As much as the ravaged countryside (the former battlefields), the devastated cities of northern France were visible reminders of both French suffering and, as most saw it, German criminality.  The ruined cathedral at Rheims was one of three images, the others being Ypres Cloth Hall and the University Library at Louvain, which became international symbols of the destructiveness of German aggression and barbarism.  Woodrow Wilson, who visited Rheims on 26 January 1919, had been expected to make such a visit to show sympathy and support for his French allies.  It was “a trip that every Frenchman has been hoping he would make before he took part in deciding what was to be exacted from Germany for the devastation of Northern France”.[1]  So, Wilson’s visit, which was delayed long enough to worry and anger the French, was loaded with political significance.

At the beginning of the war, after the French armies retreated behind the Marne, the undefended city of Rheims fell into German hands on 4 September 1914.  Following First Marne, however, the French re-entered Rheims on 12-13 September.  There was fierce combat in the surrounding area, featuring, for example, the contests for Fort Brimont, which the Germans retained, and Fort de La Pompelle, which the French regained on 24 September.  The Germans held onto the high ground to the north and east, where they occupied seven of the eleven nineteenth century forts surrounding the city.  From these heights, beginning on 14 September, the Germans periodically shelled the city over the next four years.  The forts at “Brimont, Berru, Fresne and Nogent l’Abbesse, whose guns slowly destroyed Rheims, were, so to speak, her jailers for four years.”[2]

In one terrible night, 19 September 1914, the cathedral was hit by 25 shells, including incendiaries.  Scaffolding on the north tower caught fire, which rapidly spread to the whole structure and greatly damaged the cathedral and the archbishop’s palace.  The basic structure of the former survived, but its roof, statuary and windows, including the great rose window of the western end, were largely destroyed.  The cathedral was hit by an estimated 287 shells during the war (the last one on 5 October 1918), with the attacks in September 1914 and April 1917 particularly intensive and damaging.[3]  “A la fin de la guerre, la magnfique cathédrale n’était plus qu’un champ de ruines.”[4]

The city as a whole would suffer 1,051 days of bombardment, involving over 100,000 shells.  The bombardment of 19 September 1914 destroyed almost 35 acres of buildings.  In one spell, between 10 and 19 April 1917, about 20,000 shells hit the city and completed the destruction of the centre.[5]  In all, over 1,000 civilians perished, 8,600 houses were totally destroyed, almost 5,300 were badly damaged, and only about 60 remained habitable.[6]  Rheims was the first place that Margaret Hall visited after the armistice and, as she went there from her base at Châlons on 12 November 1918, she passed “through little villages all shot to pieces, with not one house standing which was inhabited or inhabitable” and the graveyards “full of soldiers’ crosses”.  Rheims was “a dead city” with no civilians left, only eighteen houses intact and the streets full of mountains of debris.[7]  According to the account by Woodrow Wilson’s doctor, Cary Grayson, in January 1919, “There was hardly a house that had not suffered somewhat from the bombardment,” which he was told had been conducted in a “systematic manner…  [I]t was stated that their plan was to shell it block by block daily…  Before the war, Rheims had a population of approximately 250,000, but today it had been reduced to less than 3,000 who burrowed in the cellars, in a vain effort to keep warm…”  The Mayor, Jean Baptiste Nicolas Langlet, “who had remained in the City during the entire siege, expressed his deep thanks for the thoughtfulness of the party in visiting the ruined city” and Wilson duly commended the French for “the manner in which they had held out against successive heavy assaults”.[8]  According to the New York Times report,

Before going to the cathedral, he [Wilson] passed through the streets of a deserted city which was once the home of 115,000 people, but where fewer than 5,000 are now eking out an existence among the ruins.  He visited Red Cross canteens where hundreds of destitute persons are fed night and day, and the hospital where the sick and injured are cared for…  A light blanket of snow covered the ground as the President drove up to the cathedral, and Rheims, ravished and naked in all its misery and desolation, looked like a graveyard in the moonlight.  There were more crows in the air, circling over the ruined town, than there were human beings below in the littered streets.[9]

Cardinal Luçon greeted Wilson (below) with the words, “Venez voir, monsieur le président, ce qu’ils ont fait de mon église.”[10]  Grayson, accompanying the Wilsons, continued:

