Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese
Number Twenty-Six
Grand Hotel Brasseur, Luxembourg, 
Sunday, September 14th, 1919.
I had quite a busy day yesterday. Then last night over our Duc Frederic, General ******, Colonel ******, and I settled the fate of Alaska and especially the Railroad and Road Commissions.

At luncheon at the “Cercle des Allies", Colonel and I decided upon the next President of Panama, so altogether it was quite a diplomatic day. Could not find Ken Wang, who seemed to have disappeared, though he left a note behind to the effect that his General had forwarded to Pekin a recommendation for me for the order of the Striped Tiger, 3rd Class, and that I might expect the ribbon in about six months.

I got up at 6:00 this morning as my car was ordered for 7:30. It showed up about 8:30 without orders or license. It was eleven before we got clear of Paris. I had my orders, but, without orders for the car, the chauffeur and car were liable to arrest by the first American M.P. we might meet. Without a license, we were all in danger of being picked up by a French M.P., because everything American, except a few cars held in reserve and so marked, has been turned over to the French under the $400,000,000 indemnity agreement.

We had to pull two officers out of bed this morning, after hunting them all over town, to sign the necessary papers. It was all due to the stupidity of one officer who neglected to make a complete job of fixing things up when he issued my orders on Saturday morning.

Having had considerable experience in several countries, I asked about gasolene and was told we were to pick it up on route and every thing was fixed. At Chalons, 100 miles out, I found we were down to 7 gallons in the main tank; that none had been put into the emergency side tank; and that the driver had not been furnished with a gas book. All American stations have been closed.

We pulled into a French station, had both tanks filled, then persuaded the French soldier to give us a 50 litre drum which we put into the limousine with us. We also got an extra can of oil. We then broke the news to him about having lost our gas book. We finally persuaded him to accept a special receipt, but he was quite dubious about it. There was a carnival in town and he was anxious to get away, so it was finally alright. As a matter of fact, though very careful about most things, the French have no effective system of property accountability in the Army. This soldier was probably selling gasoline on his own account right along.

We also discovered we had no funnel. Later, in changing a tire, we found we had no handle for our Jack.  Our chauffeur though a sergeant, first class, of the Motor Transport Corps, turned out to be a clerk, so we had to look out for the car and him, too. He was absolutely helpless. We had a terrible time changing a rear tire on that big heavy limousine without a jack handle. We tried everything we could find in a little village from fence pickets to wire nails. Anything that would go in the socket at all would either bend or would be so long the outer end would hit the ground before the lift amounted to a full notch. Meantime it was getting late.

Two other officers are with me. We came on through St. Menehould and Verdun, passed through a corner of Belgium and got here, 200 miles out, about 8:15. We crossed devastated France all the way from St. Menehould. We must have zigzagged across the Belgian, French, and Luxembourg Frontiers, because we were stopped a number of times by the guards and each set wore a different style of uniform from the last, though in the dark we could not identify them surely.

This is a very beautiful country up through here and extremely thickly populated. Luxembourg is not much of a town but the hotel is fine and we had an excellent and very welcome dinner. Down to Metz tomorrow.

End Notes and Bibliography