September 11, 1918 – Toul, 25 kms from the front

One hundred years ago today, September 11, 1918, the 301st arrived in the city of Toul, France.  They were now only 25 kilometers from the front.

At noon of Sept. 11, we found ourselves in Toul.  The rainy season had begun some weeks previous, and that day was cold and wet and dismal with the streets covered inches deep with mud.  Through the downpour we marched to a huge French barracks; there we got a bite to eat, received our full supply of ammunition and were told to adjust our gas masks.

Perhaps it was the wet weather, the incessant rain and the ever present mud, but, whatever the reason, it had a depressing effect on us.  We realized that for us the curtain that draped the world’s greatest tragedy, was being drawn apart; we knew that before many hours we should be traversing a path beset by dangers, a path that led – God knows where!  The impending danger , the uncertainty of the moment, when no one of is could say that he would see again that distant home whose atmosphere was so different from that of our present surroundings, where all that we held dear in life remained, and grew dearer still in this our dark hour – all these things weighed heavily upon us and we will confess that our poor knees wobbled a bit occasionally.

– Our Memoirs

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