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Août 1914 - Des touristes américains à Blâmont
Texte en langue anglaise

Le 13 juin 1914, Lyman B. Kendall quitte New-York avec sa femme, à destination de l’Europe, pour un voyage en automobile de trois mois. La guerre est déclarée le 3 août, et arrivés à Carlsbad, ils sont autorisés à aller à Nuremberg, où les autorités allemandes réquisitionnent leur automobile. Ils prennent le train pour Strasbourg, puis partis de Srasbourg pour Paris, ils sont arrêtés à Avricourt le 5 août 1914: dirigés vers la gare française, ils franchissent la frontière à pied, y louent une automobile puis une charrette à foin, et parviennent sur la grand place de Blâmont où ils passent la nuit avec leurs bagages. Au matin, Le baron Adrien de Turckheim, qui connaissait le couple depuis une course automobile Vanderbilt Cup, les y trouve, et les invite au clos Saint-Pierre, où ils vont séjourner plusieurs jours.
Le 6 août, ils sont témoins des premiers combats. Le 8 août, juste avant l’entrée de l’armée allemande dans Blâmont, le baron de Turckheim part en vélo vers Lunéville, tandis que l’état-major allemand investit le clos Saint-Pierre.
Selon le témoignage des touristes américains, après avoir été rendre quelques services dans un hôpital militaire à Repaix, leur service est signalé au prince de Wurtemberg qui leur obtient un laissez-passer pour Strasbourg dans un train rempli de blessés, puis d’y prendre une ligne directe jusqu’à Rotterdam. Un officier allemand, Philip Heimann de Cologne leur aurait prêté l’équivalent de 75 $.
La presse rapporte ensuite que le 7 septembre, le couple d’américains serait arrivé à Rotterdam et aurait pu s’embarquer pour l’Amérique.

Il reste cependant une incohérence de dates : car Blâmont est libéré par une attaque française dans la nuit du 14 au 15 août, et les otages de Blâmont (dont le maire), emmenés dans l’église de Gogney, sont libérés au matin du 15. Les touristes américains ne sont donc pas restés dix jours à Blâmont, mais ont été évacués par les Allemands au plus tard le 14 août, de sorte qu’ils n’ont pu bénéficier immédiatement de la libération par l’offensive française. Mais pourquoi leur aurait-il fallu trois semaines de transit entre Blâmont-Avricourt-Strasbourg-Rotterdam ?

The Sun
8 septembre 1914

Caught In Chateau Almost Between Firing Lines.
Mr and Mrs. Lyman B. Kendall of 520 Park avenue, who arrlved on the Rotterdam yesterday, told a graphic story of the battle between the German and French armies at Blamont. They took refuge In a chateau almost between the firing lines and finally escaped on a train carrying wounded.
Mr. and .Mrs, Kendall, their automobile confiscated, took a train from Strasburg for Paris. The train was stopped at Avrlcourt on the French border. From there they hired an automobile and then a hay wagon and got as far as Blamont, where they spent the night in the public square in a drizzling rain.
"At this crisis." said Mr. Kendall, “Baron de Turckheim saw us and Invited us to his chateau just outside of Blamont, where our host, the Baroness, my wife and myself and one aged servant
were marooned for ten days while the battle raged about us.”
The battle commenced on the day after Mr. Kendall and his wife went to the chateau. From their retreat they could see the smoke and hear the booming of the cannon. This was on August 6. The battle kept coming nearer and they were finally obliged to take refuge in the cellar.
The German attack became so strong that the Baron made his escape on a bicycle and left Mr. Kendall in charge. On the night of August 10 there was a sound if breaking glass on the second floor,
and Mr. and Mrs. Kendall found the lance of a uhlan sticking through the window. They opened the door and admitted fifty uhlans, who searched them and the chateau.-
The fighting was now so close that they could see troopers, who has been hit by bullet, falling from their horses. This continued for four days and they lived most of the time In the cellar, eating crusts of bread and rice.
"As soon as the Germans took Blamont the General commanding the first Bavarian army corps made his headquarters at the chateau." said Mr. Kendall. "We were treated courteously, but we were not allowed to leave the grounds. One officer told us there were 2,000 German dead and 8.000 wounded In the few day of fighting.
“French aeroplanes would appear just after daybreak ans scout about over our heads. German sharpshooters hit one aviator in the shoulder and he fell and was killed. There was a German wireless station near the chateau and we learned that the French were planning a strong counter attack.”
Philip Heinmann of Cologne, a Lleutenant in the Fifteenth Uhlans, lent Mr. and Mrs. Kendall $75 and finally got a passport for them. They got out on a military train filled with wounded and dead.