After inspecting the Cathedral from the inside, we were escorted around the outside, so that we could see the effect of the German shells and also had pointed out where a shell had shifted the base of the statue of Joan of Arc almost five inches.  The Cardinal assured the President that he had been in the town during the entire bombardment and that the tower of the Cathedral had never been used for military purposes.  The President listened attentively to all the Cardinal said on this subject but made no comment.[11]

The Cardinal told Shotwell the same story in May:

That old man stayed in Rheims the whole four years and watched the shells exploding day and night from only half a block away.  He convinced us all that the French army never used the cathedral for a point of observation and that it was even scrupulously careful to avoid the appearance of it.  This is a point I am glad to have clear in my mind.[12]

These exchanges concerned the difference between the French view of the city as the “ville-martyr”, the victim of German barbarism (“pour le seul plaisir de détruire”[13]), and the German argument, first made four days after 19 September 1914, that a battery of guns was placed beside the cathedral and that one of the great towers was used for observing German positions and was therefore a legitimate target.  A German propaganda card from 1917 (left) carried the text, “The French use the cathedral of Reims as a base of operations and therewith endanger this magnificent work of art.”[14]  François Cochet, while acknowledging that there can be no certainty on the issue, has argued that there is no evidence of use for military purposes.[15]

Wilson’s folly     
Woodrow Wilson’s trip to Rheims was not enough to stem the drift of French public opinion towards disillusionment with and outright hostility to the American President.  It was too little – one afternoon – too late.From early December 1918, when Wilson was on his way across the Atlantic, he was expected to visit the battlefields in order to gain an appreciation of French suffering and the need to punish and weaken Germany in the peace settlement: “When Mr. Wilson has passed through the devastated regions, when his eyes have seen and his ears heard,” one newspaper contended, “he will enter the Peace Conference with the stern desire to chastise the guilty and to prevent the innocent from suffering again.”[16]  Wilson’s closest political adviser, Colonel Edward House, already in Paris, discussed a battlefields visit with the French:

The French and Belgian Governments are most insistent that you should make a trip to the devastated regions of France and Belgium.  Accordingly the French Government are making arrangements for you to take a trip beginning December 26 which will occupy approximately three days through Northern France and Belgium.[17]

Stephen Pichon, France’s Foreign Minister, cabled Washington to suggest that, “The tour to the devastated regions might take place the seventeenth and eighteenth” of December and André Tardieu, soon to have a major role at the Peace Conference, sent the Americans a two-page “Projet de Voyage … pour Répondre à un Désir Exprimé par M. le Président”.[18]  It was reported in the French papers that Wilson had decided to visit “les régions dévastées” of northern France and Belgium.[19]

In fact, however, Wilson had expressed no such desire.  He attended numerous official functions in Paris in mid-December, visited Italy and Britain between 26 December and 7 January, and then turned to preparation for the Peace Conference, which formally opened on 18 January 1919.

As one of House’s aides recalled, “ripples of dissatisfaction became noticeable in the French press, about January 5” and “the President was even reproached by some of the papers for what one of them termed his “Olympian indifference to suffering”.”[20]  Wilson, it was said, had “seen nothing” and merely voiced ineffectual “words of comfort”.[21]   L’Écho de Paris, later a strident critic of Wilson’s leniency towards Germany, reported on 9 January that, “Beaucoup de personnes s’étonnent [Many are astonished] que le président Wilson n’ait pas encore mis à exécution son intention … d’aller visiter les régions dévastées par les Boches.”[22]   Wilson complained on 10 January that the French were “trying to force him to go to see the devastated regions so that he might see red and play into the hands of the governments of England, France and Italy.”[23]  On 20 January, Edith Benham, part of Wilson’s inner circle as Mrs Wilson’s social secretary, wrote at length about how the constant nagging of the French induced obstinacy and defiance:

The French are making rather a mistake in making a concerted effort to induce him [Wilson] to go at once to the devastated regions.  He is obstinate and they have started sort of a propaganda to ask him on all and every occasion and by all sorts of different persons, to go to the old Front, with the idea to make him realize more fully the horrors France has had to suffer…  He said today … that he was really getting seriously annoyed about it, as so many people had spoken to him about it, and he said that even if France had been entirely made a shell hole it would not change the ultimate settlement…[24]

On the evening of 18 January, the day the Peace Conference opened, Wilson told a journalist friend that,

