The above photo is John Huskey (left) Allen C. Huber (right) of Co. K 138th Infantry (formerly 5th MO Infantry) 35th Div, 69th Brigade. Photographed at St. Malo in Brittany, France on March 26th 1919.
John Huskey and Allen C. Huber both "enlisted on June 4th, 1917 in the 5th regiment, National Guard of Missouri, christened "The Joffre Regiment" on account of the presentation of a large silk flag to the regiment by Marshall Joffre of France who was a visitor, on business, in St. Louis, Missouri at that particular time." Initially they drilled on the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial in Forest Park and were quartered in the coliseum located at the intersection of Washington and Jefferson avenues. After passing a physical examine at the gymnasium of Washington University, the new recruits were shipped off to Camp Clark in Nevada, Mo before reaching basic training at Camp Doniphan in Oklahoma. Their story continues in the diary recorded by Allen C. Huber, given to John Huskey following the war. Robert Huskey, the grandson of John Huskey, contributed the above photo, and diary below.
This book is the property of Allan C. Huber, who was a First-Class Private in Co. K, 138th Regiment, Infantry, of the 35th division, Missouri and Kansas troops, and contains a daily account of his life from the time he entered the Army on June 4th, 1917 until his discharge on May 12, 1919 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Diary of an Ex-Service Man 1917-1919
Enlisted on June 4th, 1917 in the 5th regiment, National Guard of Missouri, christened "The Joffre Regiment" on account of the presentation of a large silk flag to the regiment by Marshall Joffre of France who was a visitor, on business, in St. Louis, Missouri at that particular time.
We drilled twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays) on the grounds adjoining the Jefferson Memorial in Forest Park, for sometime and when we were called into company formation, the officers quartered us in the Coliseum at the corner of Washington and Jefferson Aves. For two weeks where we received the rudimentary principles of army life. After passing all the necessary tests for final acceptance into the army we were moved to the gymnasium at Washington University where we were quartered for about a week, awaiting equipment and orders to move to camp. The regiment and division were finally assembled at Camp Clark, Nevada, Missouri where we were rapidly reaching better organization and getting a better idea of what military life was going to be like. On September 25th, 1917 at 12 O’clock we entrained on the Missouri-Pacific R.R. going thru Carthage, Missouri on to Joplin.
Continuing on this road to the end of the trip, which was Fort Sill at Lanton, Oklahoma. We crossed the White river at Riverton, Kansas which place has a large water-plant, thoroughly up-to-date. We are traveling as the third section of the train, containing the Third Battalion made up of Co.’s J, K, L, and M, consisting of from 600 to 700 men. At Baxter Springs, Kansas A widely scattered town, we had to stop and await traveling orders. All towns in the vicinity of Joplin Missouri are engaged in the mining of zinc and lead and there is nothing particularly interesting in the landscape throughout this section. Inanapah, Oklahoma, a small town near Baxter Springs, Kansas is an oil-drilling section. The school buildings throughout Kansas and Oklahoma, both in town and country, appear to be roomy and up-to-date and nicely arranged. The farms and houses of the section of Oklahoma through which we are passing, seems to be new and well-kept and as we are traveling at the rate of about twenty-five miles an hour, we have ample time to look over the country in full.
Miami, Oklahoma a new and widely scattered town, is also in the oil-drilling country. About 6 miles beyond Miami we passed through country that is flat and level and covered with verdant grass, which makes good grazing land, which was evidenced by the fact that there are numerous cattle to be seen in the pastures near the tracks. We reached Afton, Oklahoma at dusk and were eating "mess" as we stopped there for a few moments. It is now dark and as I am unable to see any objects, will continue my entries in the morning by which time we will be pretty well advanced into Oklahoma territory.
My buddy and Pal, John C. Huskey of Racola, MO. who has been my partner since we were mustered into service at the coliseum in St. Louis sits beside me in the car on the way to camp and while I make notes, he occupies his time by reading. I might mention here some of the things that may be interesting in regard to what the "Sammies" do for pastime while aboard the train. Some read, play cards, sing, relate stories and experiences, observe everything of interest from the car windows, and, chief of all is the fad of passing out small slips of paper with the name, company, and camp written on them so that anyone who cares to, may write us a some future time. And plenty of them did! Thank their good souls. For letters were always welcome in the daily hum-drum of army life.
Passing thru Vinita, Okla. About 8 p.m. we took it to be a fairly lively place, judging from the illumination of its streets.
Did guard duty from 4 to 5 a.m. and ate breakfast as we passed thru Oklahoma City, which probably is Oklahoma’s most thriving city. Our train passed parallel to their Wheeler Park, which scenically, is beautiful and in which we observed a pen containing ostriches. Cotton fields are noticeable outside Oklahoma City and also quite a few large-sized wheat fields. The soil here is a reddish clay loam of a peculiar shade but vegetation seems thriving and abundant. Wheatland Okla., a small place, and mustaine, also small, seem to lie in a fruit belt as we notice large peach and apple orchards here. Sugar cane and Kaffir corn are quite abundant also. The Red river passes thru this section and derives its name from the red soil of which I have already written. Near Chickasha ripening cotton fields are noticed as we pass through the country and plenty of Negroes are observed at work in the fields.
At Noroe, Okla. a small place, the scenery is probably as pretty as any we have seen on the entire trip. There are hills and hills covered with a thick growth of trees, tinged with the red and gold of early autumn and as you look from the car window, across the countryside, a desire comes to roam in the works amongst the early signs of fall. The fall of the year always has been one of the beautiful seasons. Here and there, amongst the trees, little Indian children wave to us as the train speeds onward. We are nearing our destination, which is Lawton, Okla. and just outside the city in the prairie lands of this section we saw large numbers of prairie-dogs sitting atop of the little mounds of dirt thrown up beside the holes in which they hide when pursued or shot at by hunters.