On retrouve le même article dans :

  • The Fairport Herald 18 septembre 1914

  • The Palatka news and advertiser. [volume], 16 octobre 1914

  • The Brattleboro daily reformer., 24 septembre 1914

  • Iowa County democrat. [volume], 24 septembre 1914

  • Bridgeton pioneer., 17 septembre 1914

  • The Laramie Republican., 17 septembre 1914

  • The Birmingham age-herald. [volume], 10 septembre 1914

The Shepherdstown register
17 septembre 1914

They Were In a Battle

Caught between the lines of the French and German armies in Alsace, forced to take refuge in a cellar from the rain of shrapnel as battle was joined, and finally escaping to Holland through the German lines by the personal intercession of the German commander, Mr. and Mrs. L. B. Kendall, of 520 Park avenue, who arrived yesterday morning on the Holland-America liner Rotterdam, brought the most
thrilling story of any Americans from Europe.
"We were motoring through Germany," said Mrs. Kendall, "and had reached Carlsbad when news came that the Kaiser had ordered all troops to the colors. We were allowed to go to Nuremberg, where our machine was commandeered. By advice of police officials we took train for Paris August 1. The advice was bad. At the little frontier town of Avricourt we were ordered to disembark. Although
the town was filled with German soldiers we were permitted to start across the frontier on foot, carrying our trunks by short stages. On the French side we got a wheelbarrow for our trunks and
pushed on to Blamont. Eight other Americans were there, but they all set out to walk to Luneville, 30 miles away. We never heard of them.
"Blamont was in panic and no one would take us indoors, although it rained. We spent the night shivering on our trunks. In the morning the mayor of the village rescued us. He was Baron de Turckheim, and we had met him at a Vanderbilt cup race some years ago. He took us to his chateau and tried to find some way to get us to a railway station, but all horses had been commandeered
for the army.
"On the morning of August 4 we saw moving things like gray-green caterpillars creeping out of the woods to the north. Presently they melted into long, thin lines and began to move forward. Then, on the opposite side of the chateau, we saw similar lines, taking interval in the same way, only these were blue and much more conspicuous. Then, from the woods behind, came white puffs of smoke, and a second later the reports of cannon from the German lines. We had been so fascinated that we hadn't realized our own position, but we realized these reports came from German artillery opening
fire and the white balls of smoke were shrapnel bursts. As the French guns replied we began to lose interest in the spectacle. We went down cellar.
"We remained in the cellar most of four days, for although the French fell back so we weren't in the direct line, we could hear the boom of guns and the rattle of rifle fire in the distance. There were only the five of us, for the servants had run away. The Baroness persuaded her husband to flee, as he had got the personal enmity of several German officers. He rode away in the night on a bicycle. That same evening three women and one man of our party were at the dining table when a crash of glass came and we saw the head of a Uhlan's lance, which he had thrust through the window by way of a doorbell. We opened the door, and in trooped several cavalrymen, followed by officers. They were very courteous, and after we had cooked them a dinner, we ate together in the most friendly way.
"I volunteered as a nurse in the field hospital. Our friends gave us a pass to Rupais and an escort. But we found ourselves once more between the firing lines. That was a dreadful journey. I don't think I'll ever forget the whine of the shrapnel and the'whit-whit' of bullets overhead, or the shell-torn bodies
that lay here and there beside the road.
After we arrived at Rupais I went into the hospital. It was terrible to see the fine young fellows brought in, dirty, exhausted and wounded. I did what I could to help them; it was little enough,
but my services were brought to the attention of the Prince ot Wurtemburg, who commanded the German army in the neighborhood.
"The Prince wrote us, with his own hand, a pass through the lines and gave us an escort to Strassburg. From there we had no trouble going to Rotterdam. In every difficulty that pass was a perfect spell in securing us anything we might desire." - New York World.
Mr. Lyman B. Kendall, who is referred to in the above interesting sketch, is a nephew of Mrs. A. S. Reynolds, formerly of Shepherdstown.