As a boy, I saw the country through which Sherman marched to the sea.  The pathway lay right through my people’s properties.  I know what happened [there], and I know the bitterness and hatreds which were engendered.  I don’t want to get mad over here because I think that there ought to be one person at that peace table who isn’t mad.  I’m afraid if I visited the devastated areas I would get mad, too, and I’m not going to permit myself to do so.  As a matter of fact, if I had my way I’d adjourn the Peace Conference for one year, and let all these people go home and get the bile out of their systems.[25]

The controversy over his delayed visit to the battlefields was the first difference between Wilson and the French, the loose thread that began the unravelling of their relationship.  Edith Wilson saw the eventual decision to visit Rheims as a concession to popular demand – “It was at this time that the pressure was strongest for him to visit the despoiled areas.  Finally, from sheer weariness, he said he would go”[26] – and the French at least suspected his reluctance.  Harold Nicolson wrote unambiguously on the day of Wilson’s trip: “Feeling in Paris is turning against Wilson and the Americans.  It is at present merely a vague dislike, and not documenté.  They are furious that P.W. should have waited till to-day before visiting the devastated areas.”[27]  The French response to Wilson’s visit on 26 January was muted.  In La Libre Parole, a Catholic daily, the report was headed, “M. Wilson visite enfin les Ruines de la Guerre” – the “enfin” (finally) giving a glimpse of previous concern or dissatisfaction.[28]  L’Intransigeant described “une véritable impression de soulagement [relief]” among “le public français”.[29]  Generally, however, the coverage of Wilson’s trip, was concise – it was not treated as an event of major importance – but positive.  Wilson’s reaction (“fort ému”) was widely reported and many papers gave prominence to an exchange (possibly apocryphal) which must have been pleasing to the French: to Cardinal Luçon’s declaration that his cathedral had never been used for a military purpose, Wilson allegedly answered, “J’ai toujours cru de même”.[30]

The irony is that an event of which the French once had such high hopes now passed with little fanfare.  The question paled into insignificance beside the multiplicity of issues which emerged after the Peace Conference finally got under way.  The niggle which marred the honeymoon did not occupy the minds of the couple, France and America, as the marriage all but foundered on a sea of irreconcilable differences in relation to the League of Nations (which Wilson insisted must be first in the order of business, when the French wanted to prioritise the disarming of their enemy) and the treaty with Germany.  By the time of Wilson’s second trip to a devastated area, Soissons, on 23 March, the battlefields question had lost its political charge and this visit received barely a mention in the French press.  Gestures were of little moment once the territorial, strategic and economic issues, those in which the future of France seemed at stake, were on the agenda.  Of course, in the preliminaries, before the Conference began and the conflicts of interest and perspective emerged, gestures were all-important, something that Wilson, so lacking in political skills and diplomatic experience, failed to understand.

James Shotwell and others saw majesty and magnificence in the cathedral’s ruined edifice:

The ruins of Rheims are appalling; but we had seen ruins before and it was simply as though the little village of Vaux were multiplied many times.  When we drove in front of the cathedral, however, all previous impressions were wiped out.  No description will ever be adequate to depict the impressive majesty of that ruin.  It looms up much magnified by the destruction of the houses around and the bare stone walls without roof and shattered by explosions on every face of it; in a sense more magnificent than before.  In the old days it was so perfect a harmony and so rich in detail that one failed to take in the variety and extent of the creations of sculpture and architecture which combined in it.  Now that it is mutilated, the eye is arrested by every detail of what is left and so the height strikes one all the more.[31]

Shotwell’s feelings were shared by a royal visitor whom he met among the ruins of Rheims.  The vivacious and beautiful Queen Marie of Romania, a grandchild of Queen Victoria, was a peacemaker in the sense that she went to Paris in March 1919 to support Romania’s territorial ambitions, bringing “her undeniable charm to bear upon some of the more susceptible statesmen”.[32]  She visited Rheims in April and, romantic and dramatic by nature, was inspired to a level of almost religious mysticism:

A moving sight indeed, that mighty Cathedral rising like a ghost of unimaginable beauty from a grey mass of formless ruins…  [L]ike so many decapitated martyrs, its statues seem frozen with pain.  Yet there stands the great building invincible, having defied the modern means of destruction and with them the spirit of hate.  A vision of another age, of a stronger faith, ascending above the surrounding chaos, more sacred than ever because of its mutilation, more supremely stately because all around it has been laid low; and to-day the sky is its only vault.

