Many American college students crossed the Atlantic to volunteer in the war effort before the US had boots on the ground in France. From among these men, a group of Dartmouth students joined the American Field Service (AFS). Traditionally, these soldiers drove ambulances for the AFS, but some volunteered for a different path. Due to a shortage of munitions truck drivers at the front, the French Army requested American volunteers to join the French Army and drive these trucks. John Hale Chipman '19 and other Dartmouth students rose to this challenge and served the French Army for a six-month tour from June to November of 1917.
recorded this experience in a diary, which he sent home to his friends and
family. He later compiled a scrapbook of
his entire service, which included a tour in Italy driving ambulances for the
American Red Cross and then his training as an artillery officer in the French
Foreign Legion. His final days of
service were spent in active duty as an officer of France in Belgium. Chipman represents a unique story of
Dartmouth. His well-documented diary and
photos give a detailed glimpse into one Dartmouth man’s war experience.
diary, in which he wrote almost every day of his first six-month tour, details
his complete routine. Included in his
notes are morning calls that turned into 14-hour shifts of driving to combat
zones, but also lazy days spent at the local YMCA performing music with French
and American comrades. Chipman
endeavored to provide a complete picture of his war experience, a difficult
task given the circumstances, but one he completed with style. His scrapbook, which he compiled later, allows
the reader to look into the places and people of war-torn France and
Italy through the eye of a young American. Included are: pictures of massive German artillery pieces, photos of POW's, a dashing picture
of Chipman in his French officer's uniform with fellow Dartmouth grads, and some
very touristy photos of famous Italian sites taken on leave. Chipman's complete records certainly provide
an experience in itself for any reader, well worth the time it takes to read
every word and look at every photo.
To see John Chipman's diary and photo album, ask for MS-1229 at Rauner. To read a selection of his diary online, visit Dartmouth College Library's Library Muse blog.
Posted for Jake (Lewis) Lee '16, HIST 62 class.