In June 1917, Lloyd Walsh volunteered for duty in the American Field Service, and for three months, he served as an ambulance driver for Service Section 68 (S.S.U. 68), a unit that included a number of Amherst College students. When the United States entered the war later in the year, however, most AFS units were transferred to the American Expeditionary Forces or disbanded, and Walsh transferred to ambulance duty with the American Red Cross. He continued to serve with the Red Cross after war, stationed in Vienna, eventually rising to the rank of Captain.
The collection includes a thorough paper trail of Walsh's work as a volunteer with the AFS and Red Cross during and after the First World War, along with a capsule service record, correspondence, and news clippings that flesh out his experiences. Adding to the picture is Walsh's decorated Red Cross footlocker, three German helmets (including a Pickelhaube), his own helmet, an American Model 1917 trench knife, and two Hungarian posters.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Lloyd Walsh
Born on December 6, 1894, Lloyd Walsh was a student at Amherst College when the First World War reached a deadly new level in Europe. Along with many of his fellow students at Amherst and Massachusetts Agricultural College, Walsh felt the call to serve well before the U.S. entered the fray, and during the winter 1916-1917, he volunteered with the American Field Service to serve in the ambulance corps attached to the French Army, and by June 1917, he was assigned for duty with Section Sanitaire Unis 68 (SSU 68), an outfit comprised almost exclusively of young men from Amherst.
During the late summer 1917, Walsh's unit served on the front lines in France, where it frequently came under fire. With the American entry into the war in September 1917, Walsh chose to transfer into the American Red Cross (ARC), where he served as an ambulance driver. Stationed in Neufchateau, he helped ferry patients, supplies, and equipment between the front and hospitals and dressing stations in the rear and, while stationed in Paris in 1918, he witnessed some of the early air raids. Walsh received recognition during the summer 1918 for leading a convoy of fifteen ambulances under aircraft fire to evacuate the civilian population at Beauvais.
During the Second Battle of the Marne on July 21, 1918, after his commanding officer was wounded at Pierrefond, Walsh assumed command of his section. After tendering the wounded to Chantilly, Walsh accidentally drove to the front, where he was fired upon by a German plane, taking cover in a ditch under his ambulance. For his service, he won promotion to Second Lieutenant on July 26, 1918, and was put in command of a new section of fifteen ambulances at Chateau Thierry in August. He sustained minor wounds during a gas attack on August 2.
Following the Armistice, Walsh remained with the ARC in Europe. Placed in charge of transport at Tours on December 12, and promoted to 1st Lieutenant, he had charge of a crew of fifty mechanics and drivers and sixty ambulances. Awarded the American Field Service Medal on January 3, 1919, he was promoted to Captain during the spring. Ordered to Budapest in September, he helped escort Hungarian officials to Bucaherest to purchase gasoline and benzene for the Hungarian government and the American Red Cross, and for the next year, he served in "various capacities with the Commission to Austria and Hungary, American Red Cross," including operating as Transportation Officer for the Vienna Unit and courier for the Austrian Section of the Reparation Commission. In late July 1920, he resigned his commission to return home in the hope, he wrote, of earning more money. .
Although lacking personal correspondence, the Walsh collection includes a thorough paper trail of Capt. Lloyd E. Walsh's work as a volunteer with SSU 68 of the AFS and the ARC, along with a capsule service record, correspondence, and newsclippings that flesh out his experiences. The realia in the collection are noteworthy, including two Hungarian war-date propaganda posters, three German helmets (including a Pickelhaube), an American Model 1917 trench knife, and Walsh's own helmet and foot locker, the latter plastered with stickers from places he visited.
Among noteworthy items in the collection are the scripts for two plays put on by men in Walsh's command, ca.1919, and a letter of Aug 26, 1919, in which Walsh pieces together a precis of his time in the AFS and the ARC, and a series of letters and documents from December 1919 relating to his role escorting Hungarian officials to purchase gasoline and Benzene. Written in English, Hungarian, Romanian, and German, the letters are a telling hodgepodge of the difficulties of maneuvering through the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also intriguing are a letter from a German or Austrian man in September 1919 who claims to have invented an improved car part and who sought Walsh's assistance in obtaining an American patent and a letter from the the ARC informing Walsh that his mother had not heard from him and requesting that he write her as soon as possible.
Acquired from Dan Casavant, 1999.
Processed by Gregory Boczenowski, September 2008.
See also the Photograph album of Frederick V. Waugh (PH 026), who served with SSU 39.
Cite as: Lloyd Walsh Papers (MS 541). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.