Scrapbook of Richard Thomas Crump, Company G, Third Infantry

Description

We know very little about Richard Crump’s life, aside from what can be gleaned from the meticulous scrapbook he assembled documenting his service during World War I as an ambulance driver. The album progresses from his carefree days in training, featuring a group of friends and shiny uniforms and new vehicles and equipment, to the ravaged northern French countryside in the region of Saint-Sulpice and Wailly. Judging by the many photographs Crump took of buildings reduced to rubble by German shelling, he clearly was fascinated by the destruction of such cities as Dammartin and Remiencourt. His photographs also recorded life in the trenches of Cottenchy and Vézaponin. Additionally, Crump gave us images of subjects often neglected in treatments of the war, including German prisoners of war, French villagers, and the devastation left in the wake of the fighting. The photographs show the French countryside littered with abandoned war materiel, from light artillery to tanks, trains, and planes. Crump’s photographs of ambulances also show how the reality of the war differed from his experience in training. In contrast to the new vehicles seen in the beginning of the album, Crump’s ambulance, easily recognized by its “Blue Devil” insignia (a symbol of the famous French soldiers known as the Chasseurs alpins), is little more than a shell of a vehicle, with its shredded tarpaulin and jury-rigged framework. Crump’s scrapbook is preserved in the collections of the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

Last updated: September 11, 2017