Such it appeared to me that early spring day, when we stood mute gazing up at its perfect majesty.  Somehow one became speechless or spoke only in whispers…[33]

Even Margaret Hall, solid spinster and devoid of Marie’s writerly pretensions, was inspired to call her photograph of the towering edifice, “France triumphant rising out of her ruins”.[34]

In April and May 1919, the Seymours found the cathedral “terribly battered”, with its roof fallen in and the great façade “unquestionably marred beyond repair”.  “Formerly it was perfect…  It seems to me to be spoiled absolutely for what it was; it is now a lovely ruin.”  The town was still “in terrible shape…  For street after street every house is in ruins” – but it was “beginning to show some sign of life” and thousands of citizens had returned to the city and a sort of normality:

The life of the town is beginning to revive in extraordinary fashion.  I saw three or four places where one could get something to eat, generally in the ground floor of a building of which the walls were standing and where canvas formed temporary ceilings and oilpaper served for windows; life must be somewhat similar to that in San Francisco after the earthquake and fire.[35]


Soissons     Another, nearby cathedral city suffered similar devastation during the war, but primarily as the inadvertent target of French artillery.  Soissons, west of Rheims, had been lost to the Germans on 1 September 1914 but regained by the French on 12 September.  The Germans frequently shelled the city from the high ground on the north bank of the Aisne – “Soissons est libéré, mais reste à la merci des Allemands” – destroying many properties and, in March 1915, badly damaging the cathedral.[36]  On 29 May 1918, as part of Operation Blücher, the Germans took the town after several hours of street fighting.  But Soissons was destroyed neither by regular bombardment from 1914 nor by street-fighting in 1918.  “Contrairement à une idée recue, c’est le bombardement français de juillet 1918 qui a anéanti [annihilated] la ville.”[37]  From 18 July 1918, French Tenth Army drove east from the Forest of Villers-Cotterêts, south-west of Soissons, but was held up on the outskirts and confined to bombarding the city, destroying its southern suburbs and the centre, until the Germans finally pulled out on 2 August.

Close to Paris, the city was much visited in 1919, but there was little awareness that it was not enemy guns which had destroyed it.  Woodrow Wilson visited on 23 March and Dr Grayson noted that,

Soissons is one of the great points of history in the war.  It was destroyed chiefly during the engagements of May, 1918, when for several days street fighting took place.  From the time of the battle of the Marne in 1914, when the German retreat took place, the enemy lines had been practically at the gates of the city.  For all of that period Soissons was under daily bombardment, yet the people or at least a great many of them remained in their homes, living in their cellars, and refusing to run away. We rode through Soissons proper and had pointed out to us the various places where street barricades were erected and house to house fighting took place, the points where the French and the Germans exchanged rifle and shell fire across the Aisne River, finally winding up in a half-ruined inn, where we had lunch…[38]  On 16 March 1919, Lloyd George “went on an excursion to the devastated area around Soissons.  Soissons itself is in a terrible state, the principal streets being altogether destroyed.”  Seymour “felt very badly about the cathedral.  I had not realized the extent of its ruin.  There is a great pile of rubble in front, about 15 feet high, and I got some of the stained glass from the cathedral still in its lead and some pretty pieces of tile work.”[39]  Shotwell believed that the Germans had systematically destroyed much of the city:

The sight of Soissons cathedral struck me this time, as it did before, as much more affecting than that of Rheims.  All that part of the city around the cathedral is smashed, as at Rheims, but the Germans showed that this was done on purpose by the fact that whole blocks to the north and to the east were relatively little touched…  The old hospital (Hôtel Dieu) just a little east of the cathedral seemed hardly injured.[40]

It was at Soissons and (later in the day) at St. Maxence that Wilson’s party encountered French soldiers who expressed support for a Wilsonian peace and “acclaimed the President as the savior of the world and the savior of the nation”.[41]

