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Seven Receive Croix De Guerre; Germans Capture One Driver


The horrors of war, heroism under fire, gruelling work with sleepless nights, adventure, and love were part of the experiences of Harvard men in World War II, according to H. B. Willis '12, commanding officer of section one of the American Field Service on the French front.

Remarking that "people in this country don't realize there was a great deal of action," Willis yesterday praised the work of twenty Harvard men, seven of whom received the Croix de Guerre for their deeds as ambulance drivers.

John James '34 (son of William James,) and Lawrence Morgan, A.M. '16 arrived in Boston yesterday from France, and were honored last night at a dinner at the Tavern Club. James and Morgan together with Horace W. Fuller '30 were called on "to take over jobs which involved special risks and initiative. They were always successful in carrying out these extremely dangerous missions."

Fights After Separation

Alexander McElwain '21, who was with the American Field Service throughout the war, according to Willis, was caught in an especially bad bombardment at Beauvais. He was remarkably cool and efficient in rescuing wounded civilians under fire, but during the retreat of the French Army, McElwain became separated from the rest of the section. He joined another corps and did such excellent work for the that he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre.

John Clement '36 was one of four men in the American Field Service who were captured in the outskirts of Amiens, the second night that the section was on the front. Working between two French armies, he was caught by the German Army during the burning of Amiens. Extremely fortunate not to have been shot, because, according to Willis, German tank corps take no prisoners. "We found many men who had been shot in the back of the head," Willis commented.

Works for Germans

Clement was allowed to keep his ambulance and work in the German Army. Eventually he got back to Brussels and from there, with a diplomatic mission, to Switzerland, where he still remains.

"A. C. Burrage 3rd '42 was the youngest, hardest working of the group and did a swell job," Willis said. William Nickerson '31 saw service at Amiens, Beauvais, and on the Oise. He also became separted from his section, and joined the Versailles Hospital, where he did excellent work for the rest of the war.

Wendall Hastings '35 took a Red Cross First Aid course before going to France, which proved an invaluable asset, since often after a severe bombing the Americans were the first on the scene with no doctors within miles.

Finds Fiancee

Hastings, after the armistice, set out on foot to find his fiancee, a French girl, one person among the millions of terrified, hysterical refugees scattered over all of France. By a miracle, he met a person who had seen her and learned where she was. He has since married her and is now trying to get her out of the country back to America.

At the end of the war, the section went to Biarritz in occupied France, where the separated men rejoined their friends. Most of them then returned through Spain and Portugal to the United States.

Some of the members of the American Field Service organized a new Lafayette Escadrille. James and Willis received commissions in the French Air Service and had made all the final arrangements with the French Air Ministry when the armistice was signed.

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