Camp Devens - History - 4th Company, Infantry, Third Officers Training Camp, 1918
THE FOURTH CHRONICLE
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OUT of the pages of history : Homer, Locke, Hume, Goldsmith, O'Connor, Gulliver, Bryant, Hobbes, Field, Kingsley, Lansing, Nelson, Grant, Jordan from Jericho Center, MacCormick, Morse, and Bell, and a hundred more whose future is still before them. Literature, art, philosophy, science, diplomacy—the army and the navy, brilliantly represented for the defeat of the Kaiser and the distinction of the company. Was ever such a group unearthed before? We rise from the dirt of the trenches to doubt it.
Who among us appreciated the situation in those early days? In what a company and through what experiences ! Think it over. Two hundred and seventy-three hours in the first three days we stood in line together to eat off and wash off the dishes ; two hours and seventeen minutes each. Two thousand and forty signatures attest our literacy, and the blood of six hundred scratches of the arms sealed our friendship in the old Indian fashion.
Whatever the work of the first three days lacked in rapidity was offset by the speed of the next week. Some camps operate on schedule, but ours worked on running time.
Captain C. K. Clarke jumps naturally into the mind in this connection. A single day showed the need for action. The Captain has the rare faculty of convincing each man that he is under friendly but constant and personal scrutiny. Spiked shoes arrived on January 7th, and from that date every man in the company was "on his toes." The toes seemed about as mobile as a field train and as firm as roller skates on a corduroy road. But the sensation was vivid—"always on the alert." Nothing gets by.
Fame early began to mark her victims. Whitcomb was grace herself as a toboggan artist, but as a wire cutter he proved very dull, so our first hospital case developed. Then departed Measles Mayer, the man for whom the whole company went in mourning.
On the 19th began our weekly vaudeville performances. Have you forgotten Deane's apologetic introductions? "I hope you all, especially the officers, will appreciate that we have no time to prepare for these entertainments, and practically no equipment. Mr. Mosel will now entertain us with some Mental Gymnastics." And later, "everyone must do his part in these little shows of ours, even if he hasn't much talent. * * Candidate O'Connor will now sing." No lesser diplomat could have pulled out under it.
Then in the mechanical arts, grenade throwing, pipe fitting, and steam shovel operation. John Maeck, the genial Swede who could repair "anything that moves," and was straightway a lieutenant in the Tank service. How Lieutenant Steingardt did approve the grenadier form of Graves ! And our envy of Bryant, the man who could turn off a steam valve. Nothing escaped: "What's your name?" asked the Captain.
Curious indeed are the requisites of fame. "Bayonet fighters must have fierce mean faces," we were told,—and the next day our best bayoneteers were selected for special training.
In what direction did our genius lie? We couldn't all pass out the examination papers, nor sit on the front seat at conferences every time we shaved. The Harvard training in interrogation was without peer : "Candidate Spaulding desires to inquire whether the Captain really meant to say 'Thursday.' "
Many of us found fame on the drill field. Corporal Luerich's bold "Get out of the way of the company"; Hutchins, demonstrating the vast possibilities of the command "squad left,"—O'Connor's execution of "eyes right, march !" Dalton's discovery of inspection arms by the numbers in four counts. All these deserve a place in the records, and only the limitations of space prevent memorializing Newell's subtle gems.
McCusker as an Orderly Room visitor won even more fame than Taylor, and with far less practice.
American poetry will learn to recognize the period of the Quarantine. Songs appeared like the fatal rash, overnight. Maier, Abeel, Sargent and McCusker were very susceptible. J. R. Smith and Humphreys suffered from one short but very severe attack.
Guy Palmer appeared in official capacity as lecturer on First and Second Aid, and is said to have beaten Lieutenant Steingardt in a furious race up Hell Pond Hill.
Haasis was a genius, too. Early riser, geologist, and mustache grower—the man who could marry on thirty-three per. James, his exact opposite, in every respect. Dalton and Knight—for whom Taps was always late. Model husbands !
Details of construction gave distinction to Hamilton and O'Connor, to Cowan and Gulliver. And the Hebert exercises were a field of glory. Who can forget the day that Calkins had to the stunts, and forthwith went to the Base Hosp. Memory recalls, too, the marksmanship of Rice, who shot three hundred yards.
The sweet, rare smile of Jeffers. Long in need of a blouse he eyed each new one with the hopeful interest of a biologist. It might reproduce. How humbly we used to approach the sanctum of Sergeant Lewis. He was the man that taught us the theory of the supply office and drew pictures so well.
That reminds us that after all this really isn't much of a history. For it concerns the present. I need a pair of leggins, gloves and a shirt right now. The clocks were moved ahead today, and tomorrow morning we have to get up an hour earlier. You can't fool us in the army, for we and the milkmen will know the difference. Perhaps, as Captain Sidorowicz would say, "when you all get commissions" this will be history.
HARRISON M. FAYRE