Saturday, February 6, 2010

In Passing, Remember (Continued)

In Passing, Remember Part 2


Here and there, numerous ruins of old pieces of wall, of cement paving covered with moss, the remains of smokestacks, etc...

Of numerous black thorns, eaten away by lichens, growing more and more, covering up little by little that which were these buildings.

At the beginning of the existence of this camp, some soldiers of the American Corps of Engineers came first, with little equipment -- Little by little the organization developed. -- The land was divided into squares and then were built many barracks with walls of brick, setting on floors of cement, covered with boards which were protected with tar paper. Many roads crossed the camp permitting access to the barracks and to the secondary services.

According to eyewitnesses having known this little military city (more than 45,000 people at the end of 1918!) the hospital had many blocks. Each block had around 25 barracks, placed in two rows. facing each other. Between each row were the refectories, the kitchens, the bath rooms and the w.c., the surgical block and the infirmary.

There was also a big recreation room where resident soldiers ( actors or professional comedians), singers, etc. gave their performances to entertain the convalescents. Also, the hospital was composed of many secondary hospitals. At the entrance were the general quarters - with the services of administration and the supply depots of every sort.

Evidently, militarily speaking, each block had a number in order. From the numbers 1 to 50, the blocks were housing the American Red Cross - the numbers under 50 belonged to the American states.

For this era, things were very modern. Electricity was created there, running water functioned marvelously and, moreover, in an area so dry and without natural advantages, all was quickly taken care of.

With their enormous technology, with machines and materials, the American builders went to acquire a water supply at more than six kilometers away, in the Allier River, just opposite the church of Mars-sur-Allier.

Fishermen who frequent the banks of the river could see still the wells which were dug and which still exist. The pumping station is there. The water was brought by underground ducts up to the end of the plateau to supply the camp. It was kept in reserve in an enormous water tower ( chateau d’eau), still held up by nine pillars made from the quarry of Moiry. On the facade bordering the road one can see the American insignia ( insignia of the American Corps of Engineers) fixed in the masonry.

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