Arriving at Lawton, Okla. we detrained at Camp Doniphan, which was a new camp constructed just north of the old camp at Fort Sill, an artillery camp, which has been there for many years. Being assigned to our company street, army life began in earnest for we were being whipped into shape to be sent overseas. It is Sept. 25th, 1917 on our arrival here and we immediately begin preparations for persistent and intensive drilling. I might mention here the latest we occupied the other quarters since being mustered into service. From Aug.5, 1917 to the 19th we were in the Coliseum and from the 19th to the 26th we were in the gymnasium at Washington University. From the 26th to Sept. 25, 1917 we were located at Camp Clark, Nevada, MO. from Sept. 25th, 1917 up to April 16, 1918 we were stationed at Camp Doniphan, Okla. which is 5 miles from Lawton our nearest city of any size. This is the original habitation of the Indian in this territory and there are large numbers of the different tribes located hereabouts. Probably the most famous (or notorious) of them all was the old chief Geronimo, of whom I heard many interesting tales from the people who live in this country. From the narrations of his actions, I gathered that he must be what is commonly known as a "tough bird." This section is rich in Indian lore, and, naturally, to we young folks, there were many interesting anecdotes to listen to. This is a fine Indian school for boys and girls at Lawton where the young Indians are educated and drilled and also the Comanche Indian Hospital to care for their sick. A church is provided for them and also a number of houses by most of them and also a number of houses but most of the older Indians prefer to live out on the reservation in their own way. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with quite a few of the young Indians at the school and secured some very good snapshots with my camera.
Our stay at Camp Doniphan was one continuous program of drilling and discipline which bore fruit, for, just before our embarkment we were judged as the best drilled regiment in the division and drew the honor of parading up Fifth avenue in New York City on behalf of the Liberty Loan drive going on, which I think was the third one. While at Doniphan, I had the privilege of frequent passed to Lawton and, of which I availed myself at every opportunity as my relatives, the Millers, formerly of St. Jacob, Ill. resided there and they very socially and generously, endeavored to make life worth while and, for which, anyone who is familiar with the old army grind knows, I was duly thankful. Mr. Scott, upon which an old stone fort was built as a defense against the Indians and medicine park, a summer resort with a nice swimming pool, were points of interest near the camp to which we hiked on Sundays and in our spare time. The Wichita Range of mountains were situated some distance from camp but we occasionally hiked over for a glimpse of the herd of buffaloes on the game preserve near the mountains.
The climate was hot and sultry and the ground covered with a perpetual layer of fine sand which had an ugly habit of flying in your eyes when the wind stirred. And it seemed to be stirring the better part of the time, so much so that we were compelled to wear goggles while in the field at drill. Our hats were kept in position by two leather straps, one passing (or resting) on the chin bone and the other in back of the head. The New York people later called us the "Cowboy Division" on account of the strapped hats.
Many memorable associations and friendships were formed between the people of Lawton and the camp and amongst the men themselves as they became better acquainted and as they gradually came to the realization that we were all in the game for the same purpose and the goal a long way off. It is fitting that these friendships, formed at this time, should be enduring long after the war has ended. I am very proud to note here that the class of men enlisted in the 35th division (of which I am a very proud member) was composed of as noble men as was to be desired and it is a pleasure indeed to be able to toil and associate with them and call them buddies. Angels ? No! As the Irishman said, "Not by a Damn Sight." But helpful and willing to share your troubles at all times. Some were bad but the number so small that you could very easily call them all good. Just regular human folks. And out of all this mass of humanity (60,000 in the division at full strength) emerged two lads I am, and, always will be glad, to call my bunkies for such they were in the real sense of the word, having been with me thru thick and thin for the entire period of our enlistment, Johnny Huskey, my closest buddy comes first, last and all the time and then Big Handsome Patrick McDonough, the Irishman, whose big blue eyes would sparkle with the very devil in them whenever I would sneak into the tent and anger him by dumping his bunk over right in the midst of a resting spell between drill periods! Thanks to his good old Irish nature, He never took it to heart, for in the later days he became my corporal and could have evened scores but we became the best of friends and shared all trials, good and bad, alike. Paddy’s home was in Maom Cross, Country Galway, Ireland and he was in this country only three years when he joined our outfit in St. Louis, MO. Huskey who has been my buddy from the first day we were mustered into service, came from a little French community near Potosi, MO. known as Racola, MO. and I am pleased to rate him as "A1" anyway you look at it. There are many other lads in the outfit, all wonderful fellows but it is only natural to extoc the merits of your closest companions.
At 12 O’clock on April 16, 1918, amid much hustle and bustle, we entrained on the Rock Island Line to begin our trip to the Atlantic coast, preparatory to sailing for France and the big moment of our lives. Our division was christened the "Santa Fe Division" and the Santa Fe cross was our official insignia on all our clothing. On April 17th we detrained at Kansan City, Mo. for a short limbering up walk in the park near Union Station and then boarded the C.B. and Q line for Chicago, Ill. by way of Quincy, Ill. where we observed the old soldiers’ home and where the Red Cross woman gave us apples, post cards and cigarettes. Thanks. Arrived in Chicago at 6 a.m. on April 18 where we had breakfast while stopping in the railroad yards. Leaving on the Pennsylvania Lines, we crossed the Chicago River and arrived at Valparaiso, Ind. at 10:30 a.m. where we stopped for one hour’s exercise on a ball ground at the edge of the city. We (and a rain) arrived at Ft. Wayne, Ind. at 2:50 p.m. Lima, Ohio at 5:30 p.m. Bucyrus, Oh. at 7:20 p.m. April 19th, 1918. Pittsburg, Pa. at 4:00 a.m. where I saw my first motor-driven trucks for hauling baggage to express cars along platform. South Forks, Pa. 5:00 a.m. mining section. Altoona 5:50 a.m. Breakfast here and changed train crews. Penn. Reformation farm at Huntington, Pa. crossed Allegheny River at Rockville 12 noon. Harrisburg, the capital at 12:50 where I "snapped" the State Capitol building and had the pleasure of shaking hands with the Governor of Pa. and his wife who were at the station to meet our train. Elizabethtown, Pa. is a beautiful college town. Drilled in a field just east of the small town of Rheems, Pa. and I took a picture of I Co. at drill. Throughout the state of Pa. the farms are noticeable for their unusually large barns. Scenery around the famous Horseshoe curve is just simply grand. Took a picture of Lancaster and the River about 3:30 p.m. also of the foundries at Coatsville. Large Catholic convent on seminary at Frazer, Pa. arrived Philadelphia (5:30 a.m.) snapped the "Zoo" gardens from the train window. A beautiful place. The sections we could see of Pa. from the train made it appear as a wonderful city. Arrived at Trenton, N.J. 8:00 and Newark at 8:30. We entered the tubes in Manhattan, N.Y. at 9:15 p.m. and it seems we were barely in them when we were on the other side of the river and in Brooklyn, N.Y. through which we passed to get to Camp Mills on Long Island, N.Y. Detraining about one-half mile from camp, we hiked in on foot arriving at 11:00 a.m. on April 20th where we were assigned to our quarters. The plant of the Curtis Aeroplane Co. is located next to our quarters. That evening Ed Brown of St. Charles, Mo., Aug. Dangus and myself went into Hempstead, Long Island and we found it a very nice prosperous looking city. Camp Mills is a dreary, muddy place used as a concentration place for troops before leaving for Camp Merritt, the embarking point.
