Tuesday, August 25, 2015

John Hale Chipman '19 Papers, 1917-1919

John Chipman's field artillery group photograph 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.

Chipman conducting repairs on his transport vehicleChipman 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.

Chipman playing a musical instrumentThe 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.

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