Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lloyd Walsh Papers
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. .