Eddie Brown and myself took a Long Island Electric train for New York City and called on Wm. Streuber who was studying grand opera at that time and living at 51st Street and Columbus Circle. We attended Keith’s Palace theater in the afternoon, had dinner with Mr. Streuber and in the evening attended an Actor’s benefit show at the large New York Hippodrome.
Budzwieski, a Polish member of our company and myself went to Hempstead to spend the evening. Managed to meet a good-hearted man who made it possible for us to get some whiskey for Bud and a couple of bottles of Rheingold Beer for myself which we enjoyed very much, Thank you, as it had been quite a long while since we had had any refreshments of this sort and I am frank enough to say that I liked it. Excuse me, Please!
Nothing very especial on this date only that we drilled some, same as any other day and were issued some of our necessary overseas equipment.
My friend Pat McDonough was sick with the chills. Harry Meyer, St. Louis and myself attended the Bushwick Theater in Brooklyn, Grace La Rue and Joe Jackson being headliners. After the show, we took some whiskey back to camp for Paddy’s chills and he was mightily pleased to get it.
Dangus, the Greek, and I played pool all evening in Hempstead. Could never get Huskey, my buddy, to go to town after we were excused from duty in the evening so he stayed around camp mostly.
Our regiment (138th) paraded up 5th Ave. N.Y. in behalf of the third issue of the Liberty Loam. A sight no so easily forgotten! Flags and decorations everywhere, thousands upon thousands of people to watch the parade, our snappy regimental band with the colors at the head of them and a still snappier Battalion of young men full of pep, following them and surely anyone can grasp what a sight it was to look upon. It is fondly cherished in my own memory I am sure! We went by train from camp to Brooklyn and crossed over on the Ferry. In the evening went to Jamaica, where I met La Breque, a member of our company and we walked along a rock road until we came to Loukman’s dance hall where we danced the evening away.
Huskey and I took the elevated railway to New York City where we attended a Columbia Burlesque show. A sight seeing trip on a "Rubber-neck" wagon thru Chinatown was very interesting to John and I. I bought a blessed china teacup in a Josa-House, while there and also a back-scratcher which is a little hand made of bone and mounted on a long polished stick. We also included the Bowery and the Ghetto in our trip. The Ghetto is a sight in itself! Where all these hundreds, yes thousands, of foreigners of all types live, and how is beyond comprehension. They surely are jammed together in as little space as possible. We stayed all night at the Coburg Apartments on 7th and 34th Streets and the owner was obliging enough to bring eight bottles of Rheingold beer into our room for use during the evening and John and I had a little party that evening.
Briscoe, Renben Oswitz and I went to a Chinese chop seuy restaraunt at Freeport, L.I. in the evening. Our company went on guard.
Went to Hampstead, L.I. after retreat and supper.
Final preparations being made today to sail for France. We were confined to the company street this evening on account of departure. I went to the Y.M.C.A. tent to mail a package home and while there left my pocket book lying on the table, where I had been writing. Had $4 in money and all my receipts in it, but never heard anything more of it.
All hustle and bustle all day. Had to stay in company street again this evening.
Left Camp Mills, L.I. at 5:00 am for Hoboken, N.J. Detrained at Brooklyn, N.Y. and took the ferry " Scandinavia " down the Hudson river to New York harbor where we were loaded aboard the British transport " Missanabie ". From aboard we had an exellent view of Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyscraper section of lower New York which probably is unequalled anywhere else in the world. The Statue of Liberty towers over us in a protecting manner. John and I have a state room together, he occupying the upper and I the lower berth.
Goodbye friends and good old U.S.A. for we are gliding out onto the broad Atlantic ocean under ideal weather. Passed out into the ocean from the harbor at 10 am. There are 15 transports of about 60,000 men, supply ships and a battle ship that are visible besides our convoy, which encircles us, and which we cannot see as they are at some distance. This is the first time our ship (which belongs to the Canadian-Pacific Steamship Co.) has taken over troops from an American port as it has been used only for transport for Canadian troops. All ships in our fleet are flying the British flag, which caused a bit of regret, for which we would all prefer to cross under our own colors. The coast line is fading from view and as we face the east nothing greets the eye but water, water every where but in the excitement of becoming settled aboard ship we can hardly have time to take note of, or realize how awfully much water really does surround us. Some of the boys who are getting their first glimpse of such a large body of water, are looking long and intently out to sea. As for me, I had been on the Gulf of Mexico and the sight of so much water was really not so new or amazing to me. Regardless of that, the bigness of the Atlantic thrills you anyway.
Our crew, which of course is made up of English sailors, does not seem to impress us so favorably as they seem to regard us too lightly. Their chief impression of us being the good our food and money will do them. Our ship is carrying the Third Battalion of the 138th Regiment company's I,K,L and M, Headquarters Co., Regimental Band, Supply Co., Machine Co., and a large number of Casual, or drafted men who had been attached to our outfit at Camp Mills, L.I. having been sent from Camp Dodge , Iowa. Some of these boys complained of being ill fed at Camp Mills, L.I. recieving but one meal a day. Our meals aboard ship are english style and can not, of course, be compared to our good old American way of cooking, nor with the French style either. No life on the ocean today except a large inbound steamer and occasionally a lonesome looking sea gull on the wing. The band gave an afternoon concert on the top deck and Rube Oswitz, Alve Gleason, Zeisler, and myself had quite a little amusement dancing with our hob-nail shoes, which by the way, is the only footwear we have. We are about 300 miles out and the ocean is very calm. Have a boat drill every day at 10 am and 3 pm.
