A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 142

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FRANCE IN WARTIME


Officers and soldiers on leave soon became assiduous patrons of all pleasure resorts; the restaurants, thanks to them, resumed animation, and in concert halls, music halls, cinemas, steel-helmeted heads were undoubtedly the most numerous. During the entr’acte it was by no means a rare thing to see in the foyer of a theatre uniforms which bore traces of the campaign, and which the wearers had not troubled to change, so eager were they to profit without losing a moment by the three or four evenings which their leave put at their disposal. Officially, or through the intervention of various societies, special performances were periodically organized for the benefit and entertainment of wounded convalescents of the home army and of colonial troops. A good many of the provincial towns followed this example.

At the beginning of the war, during the long retreat to the Marne, grave anxiety had been felt concerning medical arrangements. The particularly murderous character of the battles, in which men were mown down by heavy artillery and machine guns, overtaxed the organization of ambulances both in the front and at the rear, and the removal of such an unforeseen number of wounded exacted efforts for which one was hardly prepared. In Parliament and in the press serious agitation was manifested, and in fact it was owing to his vigorous reproaches in this connection that M. Clemenceau was indebted for the suppression of his journal, L'Homme Libre, transformed, as we have seen, on the following day into L' Homme Enchainé.

When the Germans had been defeated, and operations on the front brought to a standstill, the reorganization of the medical service was most rapid, and it worked afterwards in such a way as to give general satisfaction. From the first it had been remarkably seconded by the admirable organization of the Red Cross. With branches reaching into the smallest towns of France, these societies had at disposal a body of volunteers, of ladies more or less instructed in the art of aid to the wounded. Since the outbreak of hostilities they were in a position to make use of more than 1,600 buildings—high schools, colleges, schools, large and small hotels, and private residences, where they installed in a few days more than 100,000 beds. From the Channel to the Pyrenees and the Riviera the women of France entered upon close rivalry of eager devotion to receive and attend to the countless maimed victims of that terrible carnage. A large

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