Ambulance Driver

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Ambulance Driver

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From internal evidence in the text, the diary's writer was apparently an ambulance driver with the American Field Service ambulance service, Section Two, based in Pont-a-Mousson, France during the early part of World War I. Volunteers from several countries provided ambulance service for the French Army before the United States entered the war in 1917. The group with which this diarist served, the American Ambulance Field Service, was formed in April 1915 under A. Piatt Andrew as an auxiliary of the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly hospital, established in 1914 by wealthy Americans living in Paris. Becoming independent of the hospital about a year afterward, the service's name was shortened to the American Field Service. Section Two began service in the middle of April 1915, assigned to the Bois le Pretre region, quartered first at Dieulouard, then at Pont-a-Mousson. Section Two remained in this sector until February 1916, when it was moved to the Verdun sector.

The hospital is based in Dieulouard. It seems that, generally, the ambulance drivers would evacuate wounded combatants from the front only a short distance away, to the hospital at Dieulouard, then report to Pont-a-Mousson, where they were billeted in houses. Wounded could also be evacuated to the French railroad base at Belleville, for transport elsewhere.

Among other clues, his English grammar and spelling, as well as his use and spelling of French terms, indicates that he was probably well educated. He is also clearly interested in becoming an aviator and visits a French aviation field with a friend from the American Field Service on his time off.

Ambulance drivers who served first as volunteers in France seem to have transferred to other branches of the service, in several cases the Air Service, after serving in the American Field Service for possibly only a few months.

American Field Service. History of the American Field Service in France. 2 v. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920.
Buswell, Leslie. With the American Ambulance Field Service in France: Personal Letters of a Driver at the Front. S.l.: Printed only for private distribution, January 1916.
History of the American Field Service in France. 2 v. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920.


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