Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mar-sur-Allier American Base Hospital, In Passing, Remember

American Hospital of Mars sur Allier

“In passing.......remember’’

Part 1


(I have translated the following article, written by M. Wilrich, a resident of Moiry, now deceased about the Mars-sur-Allier American Hospital which was published in La Montagne, a newspaper of the city of Nevers in France in 1968. The article, written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Armistice of the Great War of 1914-1918, tells the story of the huge hospital built near Nevers in 1918. Nevers is 14 kilometers north of Moiry, the hamlet where my mother, Rebecca DeVries (born Goethe), grew up. My father was a medic stationed at this Mars-sur-Allier American Hospital which encompassed the village of Saint Parize le Châtel as well as the hamlet of Moiry. It was there that my father, Charles De Vries, met my mother, Rebecca Goethe, giving this whole story a special relevance. I have entered photos and notes to M.Wilrich's article.



It was already fifty years since our American allies, entered into the war against Germany in 1917, came to create a military hospital in the countryside between the Loire and the Allier Rivers - Parize le Châtel - exactly at the place called “Les Gaillères’’ on the territory of the village of Saint-Parize-le Châtel - or more exactly, on the plateau of Saint Parize.

They chose this spot certainly because of the proximity to the National Route 7 and of the railroad line Paris-Nimes ( the line of the Bourbonnais from the time of the P.L.M. network.) -- permitting connections as rapid as possible with the front -- and also because of the great restful calm of our countryside then not at all busy as it is today.


Among all the people who come to the Motor-Stadium Jean-Behr, built some years ago on a part of the terrain there where existed, a half century ago, the American Hospital, few know its history.

Thanks to numerous memories collected from people having known or even worked as civilian workers, we can tell you its history.

When you come from Nevers, in the direction of Moulins-sur-Allier, having left the village of Magny-Cours on your right, you find, about one kilometer further, to the left a little road indicating the race track Jean-Behra and the Agricultural School.

(Note: this has changed since 1968. There is now the huge race track, Le Circuit de Magny Cours)

Straight and to the left of this road you see to the left some cultivated fields and to the right a large deserted expanse, wild, interspersed here and there with cultivation but where dominates in great abundance dense thickets of black thorns, of moss, of lichen and of wild grasses, scarcely a place to nourish sheep.

The part the most interesting of the placement of this military hospital is included in a vast triangle having for a base the route national 7 and the two sides delimited on the left side by the road Magny-Cours/Saint-Parize-le Châtel, and, from the other side, by the road Moiry/Saint Parize-le-Châtel. These two routes join at the west entrance of the last village at a place called, “La Croix’’ - not very far from the town hall of this town, of which we have already spoken of its church and its crypt, the sparkling water fountains, etc., etc...

In walking in this vast triangle, one finds many vestiges recalling that in this place lived some years some allied soldiers from across the Atlantic.

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