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Barkley Diary of WWI 1918 Congressional Delegation sample entries

Pages 1-2

 

(transcription)

 

Saturday, Sept 14 We arose about as usual and at 8 o'clock acompanied

by Lt. Maltrot and Capt Cressou. We Started for the Belgian front at Dixmude. We passed through Furnes again then Alveringhem, Lamper- nisse and through a long walk over board walks, through mud and water we reached the front trenches, across the Yser Canal opposite Dixmunde. For half a mile we walked through them. the dis- tance from the front

 


Pages 3-4

 

live german trenches being just 25 yards or 75 feet. We could see through periscopes and observation points the German Trenches accross the canal. They could have thrown a hand grenade into us at any point for half a mile and doubtless would have done so had the known we were there. at this point we got a fine view of Dixmunde. Captured by the Germans 4

years ago and still in their possession. It was like all the rest a prosperous city of _______ people before the war but is now a total wreck, the black unsupported walls of the demolished buildings standing out like tombstones in a grave yard. On our way to this point we passed through the low in- undated fields which were formerly between the lines showing the


 pages 5-6

 

necessity of building the trenches above the level of the ground, instead of digging them below. We found the spirit and morale of the army excellent and felt no doubt of the courage and de- termination of the Belgians. On our way out, several Boche planes sailed out toward us and looked quite menacing but the Belgian anti aircraft

guns drove them back. The way back we passed the towns of Caeskaer where we had pictures and also Oued Cappelle, niew Cappele and Loo all destroyed or greatly damaged. In the afternoon we went to nieuport on the Belgian Coast a city of 10,000 people totally destroyed, not a single roof remaining. Here we had pictures taken

 


 

 pages 7-8

 

and spent more than an hour going through the ruined city. On our way here we were again subjected to shell fire. several shells bursting just off the roadside. We got out of our cars some distance away and walked into the town. While going through the ruined streets, no less than 300 shells passed over our heads. We could hear

the report of the German guns, the whistle of the shells and the report of their explosion. We realized the danger but were willing to take chances in order to see this further evidence of German ruthless- ness and vandalism. At 6:30 we were received by King Albert of Belgium. He was very cordial, very simple and expressed his great

 


 

pages 9-10

appreciation of what America had done for Belgium and his astonishment of what we had done in supplying men and material since entering the war. We told him America was deter- mined to see that Belgium is restored for which he thanked us. I expressed the hope that he would visit America after the war and he expressed a great

desire to do so if possible. Altogether the interview was very pleasant, and we got a very fine impression of the simplicity and sincerity of the belgian king. He is about 6 ft 4 inches tall, straight with large head and good face. We were accompanied by Capt Cresson + Maj Le Duc We thus started to Calais in motors

 


 

pages 11-12

 

where we spent the night. The drive was made in about 2 hours on good road and in the dark. We had a good dinner about 9 o'clock and re- tired to sleep in the city which Ger- many has for 4 years in vain to capture. Sunday Sept 15 Arose at 7 and had breakfast at 8: 55 we left

for Paris. We passed down the coast through boulogne and other cities and through Amiens the railroad center which the Germans sought and came so near taking in the drive of March 21st. We saw the usual evidence of their bombardment, but they were not able to get nearer than 8 or 9 miles of the place except with their long range

 


pages 13-14

 

guns. For perhaps 25 miles south of Amiens we passed along the British battle line showing trenches dug out battery implacements shell holes, cannon flash and every other evidence of recent warfare. It was here that the Germans were held and the Channel ports saved. It was here that the British were fighting when Haig and Lloyd

George made the famous statement we are fighting with our backs to the wall. That was literally true. The British and French are retaking in fact have retaken all the territory lost in that drive and have pierced the famous Hinden- burg line at many points. We reached Paris at 6 p.m. and retired early in contempla- tion of our trip to

 


pages 15-16

 

The French Front tomorrow, concern- ing which I re- cieved a letter of advice from Capt Wickes of our headquarters here in Paris.


 

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