Unit, September 18, 1944 --- May 31, 1945, is composed of considerable correspondence of administrative importance between Major Coster and Lillian Gordon in the AFS New York office.

Ambulance Correspondence, December 11, 1943 --- June 8, 1945, there is much material here on ambulance loans, condition, and needs from the service of the AFS with the Free French in North Africa. There is an agreement of a loan of 25 ambulances to the Free French Command from December 11, 1943, as well as French correspondence with the AFS on a French request for the AFS to equip a new ambulance section. There is correspondence from James V. Sparks, American Volunteer Ambulance Corps, to Stephen Galatti, indicating a desire to help the French by turning over A.V.A.C. ambulances to the jurisdiction of the AFS, and the fact that Alan Muhr of the World War I Field Service was then a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. There is Galatti correspondence concerning the fact that AFS French Unit, 1940 ambulances were turned over to the Red Cross in 1940 and then to the Secours Nationale, and the possibility of using them in 1945, if any could be found in France.

Personnel Correspondence, January 27, 1944 --- June 6, 1944, contains Coster correspondence on the AFS decision to field a new French Unit, and whether or not this Unit would siphon off men from AFS units serving in Burma or the Central Mediterranean. There is considerable Coster correspondence on the subject of recruitment of men for the new Unit, and the formation of a headquarters staff. This material also contains Lt. Alexander's report on the mental condition of driver Gregory Wait. Aspirant Jeremy Addoms' report on the transit of the AFS French Unit from Oran in North Africa to France in August and September, 1944, can be found here, as well as Addoms' report of the heavy shelling of his section on the night of October 17, in France.

Service de Santé correspondence, August 21, 1944 --- May 25, 1945, contains French language correspondence on the subject of formation of AFS sections to serve the French, and Coster correspondence regarding the AFS donation of a surgical ambulance and a mobile dental unit. There is material on the sending of the second AF5 section to France and General Guirriec's letter to Galatti thanking him for it.

Tables of Organization, 1944-1945, holds valuable material on the organization of the AFS with the French Army, a Geneva ID card, equipment lists, and a table of organization of a French medical battalion in 1943.

Statistical Lists, August 1, 1944 --- June 15, 1945 contains lists of AFS men of the French Unit by sections, and headquarters staff lists by function and by rank.

Transportation Correspondence, December 14, 1944 --- June 11, 1945 is largely composed of AFS French Unit Headquarters correspondence with French Army supply officers requesting staff cars, jeeps and auto supplies. There is a letter from Major Coster to Lt. Guy of January 26, 1945, giving the history of the AFS with the French since the beginning of the war.


Record Group #2, continued