Ambulance on a training course at the May-en-Multien training camp. June 1917. 1_002_1B_11, RG1/002: AFS World War I Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives.) This image cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission from the AFS Archives.

During World War I, many AFS ambulance drivers went to the May-en-Multien training camp, which was created to train incoming volunteers to handle and maneuver the ambulances (including dodging obstacles), in addition to learning about the French Army to which they would be attached. Twenty-year old ambulance driver David Annan practiced driving one of the two old Ford Model T ambulances on a training course, drilled for several hours each day, and studied French Army organization with fellow volunteers at the training camp.

The training camp was in a place formerly occupied by the Germans at the start of the war, and Annan walked out to explore the trenches and entanglements in his spare time. According to Annan, the trenches nearby extended “as far as one can see.”

The men were eager to see real action, however, and Annan expressed his frustration in his diary: “Our first month is up today, and outside of many interesting experiences, and lots of travelling, we have accomplished nothing.” The AFS volunteers’ free time was filled with swimming, visiting local villages, and playing pranks on one another.  All the activity and confined preparation led Annan to later declare: “it is hard to imagine we are at war.”

To read more about AFS World War I ambulance driver David Annan’s experience during the war, check out the Fall 2015 issue of the AFS Janus!

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