Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day

One of the first pages in my collection, and one of the few I have framed. World War I ambulance drivers and nurses. This beautiful page sought to help children understand how a medical team worked on the front lines. 

The first world war generated great poetry and art; Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver and his WWI experience (he was wounded and fell in love with a nurse) shaped some of his early writing: "A Farewell to Arms" and the short story "Soldier's Home" come to mind, but there are others.

During the First World War, Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. In June 1918, while running a mobile canteen dispensing chocolate and cigarettes for soldiers, he was wounded by Austrian mortar fire. "Then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red," he recalled in a letter home. 
Despite his injuries, Hemingway carried a wounded Italian soldier to safety and was injured again by machine-gun fire. For his bravery, he received the Silver Medal of Valor from the Italian government—one of the first Americans so honored.
Commenting on this experience years later in Men at War, Hemingway wrote: "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. . . . Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you. After being severely wounded two weeks before my nineteenth birthday I had a bad time until I figured out that nothing could happen to me that had not happened to all men before me. Whatever I had to do men had always done. If they had done it then I could do it too and the best thing was not to worry about it."


  1. Oh my goodness this is wonderful.
    My granny was a nurse in WWI . I don't think she was every near the front but she was in France. Thank you for this. I hope think link will work so you can read what I wrote about her
    Not sure that's a link. Try my secondary blog and the post was from October 2014.

  2. The link works! Excellent piece of family history.