Ocean is very rough today and it is beginning to affect the boys, for quite a number became sick. A rush for the bunk to lie down usually helped to soothe the dizzy feeling cause by the rolling of the ship. The pitching and tossing caused me to have a dizzy headache and feel tired but did not cause me to get sick. Church services were held in the open on the top deck. Retired early as one gets tired of looking at water all the time. John and I were always accustomed to a friendly little wrestling about of an evening before hitting our bunks, so we had a "set to" in our state-room but it was so small and narrow that ,often striking our shins against the edge of the bunk we decided it wasn't such a good place to indulge in that kind of exercise. We were assisted in this decision by the yells of adjoining occupants who wanted to know if we thought we belonged to a wrecking crew. Funny how some fellows can't stand a little noise!
Sea is quieter to-day ,thank the lord. Had setting-up exercises this a.m. on top deck, My first glimpse of fish this afternoon .A school of them with quite a few jumping up out of the water seems to be about six feet long and brownish color. We are about 1100 miles out to sea. I do not like English meals. We have breadless dinners every day. Picture show this evening in the dinning hall but I went down to no. 514 cabin, Pat Mc Donough's room, and spent the evening with him.
While at exercise this a.m , the siren blew and the gunners flew to there guns the cause being an alarm over the appearance of a whale which looked like a submarine at a distance. We understood that the gunners were paid an extra L20 for the first hit on a submarine and they are always anxious to get a shot at one. We are about half-way across the ocean. Sea is very calm and the smoothest since we left New York. Spent the evening watching the boys play " African Golf." Had some bad smelling fish for supper and I threw mine through a port-hole onto the ocean where I think it might have came from at some ancient date.
Nothing unusual except a heavy fog in which we were completely enveloped and had to blow whistles continually to show positions of vessels. Went on guard at 4 and my post was in front of the ship's officers quarters. Not allowed to smoke on deck after. There are no lights aboard ship and it is very hard to walk about deck.
Foggy and rainy this a.m. Had athletic games, boxing and tug-of-war this afternoon but did not see any of the program as I was still on guard on second deck. Moving pictures after supper.
Sea calm but still foggy. This English meals are horrible. Athletic games in the afternoon and band concert. This evening after dark a strange vessel sighted near us and our cruiser promptly gave chase. The assumption was that it was a vessel bound for the U.S and merely crossed our path out in ocean. We are about 2300 mi. From New York.
Kerensky and I danced on deck this morning. Paddy McDonough and I watch the sunset on ocean and it was beautiful for me to describe.
Nothing of interest during this period except that we sighted the coasts of Ireland on one side and Scotland on the other as we sailed down the north channel onto Irish sea on our way to the port of Liverpool where we disembarked. The transports were all anchored and surely presented a wonderful view as they lay "at ease." There was a continuous passing off smaller craft on the river from both sides loaded with people going to their work in Liverpool on one side and Bristol on the other-both being large and industrious looking cities. Ferry boats took us from transport to the docks of Bristol where we were landed with our packs and barracks-bags (which were very heavy). Marching to the Great Western Railway station we boarded those queer -looking little coaches of a typical English railroad that looked so much like a toy railroad in comparison to our systems. After once starting, they are capable of quite good speed. Leaving Bristol we rode through a beautiful and picturesque section of England where there was a succession of very pretty scenery, The red slated roofs on the the red and white walls of the English style houses were greatly enhanced by many finely shaped green trees and well-kept lawns full of pretty flowers. Stopped long enough at Birmingham to have a cup of coffee which gave us a chance to stretch our somewhat tired and cramped legs for we were rather crowded in those stuffy little compartments, six of us riding in each compartment with our packs , barrarks bags and rifles .From Birmingham we traveled south through England gazing on the scenic beauty and marvelling at the intense cultivation of every available strip of ground, so unlike the methods pursued by our American farmers .Everywhere there are long stretches of well trimmed hedge, this being the style of fence used by the English farmers to separate their small farms. Cows were plentiful in the pastures. Stopped for orders in the historic old college town of Oxford which gave me an opportunity for a good view of the city and all the university buildings. An aviation field opposite the city afforded us a view of a large number of aeroplanes used for instruction purposes.
Passed an interment camp along the railroad which was full of German prisoners of war and the sight of them caused some excitement amongst our troops as that was our first view of a live German soldier close at hand. My first impressions were that they looked very slow and stupid. We detrained at Winchester, a very old and rustic looking place of large size. Our first ideas of English streets were very disgusting as they wormed about the town amongst rows of old well built houses like the trail of a snake, up hill and down. Our camp here was at the edge of the town on top of a hill and adjoining an English " Tommies " camp with whom we did not dare to mingle in their cafe or canteen, due to the fact that the American troops who proceeded us in this camp had a tendency to beat up the Tommies on the least excuse on account of their extreme arrogance. Our menu while here consisted of salmon balls, orange marmalade, tea, goat butter and hard tack and there was more than one grunt of disapproval. Our first night in barracks here some of us decided to cut up a little and it was Sergeant Harry Jordan's wish that we have a little oriental dancing and due to the fact that I was always dancing at the slightest chance (unfortunately for me) selected me for the main act. Mounted on a platform made of two boards laid across two bunks, with an army blanket wrapped around my body, waiting for the Sergeant to make his introductory speech. I was all ready to do my act as Fatima, the Queen of the Orient. The barracks was in darkness and as he flashed a flashlight on the place where I stood, I unfolded the blanket ready to dance when some ungrateful wretch in amongst those two hundred and fifty company mates of mine threw a hob nail shoe right in the pit of my stomach which settled the show then and there. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I was avenged, for the next evening I poured a bucket of ice cold water over him as he lay in his bunk and he had to get out of it and share up with another bunkie for that evening. But there were no more oriental shows attempted.
Arriving at Southampton, we were loaded aboard boats and waited for darkness to set in when we slid noiselessly across the English Channel and landed at Le Havre, France. In the camp at Le Havre we disposed of our barracks bags and regulation hats and were issued overseas caps. Many of the boys had purchased good Stetson hats out of their own pockets and rather than throw them in the pile with regular army issue stuff, they traded them to the French people for a bottle of wine. A high wire netting fence surrounded our camp here which kept us penned up but the French natives passed the bottles thru the fence to us in exchange for hats, shoes, blankets, or what have you? There were also many Belgian people located near this camp.