The last great crisis in the wartime history of Rheims centred on the struggle for the Fort de la Pompelle, five kilometres to the south-east of Rheims, in 1918.  Like the other forts around Rheims, it was built after the 1870 war as part of the defence of Paris; though obsolete (and disarmed) by 1914, its high position, with a clear view down the gentle slope to Rheims, made it the key to the defence of the city after September 1914.  It faced numerous infantry assaults and constant bombardment with explosive and gas shells.  The defenders, up to 2,000 men at any one time, effectively lived underground in the bowels of the fort.  In external appearance, it came to resemble a scorched hilltop, or “a mere heap of ruins”.[42]  The fort bore the brunt of the final attempts to take Rheims, at the end of May and in mid-July 1918.  Seymour stopped near the fort and commented on the “extremely heavy fighting [that] had gone on last year; the fort itself is nothing but a mass of subsoil churned up, over the concrete foundations, some of which are still intact”.[43]  Shotwell saw “the powdered fragments of the fortress which,” he mistakenly thought, “the Germans took from the French at the last offensive there…”[44]  The fort and Rheims were almost given up.  General Micheler, commander of Fifth Army, “donna l’ordre d’abandonner Reims” on 30 May, but General Petit turned a deaf ear (“fit la sourde oreille et se prépera à defender la ville maison par maison”).[45]  “The garrison at Fort Pompelle, momentarily encircled, held out until [on 18 July] a furious counter-attack by the French Colonial Infantry [Fifth Army] relieved it and drove back the assailants.”[46]

If Soissons was liberated just a fortnight into Second Marne in 1918, it was not until much later, between 25 September and 6 October, that all of the German-occupied forts near Rheims were retaken and that city was delivered.  It was an assortment of ruins that its citizens returned to in 1919 and they had a decades-long process of reconstruction ahead of them.  One consolation was the attention and sympathy of the world, which in due course yielded a great deal of much-needed practical support.  Wilson’s initial, apparent indifference diminished his reputation in France, but he finally went to Rheims, the symbol of a nation’s suffering, to show that he did have some sense of what his ally had experienced and even of what the French people expected of the peacemakers in Paris.



[1] The New York Times, 28 January 1919.

[2] Rheims and the Battles for its Possession, Michelin Guide (Clermont-Ferrand, 1919), 155.

[3] François Cochet, ‘L’Incendie d’une Cathédrale au Coeur de la Grande Guerre’, in Jours de Guerre et de Paix: Regard Franco-Allemand sur l’Art de 1910 à 1930 (Paris, 2014), 86.

[4] Michel Thibault, Reims et ses Quartiers (Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, 2007), 11.

[5] Rheims and the Battles for its Possession, Michelin Guide, 18-21.  François Cochet, ‘L’Incendie d’une Cathédrale au Coeur de la Grande Guerre’, in Jours de Guerre et de Paix, 86.  One estimate put the number of shells at 15,000 on just one day, 16 April 1917.  Pierre Desportes, Histoire de Reims (Toulouse, 1983), 369.

[6] Ibid., 371.

[7] Hall’s memoir, 12 November 1918, in Higonnet, Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country, 73.

[8] Arthur S. Link, ed., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson (Princeton, 1989), Volume, 54, 279-80, Diary of Dr Grayson, 26 January 1919.

[9] The New York Times, 28 January 1919.  By 15 March 1919, the population was up to 8,500, and it would be 40,000 at the end of the year. Desportes, Histoire de Reims, 371.

[10] Le Matin, 27 January 1919.  Louis Henri Joseph Cardinal Luçon remained in the city until the ordered evacuation of April 1917.

[11] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 54, 280, Diary of Dr Grayson, 26 January 1919.  As shown below, some French reports had Wilson saying he accepted the truth of Luçon’s claim.

[12] Shotwell, At the Paris Peace Conference, 338, Diary, 24 May 1919.

[13] Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé quoted by François Cochet in Jours de Guerre et de Paix, 87.

[14] For the catalogue of German accusations, see ibid., 90-91.

[15] Ibid., 92-93.  In 1919, the French military governor of regained Strasbourg reported that “les Allemands ont utilisé la plate-forme de la cathédrale de Strasbourg à des fins militaires…  Aucun doute n’est possible: ce que nous n’avons pas fait à Reims, les Allemands l’ont fait pendant toute la guerre à Strasbourg [with] l’installation d’observatoires de tirs d’artillerie et de postes d’écoute contre avions”.  Le Matin, 11 March 1919.

[16] L’Ouest-Éclair, 5 December 1918, quoted in George Bernard Noble, Policies and Opinions at Paris, 1919: Wilsonian Diplomacy, the Versailles Peace, and French Public Opinion (New York, 1935), 71.

[17] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 53, 345, House to Wilson, 9 December 1918.

[18] Ibid., 346, Polk to Lansing, 9 December 1918, enclosing telegrams from Pichon, n.d..  Arthur Walworth, America’s Moment, 1918: American Diplomacy at the End of World War I (New York, 1977), 139, Tardieu to General Harts, 18 December 1918.

