Ambulance to the Front! chronicles the life of my grandfather, Albert William Gentner, and his participation in World War One. He left Harvard Law School in 1917 to volunteer and become an ambulance driver in the United States Army Ambulance Service (U.S.A.A.S.) Along with 44 of his fellow Harvard men, he trained down at Camp Crane in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to prepare for Front Line deployment with the French Army. As John R. Smucker wrote in his book chronicling the U.S.A.A.S., “Remember that at that time we were leaving home for ‘France in six weeks,’ that the average life of an ambulance driver was 14 to 33 days, that the targets on German rifle ranges were Red Crosses. Yes—it was grief and tears when ‘our boys’ went off to war.”
The French Government had asked that America “undertake, as far as possible, the responsibility of caring for the wounded of the French Armies at the Front.” The volunteer enlistees of the new U.S.A.A.S. heeded their call! My story takes my grandfather, the son of an upholsterer in Portland, Oregon, into the crucible of World War One in the Argonne Forest and Verdun sectors of France! My completed research on my grandfather involved nearly 30 years of sleuthing to figure out what happened. The discovery of pictures and documents germane to my study were only recently uncovered, and this book is the fruition of that revelation!