Left Le Havre for a place called Oeu.
Arriving at Oeu, we were met at the station by a Scottish band of bagpipers, who looked very odd in their Kilties, But who were quite adept with their bagpipes. From here we marched to Incheville, France for a course of instruction under the English for a number of weeks. Took up field maneuvering, bomb throwing, signaling, and and numerous other instructions which were interesting, but our feelings for the English were always at odds and for an evening in the French cafes, there were plenty of spirited arguments. There was an English supply train detachment located in this village and they seemed to feel as though the place belonged to them until our outfit convinced them differently. Our eats, all the time we had any dealings with the English in this section, were hardly sufficient and more than one of our boys went to bed hungry. Fortunately for me, I was listed as the company barber and therefore could pick up extra money in my spare time. After working an hour or two after drill in the afternoon, I would take what I earned and go to the village where I could buy some figs, jam, goat butter, and a slice of bread and taking it back to camp, I would call Harry Jordan, Pat McDonough, Eddie Brown, John (Huskey) and myself and we would sit under an apple tree and satisfy our hunger. Pat and I bunked in an old factory building here and the floor was pretty hard thru our one army blanket spread out. Later I moved over into a farmer's barn where John's squad was billeted and Huskey and I bunked together until he was taken sick with the mumps and sent to a hospital at a place I think they called Dieppe. We were in training here until June 5, 1918.
Marched to Blangey and billeted for the night.
Londonieres and billeted in barns.
June 7th and 8th
Hiked to Neufchatel where we were issued rifles in exchange for the ones we had been carrying. We were seeing plenty of the French people by this time as we advanced farther into the heart of France and at first they seemed very queer to us. What with their oxen hitched to their funny framed wagons and plodding along the road with their wooden shoes, they seemed odd to us and when they spoke rapidly in their native tongue, a continual babble gabble like so many geese! At least so it sounded to us. That were more receptive to us though than the English and we warmed to them more quickly.
Hadol, France and from there to De Urimenil here where we drilled for some time. A very small place, but as it was a billeting place for the troops and on the the way towards the sector we were headed for, we encamped here for drilling. My first glimpse of the French Chasseurs with their attractive blue uniforms and caps and who are a crack part of the French Army. A detachment was located here and we came in contact with them of an evening in the little stores and cafes in the village.
Left De Urimenil by truck and arrived at Felleringen, Alsace near the Swiss boarder where we continued our drilling. I shall never forget this place for I most of all the placed I saw in France. Nestling in a valley between mountains, it presented a picture not easily forgotten. As the sun rose over the top of the range in the morning you could look up at the rich green mountain side down which a clear stream wound it's way like a silver thread and see herds of cows, sheep, and mountain goats grazing always tended by the peasant boys in their picturesque Alsatian costumes and as they watched their herds they occupied their time practicing on some sort of horn or trumpet which they carried with them. As these sounds floated down into the valley, attracting your attention to the view above you on the mountainside, they beauty of it simply could not be resisted and if it is ever my good fortune to ever visit France again I am going right back to Felleringen in Alsac to revive old memories. The roses in the gardens here seem so large and beautiful. On the 4th of July our band gave a concert in the yard of the large and wonderful Catholic church here and the villagers and our boys could not have mixed together more sociably than what they did on this occasion. A large number of the boys taught the young French folk how to dance American style which they were quite anxious to learn. Huskey and I were quite fortunate in making the acquaintance of three gentlemen of the village at the local hotel known as " Hotel De Boeuf " and they surely treated us royally during our stay in Felleringen. They seemed of some importance in the village as one was the Burgermeister, another a munitions manufacturer and the third a designer in one of the large lace factories located in the village near the town. They spoke French, Swiss, and English and when they discovered that John and I could also, a very warm friendship sprang up between us when we found we could all converse agreeably and this led to more than one pleasant meeting of an evening during our stay there. I have a warm spot in my heart for the pretty little town of Felleringen, France.
Hiked to the De Galbert section in the Vosges Mts. where we were to take over our first trenches, arrived there on July 9th.
Relieved an American outfit who had been holding these trenches and that night I went on guard on number 3 post at midnight. We are now in the first stages of the great World War and this is the beginning point for our outfit the 138th Regiment, this being our first direct contact with the enemy lines. We were told that this had been a quiet sector for several years. but the way things progressed, I felt that someone had lied, for I had no more than assumed my position than it seemed as if all hell had turned loose and everything was on fire. The night was very dark but out in No Man's Land beyond our parapet the German patrols heard the noise of changing guards in our trenches and cut loose with a charge from their trenches. A German " Potato Masher" grenade exploded in front of my post throwing dirt all over me and at the same time they sent up some red flares to furnish light for them which made it seem as if everything was on fire. Could see nothing in the darkness, but fired my clip of 5 bullets in the direction from which the grenade came and for the rest of the watch on guard, I was not molested. Such was my "Baptism of Fire". While in these trenches Lt. Sutherland of St. Louis and of our company and myself took some snapshots with his camera.
Left the trenches and arrived at Kruth on July 20th where we remained in barracks for several days. Went to a French picture show the first night we were there and had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a refuge from the war zone who was a wood chopper in the vicinity of Kruth and he invited me to his home where we partook of a very enjoyable lunch.
Aboard trucks we left for Saulxures. While in this area we drilled and were issued new clothing. Had a nice stay in this place. We were billeted in a little town adjoining Saulxures, where there was a large lace and thread factory. Pat and I were bunking in a hallway of a barn, next to a stall containing a cow and a goat so we did not lack company and we tried to be considerate enough not to disturb there evening rest. occasionally a chicken or two wandered over our bunk but did not cause us any undue concern. There was a camp of Russian soldiers located on the outskirts of Saulxures who where employed chopping wood in the forest. They could speak polish, so one Sunday afternoon Budziewiski and Golumbienski, two polish soldiers in our company, took me with them to spend the afternoon at this Russian camp and I must admit it was a pretty well spent, before we were through. A blanket spread under a willow tree, three Russian soldiers, two polish soldiers, myself, a convenient French canteen with plenty of champagne and a Swiss refugee lad to get it. For us furnished the ingredients for one of the largest afternoons I witnesses while in France. I still prize as one of my souvenirs, a wide leather belt presented to me by one of the Russian soldiers as a remembrance, which by the way, is very nattily worn over the blouses as a necessary part of their uniform. I could'nt speak a word to them but Bud did all the interpreting a we had a very successful day. Bud returned to our camp in time for "retreat" and Golumbienski and I remained at the Russian camp a while longer. To me was entrusted the job of getting Goldy back to our camp and probably he does not remember what a time I had with him alongside the narrow-gauge railroad track before I succeeded in getting him home.
