As this happened to be the first day of General Foch’s great attack in which he pushed the 메이저토토 Germans back six miles, General Pershing, who had been at the front all day, had not yet returned, and General Bundy and I walked through the grounds in the lovely evening twilight for perhaps half an hour, when a motor-car drove up and our great commander-in-chief, accompanied by his aide, immediately came over to us and made us welcome in hearty and simple fashion. He reminded me that we had met at the Presidio in San Francisco during the great exhibition of 1915, and indeed I remembered it well, for shortly afterward he had been sent to the Mexican border in command of the troops, and while there had been overwhelmed by the terrible tragedy of the death of his wife and children, who were suffocated in a fire at night which destroyed their home at the Presidio.
So much has been written regarding the wonderful impression which General Pershing made in Europe on all who came in contact with him that it is not necessary for me to more than echo the general chorus of praise—soldierly, dignified, courteous, and simple in his bearing, wearing a uniform as only a man can who has been a soldier all his life.
We entered the house and shortly after sat down to dinner. The party consisted of the commander-in-chief, General Bundy, and a most delightful staff of eight officers—I being the only civilian. As such I expected and half hoped that the talk would be all about the wonderful success of the first day’s push by Foch, of which I had already heard enthusiastic rumors in the town, or of great military secrets, affairs of strategy, monster guns, thousands of airplanes, and new, mysterious machines of destruction. But, to my surprise, the conversation during almost the entire dinner was of music, of its influence in raising the spirits of the soldier, in giving him the right kind of recreation and the necessary relief from the monotony of camp work or the horrors of battle. General Pershing told me that after hearing some of the crack military bands of France and England he had been so overwhelmed by the consciousness of our inferiority that he was eager to know if something could not be done to improve the general standard of our army bands, and, more particularly, whether it might not be possible at least to take out the best players from among the bands then in France and to form a headquarters band of superior excellence, led by the best bandmaster among them, and in this way form a model which the others could endeavor to copy. This suggestion seemed to me excellent, and I asked how many bandmasters there were at present in France, as I would like to examine them as to their fitness. General Pershing said, with a smile, that there were over two hundred, but this did not phase me and I agreed to examine them all, provided that proper arrangements could be made for a fitting test of their qualifications. Various plans for such an examination were discussed and General Pershing finally decided to send them all to Paris in batches of fifty every week, together with a military band which should be stationed there for the following four or five weeks, thus giving me abundant opportunity to test their efficiency in conducting as well as in harmony and orchestration. It seemed to me at the time remarkable that, in the midst of war and with all its many immediate necessities weighing upon him, General Pershing should have had the acumen to perceive the value of music in war time and to interest himself in its improvement.
As I sat there, the memory of the hollow-cheeked Bandmaster Tyler who had stood next to me at the Fourth of July parade in Paris suddenly came back. I thought to myself that here I was, the only civilian at the table, and that therefore I might say anything I pleased without being put up against a wall at sunrise and shot, for at the worst they could only consider me as very ignorant of army customs. Therefore I watched for my opportunity and suddenly plunged in and spoke of my conversation with Bandmaster Tyler while we were waiting for our marines to march down the Champs-Élysées. I said that in my humble opinion it was a great mistake to use musicians as stretcher-bearers in battle, not that their lives as soldiers were any more valuable than those of any others in the army, but that a stretcher-bearer could be trained in a very short time while it took many months to train a bandsman; that the Canadian regiments had followed the same custom during the first months of the war, but the results had been so dire in destroying the bands and their usefulness, that the soldiers themselves had implored their commanding officers not to let their bandsmen be sacrificed in this way, as there was nothing so terrible as coming back after battle to a silent and therefore desolate camp. After I had finished my rather impassioned peroration, General Bundy and others heartily agreed with me, but General Pershing said nothing at all, and I felt that I had perhaps talked too much and mal à propos. But the following morning, as I was seated with Colonel Collins at general headquarters arranging the details of my examinations, he smilingly handed me an order from the commander-in-chief which had just arrived and which was to be sent to the division commanders, to the effect that “from now on bandsmen are not to be used any longer as stretcher-bearers except in cases of extreme military urgency.”
One of General Pershing’s remarks during the dinner is so characteristic that I repeat it here. He said: “When peace is declared and our bands march up Fifth Avenue I should like them to play so well that it will be another proof of the advantage of military training.” Subsequent developments and meetings with this interesting man further deepened the impression which he made upon me.
I returned to Paris and proceeded to make all necessary arrangements for the examinations of the two hundred bandmasters. Our army had leased a large hotel near the Bastille on the banks of the Seine, and a large room on the ground floor served admirably for my purpose. The band of the 329th infantry soon arrived and was quartered in this hotel, and every morning at 9.30 the examinations began and continued from Monday to Thursday at the rate of about fifty bandmasters a week, who arrived from all quarters of France—from the seaport towns, from the training camps, and some even from the very front line of the trenches. Fridays I would usually return to headquarters and report on my findings and begin recommendations, which gradually assumed greater and greater proportions as the magnitude of the work developed.