Remembering World War I A letter home from Miss Herring, Celebration of the Armistice

From The Sampson Democrat, 1918

Camp Hospital 53, France, November 12th, 1918

My dear Lill: Probably by time you receive this you will have heard something as to when we begin to march toward home. I suppose that our celebrations in France yesterday were as nothing compared to those in the States. The people at home must be wild with joy! You should see and hear them over here.

Yesterday as soon as the bulletin appeared saying Germany had signed up and the Kaiser was down for sure, the noise began. The streets were thronged all day. Last night the three nurses and five of our officers went down to see the crowd. No special program – but small crowds of men and women would form themselves into a parade – get flags and proceed to march up the middle of the street, singing and yelling. Every few minutes some soldier would begin to dance, another would join in and on until there’d be four or a dozen dancing like wild on the street. Strange to say, all cafes were closed, so they were very orderly for a street throng.

In front of one of the hotels a U. S. Negro and a French soldier went up a lamp post and put up a few flags – Old Glory on top. The soldiers all took the liberty of catching any girl, embracing her and giving her a kiss – only slight struggles – they never object to being made love to it seems.

At nine o’clock we went to a movie place, a beautiful little theatre – Battle scenes of Lille were shown first. Then the orchestra played all the allied national hymns, and then two French soldiers came on the stage with a huge French flag, and one of them sang the Marseillaise. He had a glorious voice and we all went wild along with the French. There was an intermission then and a real picture afterwards. We had to walk home – reaching here at 11:50 p.m. The street cars stop running at 9:30. Pictures never begin until 9 p.m. You can’t beat the French on being slow; tomorrow will always do for them.

Of course, some of us realize that there is no warfare on the front today – no more sending our men to the trenches! Everything here is so peaceful anyway. The sun is shining today and the sky is so clear. The Colonel of this base is giving us a little party at their apartments tomorrow evening and we will celebrate on our own account. I have no idea when I’ll start home – some think it may be a year. The hospitals will be one of the last things to break camp.

But I’m quite content here. Everyone is so nice. Only four nurses, eight doctors, and we get on so well together. Not much hard work. Will write again as soon as I have any news, or will cable if I go suddenly. Some of you must meet me in New York.

Affectionately, Mary