Left Saulxures and arrived at Le Collet in the Voges Mt. where we were billeted for some time in the barracks completely hidden from the enemy under the sheltering thickness of the pine woods. Spent most of my time doing barber work. One day the lieutenant in charge of battalion headquarters sent word for me to report there and before doing so found a Cadillac limousine with driver, awaiting me with orders to drive me to the general's hut at divisional headquarters to do his tonsorial work. It is costmary for all men in service to salute an officer's car with it's flag on the radiator whenever it passes them at any time and you can imagine the chesty feeling. I could not help but entertain, to have them saluting me as I passed along the lines on the way to general's quarters. You could easily pardon this feeling if you've been in the ranks yourself and knew it was a thing you had to do yourself whenever the occasion demanded it. We had plenty of opportunities here of watching the anti-aircraft guns shell the boche airplanes as they circled over the woods trying to locate are our camp. Lying back in the grass one afternoon, I saw a shell rise from a gun hidden in the woods somewhere and make a center hit breaking the German plane in half and setting it on fire high in the air. It did not take him long to land!
Hiked from our position at Le Collet over a long and quite scenic road to Gerardmen, a rail-head, where troops and supplies were brought from points in France. Was billeted here on the second floor of an old house near the catholic church. Were stationed here for two days.
Marched to the small town of Corcieux at the edge of which there were some French barracks and in which we were quartered for two days. which we spent mostly inside the barracks due to the fact that there was unusual German airplane activity over this camp and we were compelled to keep under cover as much as possible to prevent the birdmen from seeing any undue troop movement in that vicinity. A French canteen had some very good champagne and the afternoon that we packed our rolls to leave camp, John Huskey, Tillie Tyra and myself sat down around the corner of the canteen building and enjoyed some of this said champagne.
At La Houssiere, a short distance from Corcieux, we boarded the train for Luneville. I said the train but I must offer apologies for that statement, as the little chicken-coop box cars with their signs " 40 Hommes and 8 Chevaux," looked more like a cattle train. We traveled at night on this trip and in the particular car (or matchbox) I was in, we were so crowded you could barely move. I attempted sleep during the night and from sheer fatigue managed to grab a few winks. But when daylight broke, before I could raise my head, I had to shove some dirty brute's hob-nail shoes out of my face where he had parked them sometime during the night. I didn't blame him though under the circumstances, for probably my feet were in some other fellows face as they felt as though that were not connected to the rest of my body due to the fact that another fellow was sleeping lying across my midsection. Some ride we had but lots of fun with it!
Marched to Vigneuil and billeted here until September 9th, in barracks where we had to keep under cover pretty well on account of the "Boche aeroplanes" . Remember this place well on account of the fact that there were quite a number of trees of large purple plums and we ate our share of them.
Raining. And a cold and dreary one too. Our march led us to Monnacourt, where we billeted in the wet woods. Pat and I pitched our pup tent under a couple of trees and built it over a pile of small branches which we cut off the trees and spread on the ground, with our slickers spread over them to keep the running water along the ground from wetting our backs as we tried to sleep.
In rain and mud, we marched thru Nancy at night to billet at Villers. Such a night! Pitch dark, no lights, continual rain and plenty of mud. It was surely miserable for us to have to circle the town twice under conditions like those, but such was the case, due to the fact that our leader lost the road in the darkness, which compelled us to go over the same route twice in the continual rain that was pouring down and no need to state we were like a bunch of drowned rats. Bill Armstrong of our company became so fatigued here that he dropped out of ranks and spent the night at Nancy, rejoining us the next day.
More rain and mud for our hike from Villers to Champeneville where we pitched tents on the wet ground.
Hiked thru the mud to a woods ten kilometers from Champeneville where we camped for six days. Many German planes are flying over the woods and we hear a continual bombing going on in the direction of Nancy.
Put in the day drilling in the woods here. Saw many Algerians in the woods here as there are two divisions located in this vicinity who are being used as laborers on the roads hereabouts. They have their regulation outfits on which consist of little red fez on their head, red short jackets and blue full-cut pantaloons which make them look very odd to us. We are on the ST. Mihiel front here. Nancy was subjected to a bombing last night which caused many of the residents to leave in haste. There is a saw mill and a brewery a short distance down the road from our camp. Huskey, who has been attached to the Scout section of our battalion (Personal Note from Robert Huskey, Found out from my dad that grandpa told him that he was working as a "sniper"), came over to see me and we sat on a hillside with a bunch of our company fellows, singing and making merry, as it was a warm moonlit evening and very pleasant.
Again we announce Rain! But it is payday and everybody is happy in spite of the rain. We are in reserve here at St Mihiel ready to be rushed to the front if needed.
10am and we are leaving the woods where we slept and floundered around for six days, marched thru ankle deep mud, to a place about 10 Kilometers distant, where after a short rest, we boarded a fleet of French trucks for a 75 mile ride to the Verdun sector. While we were resting, Pat and I ate a can of salmon and some hard tack. We had a rough crowded ride on the trucks. Passed thru the nice town of Toul where we noticed soldiers of all countries engaging in the war. Noticed two or three aviation fields adjoining the town and also a very beautiful cathedral here. An amusing incident occurred while crossing the bridge leading into the city. Three young women in nurses street garb, stood midway on the bridge, eating Malaga grapes. As our truck passed them, I extended my hand for some grapes, saying " Bon Jour Mademoiselle" and as she placed a bunch of grapes in my hand, she answered back in plain old honest-to-god American, " Don't kid yourself, I am Yank the same as you are", and and laughed to think that I had mistaken her for a French miss. And , of course, the rest of the boys in the truck gave me the laugh but I got the grapes anyway. We started on our ride at 4pm Wensday evening and rode all night. It was a clear moonlight night and as we passed numerous French 155's, American infantry in units in trucks, medical corps, American artillery units and bodies of men of all branches of service, all traveling in the same direction. We were getting near the battle front and roads were literally alive with moving troops of all descriptions which was quite a spectacle as seen by night.
