If walls could talk… The 15th Century church in the village of Bézu-le-Guéry would have stories to tell. In June 1918 it became an American field hospital—first for the 2nd Division and then for the 26th Division during the fighting around Belleau. Here is a moving quote from Cpl. William McGinnis, 102nd Field Artillery, 26th Division after being wounded by an artillery shell:
“I was placed on a stretcher and carried about three hundred meters to the rear, to a dressing station. The station was situated on the edge of a wood and there was a continual stream [of wounded] coming out of these woods to this point, awaiting ambulances. We were placed in the ambulances and started off, four in each car. One of the boys in the lower tier who was from the infantry and who had a fragment enter his stomach died in the ambulance before we reached the clearing station. This place was in an old church in a small village about eight kilometers from the front. Several operating tables were set up and the surgeons with aprons covered with blood were attending to the worst cases, mostly amputations. Here I was tagged for evacuation to a hospital. There were several hundred stretcher cases laid out on the floor. The yard surrounding the church was also full of men, with bandaged heads, arms and legs. The groans of the severely wounded were terrible to listen to and over the cries of agony could be heard the everlasting cry for water and cigarettes. I was getting weaker, owing to the fact that I was bleeding quite freely. I distinctly remember a peculiar buzzing sound in my ears; everything seemed to change color; I took one hasty glance at the corner [where the dead were being placed] and made one supreme effort to pull myself together, but failed and lapsed into unconsciousness.” (Halles, Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War 1, pp. 152-3.)
The church in Bézu-le-Guéry is one of the many places that we will be visiting during the April 2023 102nd Inf. Regt. and Yankee Division tour. Join us and get knee deep into New England history!