NEWLY DISCOVERED NEWSREEL FROM THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES!
A 1919 PR Newsreel “Mail and Courier Service Activities in the AEF, 1917 – 1919”, has been located by State Department Diplomatic Courier John Brandt. Amazingly, Wallace Hamilton and Amos Peaslee are featured in the newsreel! At the 18.47 mark, a ship is seen landing at a French port, from which a courier disembarks, carrying a diplomatic pouch. He boards a lighter to be taken ashore. He then boards a train to Paris, where he is greeted by Capt. Hamilton with car and driver at the 19.57 mark. The next frame shows the car stopping in front of the Hotel Crillon. Major Peaslee is waiting for the car, greets the courier and accepts the pouch. Capt. Hamilton, Major Peaslee and the courier smile and chat for the camera, after which the courier returns to the car and Hamilton and Peaslee go inside the hotel.
It was an emotional moment when I first saw the video of my then 27- year- old father, walking, smiling, saluting, 101 years later! Everything looks exactly the way he described it in his memoir. Dad mentioned PR newsreels in his story but never mentioned that he was in one! It is possible he never saw it.
It has been just over 100 years since the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Recent articles have appeared about the Silver Greyhounds, the Overseas Courier Service established in late summer 1918 to speed up the delivery of important communications between Washington, London and Paris. The U.S. Department of State claims the Silver Greyhounds as their first official couriers. The archives belonging to the commanding officer, Major Amos Peaslee, were recently donated to the State Department by Major Peaslee’s grandson. They had been packed away in a garage in Seattle.
My father, Captain Wallace F. Hamilton, was Major Peaslee’s assistant. He was assigned to run the Paris office, responsible for getting the couriers and their pouches safely to and from trains and ships. After the Armistice, Dad was responsible for all the transportation vehicles belonging to the Postal Express Service (PES), to which the courier service had been assigned. Dad had been plucked from the front in late August 1918 and told he was needed for special duty. He sketched what he observed as he made his way from Chateau Thierry to the Services of Supply in Tours. After all that military training, he wasn’t happy about not being able to fight. He soon realized there would be plenty of adventure in his new assignment. He had served in the U.S. First Cavalry, the horse cavalry that protected the U.S./Mexican border in Southern California. General John “Black Jack” Pershing was in command of this operation. When it came time to establish the courier service, General Pershing assigned the task to a trusted cavalry officer, General James Harbord. My father was known from the cavalry days and was thus chosen to be a part of this special unit.
My father wrote the following account of his adventures with the Silver Greyhounds in 1968. He sent it to Major Peaslee, who was very pleased with the manuscript and hoped my dad would publish it, including a never-before seen statistical summary of the OCS activities through April 1919. My dad passed in April 1972 and the manuscript and artwork went into storage. His scrapbook from the war was stolen from our storage facility and returned to me many years later through a stroke of seeming divine intervention. My own husband passed in October 2016 and I decided to take time to bring the Silver Greyhounds back to life since the centennial year was upon us. I have chosen to present the story and artwork on this website rather than as a book. The story is a relatively unknown part of World War One history and deserves to be in the public domain. Part One is my father’s war story in his own words, with editing and clarification done by me. Part Two is my dad’s personal story, told with the help of his letters home to his parents. Part Three is my memoir of growing up with a father 61 years my senior, a domesticated old cavalry soldier who raised me on stories of life out in the big world and responsible for setting me on my own life adventure.
Felicita (Hamilton) Trueblood
San Diego, California