William Arthur Sirmon was a lot of things, but a coward was just not one of them. This is proved by the citations and merits he received for his bravery that is shown throughout the pages of the World War One book, or his authentic diary, That’s War.
The Croix de Guerre with Palm can be seen in the top left corner of the cover page of That’s War. It is a French medal that wasn’t believed necessary until the brutality of WWI. Prior to the Croix de Guerre, France awarded the Citation du jour, which was just a sheet of paper, but because of the immensity of the war France decided they needed something more to honor their soldiers.
It was established on April 8, 1915, and it can be awarded to a unit that exemplifies an extreme amount of bravery. It may also be given to an individual who shows unfailing courage in the face of combat with enemy forces, which is why William Arthur Sirmon received it.
Excerpt from That’s War:
“We were caught-successfully ambushed! We were hemmed in on both sides by the heavy German wire. We could not deploy.
I heard Lieutenant Hazelwood shout, “Tell Major Hawkins that Hazelwood is wounded.”
There was a terrific explosion right beside me. I turned, and a private lay there, groaning.
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
“I think my hip’s blown off,” he said.
I felt his hip and put my hand into a ghastly hole the potato-masher had made.
The Patrol broke. I wanted to shoot, but could see no Germans to shoot at. They had two machine guns and several riflemen flanking the opening. I had jumped to the side of it. In the flare lights I could see our men escaping, running back out of the wire. Strangely enough I did not think of running away. I was not even shaking now. Not that I was thinking of those things at the time. I don’t know that I was thinking at all. It was a case of being in a hot, tight corner, and somehow or other there was no time to think.
Soon everyone who was not wounded, was gone. The terrible firing continued. A short distance from me was a shell hole. I rolled the wounded man beside me into it. I saw several wounded and got them into the one hole. I found Hazelwood with several bullet wounds in his body and one foot blown off by a grenade. None of the wounded were able to do more than carry themselves.
Sergeant Garner, of our Regiment, appeared out of the dark. He said that Lieutenant Wood was dying in the wire to our left. I could not help him. I had seven wounded of my own, but told him I would cover the opening with a rifle until he could get away. He saluted, and got Wood and saved him
Firing had not slackened. I got the six enlisted men to the edge of No Man’s Land and showed them how to get over to our lines, and watch them hobble away, assisting each other.
I went back into the wire for Hazelwood.”
If you want to know what happens next buy That’s War, and read the entire mesmerizing and historical diary.