Rain for a short time in the morning. Passed thru several towns that had been torn to pieces by bombing. A large church in one place was only a skeleton. Other buildings were leveled to the ground, a mass of ruins. We were unloaded at a place called Baricourt and hiked across country to Foucacourt where we found the billets (hay barns) were occupied so we plowed thru mud and water to a woods some distance from town where Pat and I got busy and pitched our tent as it started raining again. We haven't eaten anything since wednesday noon and as this is 12 o'clock Thursday, we feel a bit hungry, so we opened a can of beans and poured them into our mess pans and used the empty can to make some coffee. Pat and I have made coffee a number of times in the woods where we have camped but none seemed to taste as good as this! There is a large aviation camp at the outskirts of this woods. Our kitchen got lost somewhere and we arrived here tired and worn from riding all night and with nothing to eat but the beans we had, but the officers would not let us go to the little village of Foucacourt where we perhaps could have bought something to eat off the villagers, with our own money. Seems as though our outfit has always been half hungry ever since we landed in France and many of the boys have spent a considerable part of their pay for something to eat. Our officers say it can't be helped but the feeling seems to be that they are not going : to the front" for us, especially since other outfits that we meet tell us that they eat fairly good considering the problem it is to provide food stuffs over here. Some of our men do not hesitate to state that our officers are not losing out on their eats, good beds and their champagne but i guess that is part of the privileges of being an officer.
Suprised by a visit from LeRoy Rogiers of ST. Jacobs, Ill. who is a corporal in the 124th Field Artillery, 32nd Division, who are camped in a place near us. His outfit took part in the bombardment of Mont Sec near Metz where we were in the reserve lines in support. He told me Bud Lory's outfit ( 5th Field Artillery) was located near them but he did not get to see Buddy or Fulbert Beck either one. We left Foucacourt at midnight, thru mud and a misting rain on our way to the front and we passed many French 155's resting beside the road. Also passed the American 60th Field Artillery and the 124th Field Artillery all headed for the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Walked 15 kilometers and arrived at a place where there were a lot of good, dry billets but for some reason we pitched our pup tents on the wet ground under a tree. our eats consisted of a piece of bread and some " corned willie". We're issued some coffee and sugar for our breakfast but were not allowed to build a fire, so that part of the ration did no do us much good for breakfast. Am going to lie down for a short nap but am very hungry and also worn out for at least three weeks. And I'm not singing the "Blues" either, for it's a actual fact for I feel like my stomach is touching my backbone. Arrived at this camp at 6:30 am on Sept 20th , have been walking since midnight of the 19th . Slept from 7:30am to 1 o'clock and was called to go on a ration detail. Left camp at 7:30 pm in the evening on a 17 Kilometer hike. It was a clear, beautiful moonlight night, ideal for hiking, but the men were all so worn out from the lack of rest and proper food, that they were all hiking on their nerve. It was the most grueling hike I have indulged in so far and I was genuinely glad at it's ending. At Aquaville we passed a number of " tanks" and numerous troops. Passed several towns that had been shelled by artillery fire and the ruin was complete for there was not a single house left intact. At Newvilly, while we were waiting for moving orders, a long range Boche cannon was shelling the road we were stopping on and quite a few shells dropped within 100 feet of us, which caused us to wish to keep on moving out of range for wherever they landed they always left an ugly looking hole in the ground. From the last village up to the woods in which out dugouts are located, there is a camouflaged road built with walls of canvas or burlap, painted green like the trees to screen approaching troops and supplies. Aerial activity here is very strong.
Slept until 11:30 and woke up feeling starved, for our last meal which was 4pm yesterday only consisted of a small portion of coffee. Today we had a cup of coffee, slice of bread and a can of " corned willie" for the day's meal. Picked some blackberries to satisfy my hunger but we can not go very far from our dugouts on account of cannon shells being heaved over quite frequently by the Heines and also aeroplanes flying over head. Last night as we entered the woods in which our dugouts are located, an aerial duel took place over our heads between one of our planes and a meddlesome German who was snooping around over our lines and the rat-a-tat-tat of their guns was thrilling for a time until Heinie thought it best to hit for his side of the battle line. Sergt. Neville in charge of our platoon, was all "vin-blanced" up and becoming rather excited, rushed us into the dugouts in a hurry but not until the duel overhead was all over with. Our dugouts by the way are about ten feet underground and bomb-proof ,but oh! what a place the dugout was that I was in! little Tillie Tyra from Texas, that slept across from my bunk said that the walls were so full of cooties it looked like the walls were moving, but he got angry when I told him he got hold of a bad bottle of cognac. For sanitary reasons we had to sleep feet to feet. Pat's bunk joined mine and we had gone to bed but a few minutes when he cut loose with a yell and a kick and when i asked him if he was in the same fix that Tillie Tyra was, he said a big rat ran across his chest. believe me, I put on my overseas cap and pulled my blanket over my head for I didn't want any of them running over my face. Yesterday evening we passed the 91st Division and today saw some of the 60th Field Artillery fellows in the woods. A little narrow gauge railroad passes in front of our dugout which is used to transport supplies and ammunition.
Today there is ceaseless work and scurrying about of the different artillery batteries who are placing their guns which are thick as flies and of all sizes. There are so many guns here that in places they are set hub to hub and all are camouflaged with a roof or canopy of burlap covered with leaves or painted green. "Old Fritz" is in for a merry old time and shortly too, for the "doughboys" and the " wagon soldiers" are all set for the word "Over The Top" on the 26th.
Went on a detail to Battalion Headquarters at 8 o'clock in the evening. 23 men of the company and myself had to go on a detail for our next day's rations and we walked twelve miles (round trip) through rain and mud ankle deep without getting any rations at all. Such a night, wet to the skin and so dark you could hardly see to walk. The roads were full of trucks, wagons, cannons, horses, caissons, ambulances, and automobiles, all floundering along in the mud and rain. I never saw such a gathering of war material in one place. Passed thru a village that was being shelled and saw a big one land on the railroad tracks near where we were and you can be sure that the part where it landed, went to pieces. If you have any doubts about it, I haven't, for I saw it leave and it was entirely too close to be comfortable! We got back to the dugout about 2am.