The Christian Herald
23 septembre 1914


The little village of Blamont. near Avricourt, France, lay bathed in the calm hot sunlight of August a few weeks ago. The grain was almost ripe for harvesting ; the millers were busy grinding flour for the bread, and the bakers baking it. Then came the call to mobilization, and the men of Blamont went away down the road, while the women did their part to fill the gaps left in their midst, happy in the thought that they bad given their loved ones to their country. Little knew they what wag before them !
One morning early came the soldiers, riding over the hills. Blamont and the surrounding town-were in the track of the invasion ! Soldiers came thicker and thicker, melting into the landscape, yet covering all. They settled down on the village like a swarm of bees, demanding food, wine, fodder. Among the houses which had to answer their demand for food was the Castle, and in the castle was an American couple who were imprisoned there, who, having lost all they had and being unable to find even a horse to convey them away, were obliged to remain. The words of the woman, Mrs. L. B. Kendall, a New Yorker, used to luxury, but bearing bravely her discomforts, best describe her experience.
"In a few days," she said, "not only the adult men, but the boys and old men had disappeared from Blamont and the surrounding villages. Blamont became a place of women and there was no harvest to reap. Everything in the track of the invading army was trodden to bits, and what bad been garnered and stored was eaten by the troopers' horses in a few days: but in the fields you could see women about to become mothers, and old women, staggering under burdens that would have been heavy for a horse, as they went about collecting odds and ends and scraps to carry home. The carrots and turnips were dug up and eaten, the wine-cellars drained dry : for you know it is the rule of war to live on the enemy's country till it is exhausted, and not till then to begin to use the stores brought from home. My husband and I often said to each other : “When the soldiers are gone, what then?' for there was scarcely a morsel of food left in the place. The maire of the village was in captivity, and his wife, who was our hostess at the castle, assume his duty, doing her best to aid the distressed. She doled out the contents of a few bags of rice which she had - a handful at a time - while it lasted. I can see now those poor peasant women who came in their wooden sabots and aprons to take it home in their bowls ! These people can make a little go a long way. But famine was not the only thing to be dreaded ; the stench that came from the hundreds of unburied bodies lying everywhere grew to be unbearable even before we left. Poor Blamont. What future is before her !
"The last few days of our stay we saw all about us the smoke of burning villages, and thousands of women and children from seven towns came to us, homeless as well as destitute. Still there is always so much that is good to look for ! The women whose babies came in this time of confusion and trouble were sheltered and cared for."
The foregoing description applies to great areas of Europe today. Villages burned, thousands left homeless, fields trampled, storehouses looted - this is war!
Do not think that the sufferings of war are confined to one country and that the invaded one. Germany, too, is a land of tears and mourning today. An American lady, Mrs. Ligschilder, wife of an Episcopal rector, staying with her husband in Munich, tells of what she saw there.
"It was very little," she said, "because I had my own three children to care for. But Munich was a manless city. In all the churches the women and children gathered twice a day to sing hymns ; one could hear the bells calling them at all times. The conscription in Germany was more severe than anywhere else, and the suffering which is endured by families whose breadwinners are taken from them is unspeakable.
"Near my home was a family consisting, before the war, of the husband, who was a carpenter, and three small children, aged three, five and seven. They seemed very happy in their little stucco house, surrounded with flowers and arbors. The youngest fell ill with scarlet fever. At the crisis, when the mother was already taxed to the uttermost, came the call to arms. Fritz must drop everything and go. The few marks he earned daily stopped. Moreover, he must have warm blankets and socks to take to the war. With the little money at their command these were bought and Fritz left. Then the baby grew worse, and there was no money to send for the doctor. Alas! the little one died, and the stores in the house were all used up before kind German neighbors discovered their plight.
"Don't think the suffering people are left uncared for by their own neighbors. On the contrary, all the women better provided with funds are banding together in towns and villages to do what they can. They knit socks, make clothing, and send baskets of eggs and butter to the destitute. I saw the most beautiful spirit all over Germany. There are no rich or poor any more - all help each other."
The writer knows of a family living in a German village, composed, before the war of an aged mother, two married sons and their wives, and a baby in each family. They were not living together, but were united by the close tie which binds a German household. Now, the sons are gone ; the aged mother has been taken care of by relatives and the two young mothers are absolutely destitute. They have relatives in America who may help them later. How many German eyes are turned towards America for aid ! With all that the government can do and all the kindnesses that neighbors can render, even to the limit of their own resources, there will still be countless cases of destitution like those cited above. Thousands of families will be rendered penniless as the "casualty lists" increase.
Edith A. Talbot


Rédaction : Thierry Meurant

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