The band

And for this Tuesday, I propose you this nice pic of a US Army band, ready to some (informal as far as I can see) concert in the little village of Tréveray (Meuse, France), around 1917-1918… En avant la musique !



One thought on “The band

  1. This is an excerpt from an article written by the conductor Walter Damrosch for The Etude music magazine in March, 1920. He had been approached by General Pershing about improving the American army bands which Pershing thought were inferior to the British and French military bands. In 1918 there were about 200 US Army bands in France, typically with 28 bandsmen for each battalion.

    “It is an old American army custom to send bandsmen to the front in time of battle as stretcher bearers with no weapons and with only Red Cross bands around their arms, which alas in only too many instances proved no protection whatever from the unscrupulous enemy. This bandmaster told me that he had trained a band of twenty eight men in America and had taken them overseas where they had done a great work in inspiring the regiment and keeping up the morale. They had a distinct and valuable service to perform which none of the other men in the regiment could do. They were the spirit of the men, the pep, the mental relief, in fact so many things that only the soldier can tell you what they are. These bandsmen had gone through months of special training to do one specific thing.”

    “Yet at the battle of Seicheprey they were sent to the front as stretcher bearers. Of the twenty eight, nine were killed outright, two were wounded, two were shell shocked, and the band was thus put out of commission and months of valuable training were wasted. That these men did a noble thing in the service of their country, that they made the supreme sacrifice, entitles them to an immortal place, but at the same time there were thousands of other men who were deprived entirely of music because of this. The camp became a cheerless silent camp and men deprived of music to which they had been accustomed every day felt the need woefully.” …

    Besides playing music. these band musicians also served as stretcher bearers on the battlefield in very dangerous and risky conditions. This was true of all military bands in WW1 which suffered very high casualty rates.

    I remain astonished at the many wonderful photos taken in Tréveray. They have such a special personal quality, I hope you don’t mind my connecting this other story of the war to your photo.

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