After nearly three years of writing and editing, a local read thru that brought more revisions, and a lot of rethinking and final revisions, I am pleased to announce that my script Clean Dry. Socks: Diary of a Doughboy will be produced this October 5-14 by River City Community Players. The performances will be at the Midlothian Campus of John Tyler Community College.
Put me down for a bundle of nerves and excitement.
More details as I have them.
On this day in 1915 in World War I history, Germany first makes large-scale use of poison gas in warfare in the Battle of Bolimów against Russia.
Some three years later, my grandfather was hit with poison gas. He barely survived and lost a lung in the process.
The following is an excerpt from my script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy, based on my grandfather’s World War I diary.
Both mustard and phosgene gases were used at Meuse-Argonne, one causing internal and external blisters. The other had soldiers coughing up pieces of their lungs.
The night of September 28th and 29th were the most disagreeable I had ever spent in my life.
It rained all night and a very cold wind blew. Shells were falling everywhere. As we were coming out of the trenches just east of Montfaucon we received orders to go in support of the 79th division just north of Bois de Montfaucon. We pulled over in a field to prepare supper. Jerry had a good observation and sent over lots of shells.
Some of the shells made a direct hit on a hospital nearby and some landed in the field where we were.
In her commentary my aunt wrote:
Although my father’s diary makes no note of it, this was the time he was gassed. I’m certain that he was wearing his gas mask, otherwise he would have had even more serious complications.
Still the masks were not too effective and were crudely made. They consisted of a pair of goggles with a nose cone attached from which protruded a hose that connected to a metal canister. The idea was to recycle the wearer’s own breath and since their oxygen was soon used up they sometimes had no recourse but to snatch the mask off and many of them were blinded, or even killed.
My grandfather survived, but thousands didn’t. Those who did survive had their live changed forever.
The “Big Four” at Versailles peace treaty, 1919. From left, Lloyd George (Britain), Emanuele Orlando (Italy), Georges Clemenceau (France), and Woodrow Wilson (United States).
On December 4, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for Versailles for the World War I peace talks. Wilson was the first U.S. President to travel to Europe while in office. The world was changing.
The world continued to change after World War I with the types of warfare and weapons used. Airplanes were used for the first time during this war. Poisonous gas killed many and destroyed many more.
While Wilson traveled to Versailles, my grandfather was in a hospital in a different part of France recovering from his contact with mustard gas. His world was changing as well.
In reality, we are still seeing the results of that war. While it was supposed to be the War to End all Wars, it was far from it, and it set in place conflicts that would shape the course of the century to come.
It’s important that we recognized that history. It’s important that we tell those stories.
That’s what I’m trying to do with Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy.
More to come…