WWI: Snapshots and Snippets

New York, Dec. 7. — There is no happier woman in the metropolis today than Mrs. Margaret O’Brien, mother of Lieutenant Patrick O’Brien, American member of the British Royal Flying corps. She is expecting her son any day to tell her with his own lips the story of his miraculous escapes, first from death when his airplane dropped 8,000 feet to a point behind the German lines and then from the train which was bearing him to a German prison camp after he got out of a German hospital.

Mrs. O’Brien has had a short telegram saying the airman was safe in England and was coming home to join the American air forces.

O’Brien, flying over the German lines August 17, engaged four enemy flyers. He dropped one of them before he received a bullet in the hip and his plane was disabled. When he became conscious after his fall he was in a German hospital. His fellow flyers had posted him as missing and given him up for dead.

He was put aboard a train with other prisoners to be transported to a prison camp, but leaped off the train while it was going 30 miles an hour.

By walking at night, swimming rivers and eating such foods as he could find in the fields he reached the Dutch frontier to find himself barred in by wide entanglements of charged wire. He went back into a forest, built himself a bridge of branches and at night threw his bridge over the entanglements. As he was crossing, the bridge gave way and O’Brien received a shock he will never forget. He dug his way under the entanglements with his hands and walked through Holland to a boat for England.

Seventy-two days elapsed from the day he was dropped by the bosche airmen until he set foot in England.

St. Petersburg Daily Times – Dec 8, 1917

It is Col. Gardner now. He was representative from Massachusetts and fought for preparedness. Soon after declaration of war, he resigned his seat in congress and enlisted as colonel in the officer’s reserve corps.

The Pittsburgh Press – May 31, 1917

Sadly, Major Augustus Peabody Gardner (he was promoted) died of pneumonia before making it to the front lines. NYT obituary: PDF LINK

A 2009 article about the sad shape of the Gardner Auditorium in Massachusetts can be found at BOSTON.COM

“Captain” Stark as Mrs. Stark is called by the band of fearless Florida girls she heads, is a sister of Hoffman Philip, new U.S. minister to Columbia. The girls, armed with rifles and automatics patrol the east coast of Florida in the vicinity of Mayport in search of pro-German activities.

The Evening Independent – Apr 22, 1918

The Red Cross

The Crimson Cross.

Outside the ancient city’s gate
Upon Golgotha’s crest
Three crosses stretched their empty arms,
Etched dark against the west.
Blood from nail-pierced hands and feet
And tortured thorn-crowned head
And thrust of hatred’s savage spear
Had stained one dark cross red.
Emblem of shame and pain and death
It stood beside the way,
But sign of love and hope and life
We lift it high today.

Where horror grips the stoutest heart,
Where bursting shells shriek high,
Where human bodies shrapnel scourged
By thousands suffering lie;
Threading the shambles of despair,
Mid agony and strife,
Come fleeting messengers who wear
The crimson cross of life.
To friend and foe alike they give
Their strength and healing skill,
For those who wear the crimson cross
Must “do the Master’s will.”

Can we so safely sheltered here,
Refuse to do our part?
When some who wear the crimson cross
Are giving life and heart
To succor those who bear our flag,
Who die that we might live —
Shall we accept their sacrifice
And then refuse to give?
Ah, no! Our debt to God and man
We can, we will fulfill,
We, who wear the crimson cross,
Must “do the Master’s will.”

— By Elizabeth Brown Due Bridge, in Sault Ste Marie (Mich.) Daily News.

St. Petersburg Daily Times – Dec 7, 1917

Posts about  WWI canteen workers:

Diary of a WWI Canteen Worker

Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank

The Average New Yorker Becomes a Canteen Worker

From Soldier’s Mother to Canteen Worker

The Boy Enlists.

His mother’s eyes are saddened, and her cheeks are stained with tears,
and I’m facing now the struggle that I’ve dreaded thru the years;
For the boy that was our baby has been changed into a man.
He’s enlisted in the army as a true American.

He held her a moment in his arms before he spoke,
And I watched him as he kissed her, and it seemed to me I’d choke,
For I knew just what was coming, and I knew just what he’d done!
Another little mother had a soldier for a son.

When we’d pulled ourselves together, and the first quick tears had dried,
We could see his eyes were blazing with the fire of manly pride;
we could see his head was higher then it ever was before,
For we had a man to cherish, and our baby was no more.

Oh, I don’t know how to say it! With the sorrow comes the joy
That there isn’t any coward in the make-up of our boy.
And with pride our hearts are swelling tho with grief they’re also hit,
For the boy that was our baby has stepped forth to do his bit.

The Carroll Herald – May 30, 1917

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