[19] Le Temps, 18 December 1918.  “M. Wilson veut voir les traces des crimes ennemis…  [Il] irait visiter les charbonnages du Nord, dévastés par les allemands.”  L’Intransigeant, 17 December 1918.

[20] Stephen Bonsal, Suitors and Suppliants: The Little Nations at Versailles (New York, 1946), 258, Diary, 12 April 1919.

[21] Noble, Policies and Opinions at Paris, 81, quoting Le Journal de Rouen, 8 January 1919 and Le Progrès du Nord, 9 January 1919.

[22] L’Écho de Paris, 9 January 1919.

[23] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 53, 707, Diary of Edith Benham, 10 January 1919.  See also Frederick Palmer, Bliss, Peacemaker: The Life and Letters of General Tasker Howard Bliss (New York, 1934), 365, citing diary, 6 January [1919].  Hall’s memoir, 12 January 1919, in Higonnet, Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country, 103.

[24] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 54, 175, Diary of Edith Benham, 20 January 1919.  See also ibid., 178, Diary of Dr Grayson, 21 January 1919.  Edith Bolling Wilson, My Memoir (Indianapolis and New York, 1938), 233.

[25] David Lawrence, The True Story of Woodrow Wilson (London, 1924), 259.  A. Scott Berg, Wilson (London, 2013), 531.

[26] Edith Wilson, My Memoir, 234.

[27] Harold Nicolson, Peacemaking 1919 (London, 1933), 249, 250-52, Diary, 26, 27, 29 January 1919.

[28] La Libre Parole, 27 January 1919.

[29] L’Intransigeant, 26, 27, 28 January 1919.

[30] Le Figaro, 27 January 1919.  L’Eclair, 27 January 1919.  L’Homme Libre, 27 January 1919.  Le Petit Journal, 27 January 1919.  Le Journal, 27 January 1919.  L’Heure, 27 January 1919.

[31] Shotwell, At the Paris Peace Conference, 237-38, Diary, 30 March 1919.  Shotwell also wrote, “I am not sure but that the cathedrals which have been injured by German artillery have gained a certain dignity from their very destruction.  This is true even of Rheims.”  Ibid., 332, Diary, 23 May 1919.

[32] Bonsal, Suitors and Suppliants, 172, March 1919.

[33] Queen Marie of Roumania, ‘My Mission, III: Paris Again,’ The Cornhill Magazine (December 1939), Vol. 160, No. 960, 732-33.  Marie dated the trip 11 April 1919, but Shotwell wrote that he met her there on 6 April.  Shotwell, At the Paris Peace Conference, 247, Diary, 6 April 1919.

[34] Higonnet, Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country, xxxvii, 73.

[35] Letters from Charles Seymour, 198-99, 232-33, Seymour to Mr and Mrs Thomas Watkins, 7 April, 21 May 1919.

[36] Valérie Judas, 1914-1918, Soissons: La Guerre des Civils (Soissons, 2014), 20-35.

[37] Ibid., 107.

[38] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 56, 196-97, Diary of Dr Grayson, 23 March 1919.

[39] A.J.P. Taylor, ed., Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Stevenson (London, 1971), 173, 16 March 1919.  Letters from Charles Seymour, 196, Seymour to Mr and Mrs Thomas Watkins, 7 April 1919.

[40] Shotwell, At the Paris Peace Conference, 365, Diary, 8 June 1919.  The 6 April entry had more detail on the state of Soissons cathedral.  Ibid., 249, Diary, 6 April 1919.

[41] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 56, 197-98, Diary of Dr Grayson, 23 March 1919.  See also ibid., 244, Diary of Edith Benham, 24 March 1919.

[42] Rheims and the Battles for its Possession, Michelin Guide, 169.

[43] Letters from Charles Seymour, 233, Seymour to Mr and Mrs Thomas Watkins, 21 May 1919.

[44] Shotwell, At the Paris Peace Conference, 338, Diary, 24 May 1919.

[45] Desportes, Histoire de Reims, 370.  Micheler was acting on Northern Army Group commander Franchet d’Espèrey’s instructions.  Greenhalgh, The French Army and the First World War, 296, 299.

[46] Rheims and the Battles for its Possession, Michelin Guide, 171. “Qui se souvient du général Petit, qui en désobéissant sauva Reims et permit la manoeuvre victorieuse du 18 juillet 1918?”  Desportes, Histoire de Reims, 371.