Most of this day was spent in and near our dugout. Had two fairly good meals today. The little town near our dugout is known as Abbreville. About 6pm the Germans shelled the road, steady between this town and our camp which was being used by our transports. In the afternoon we got orders to pack all our surplus belongings in a roll and put a tag on it with our name and company, which was to be called for after we returned from the front. If we returned for it, good and well, and if we went "West" during action, we could have no more use for the roll. All we took into the fighting line was our mess kit, canteen, helmet, gas mask, ammunition, and rifle. And that was enough! Left all my barber tools in my roll. A good many of these rolls were never called for after the battle.
All day there has been a nervous atmosphere about the dugouts and the officers quarters, for tomorrow morning will tell the tale for many of us! We have all been in minor activities since we landed in France but this is to be the supreme test, and from all the information we can gather, the turning point of the struggle. I have been assigned to our machine gun company as a carrier during this action and Huskey, my chum is still with the scout section as a "sniper" and sharpshooter. They say "going over the top" makes a fellow feel queer and unsettled and I guess it does but when John came over to see me for the last time before the action started, we sat down under a tree and very soberly talked things over and agreed that if either survived the shock, he would immediately look or inquire about the other and the bidding each other goodbye we never saw each other again until the action was over, for our outfits were stationed at different points during the drive and his work and mine were of different natures. Funny how some fellows have a premonition that they will not come out of it alright. John, Pat, myself and a lot of the boys in the company were supremely confident that we would make the "hill" as they say, but some of the others were very down cast all day. Eugene Comisky of St. Louis, towards evening, called me aside and pulling a photo of his wife and baby from under his shirt bosom, showed it to me and , with tears in his eyes, told me he would never see them again. When I tried to cheer him up , he said he felt as if he were going "west" as soon as the struggle started and later developments proved it so, for I passed his dead body on the battlefield about twenty or thirty minutes after we went over the top. Was in the army with him since 1917 and didn't even know he was married. The same experience happened to our company clerk Harold Worthy of Jerseyville, Ill. went to the company quarters in the evening to have my papers fixed up for identification purposes and he remarked that he was surely glad he had his paper work all fixed up and in proper order, for that was the last clerical work he would have to do and when I asked him what he meant, he told me he was "going over the river" early in the morning. I would not believe him but we found him in a shell hole, a short time after we went over, with a machine gun bullet hole squarely between the eyes. His Cousin, of the same name and place in Illinois, was found a short distance from him. It has always seemed strange to me that these boys should have felt that way. during the night of Sept. 25th we were ordered to advance through the Vauquois Woods to our positions in dugouts on the sides and top of a hill to await the "zero" hour.
Passing through these woods in inky darkness we had to keep our gas masks on and walk with one hand on the the fellows shoulder ahead, for the Germans were pounding the woods around us with gas shells with every kind of "smell " in them and we would have choked without our masks. Reaching the dugouts , we remained in them while our artillery units started a barrage which lasted from midnight until 5:45 on the morning of the 26th which was the "zero" hour for us. Promptly at 5:45 a.m the big guns were as silent as if they had all vanished and we came up out of our dugouts and with our bayonets on the end of our guns, many smiling and with a cigarette in their mouth, we went over the top after the "Heines", through a fog of shell smoke, glare of rockets and signals that would have been a credit to any Fourth Of July celebration. The pyrotechnic display would have been wonderful to watch had it not been that we were engaged in a more strenuous task and we had no time to absorb the beauty of it. The Germans were so heavily fortified on Vauguois Hill that it was quite an effort to dislodge them, but our artillery literally tore the top off the hill, forcing them to retreat to Cheppy where they made their next stand, but not until after some very healthy fighting in the hills and fields beyond Vauguois. It was rumored about our outfit that we lost 6000 men in this mornings engagement. I know that some of my best army buddies went "west" in this the opening day of our fight. We were battling the famous Potsdam Guards of Germany who were massed on this front to stop the advance but they were driven back in spite of their fierce resistance. And so it went on for six days and nights, through rain and mud, eating very little, a cigarette occasionally and a drink of water here and there ( which was a scarce article) and the the nearest picture to hell I ever wish to imagine, for the awful uproar of exploding artillery shells all about you, leaving large gaping holes in the ground, grenades, one pounders, machine gun fire, barrages, airplanes, rifle fire and gas shells was simply terrible and made the earth tremble about you. How a human being can go thru such things and live to tell the tale is hard to understand. It certainly is not very soothing to the nerves.
We drove the Boche out of the Cheppy and across fields to Exermont where they entrenched themselves for another stand and it was here that we were relieved by the First Division, U.S. Army who continued the driving backwards of the Germans. At Cheppy , just at the outskirts of the village is where I captured my first German who was hiding in a dugout and whom I turned over to the Military Police at Cheppy but not until I had disposed of three other friends of his who were dodging in and out of the shrubbery which grew along a little narrow gauge railroad which ran through the edge of the village of Cheppy. The Germans left Cheppy in such haste that we found clothing , boots, guns and ammunition scattered everywhere where they had to abandon the things in their hurry to retreat. My shoes and socks were so thoroughly rain soaked that I immediately donned a pair of German Infantry coarseboots, which I wore for several days until I could get a pair of American hobnails off the battle field. The fields and hollows about Cheppy were alive with machine gun nests and "pill boxes" which were made of steel walls and a machine gun mounted on a moveable arm inside, the barrel extending through a slit in the wall facing the enemy position and a graduated scale of heights in feet, painted on the wall next to the gun. Our baby tanks surely made short work of most of those " pill boxes" as they were called. Brave and noble fellows, those boys who were in the Tank Corps, for they rode right into the very flame of a gun in order to demolish the machine gun nest, or else they were traveling over a mine infested field assisting the advance of the infantrymen! I have all due respect for those lads in their little caterpillar tanks, for they were a game lot of battlers and got plenty of action.
Being relieved by the 1st Division at a point just out of Exermont, we withdrew to Cheppy again where we were given orders to stay in support of the new division at the front, so we "dug in" for the night in an open field at the outskirts of the town. At the end of our drive when we reassembled at Cheppy, the first roll call of our company produced 28 men out of 250 who were there to answer "present and accounted for". This number was added to eventually after some more of the men located their outfit. This was the first time I had seen John Huskey since we went into action and you never saw two dirty looking, tired fellows more glad to see each other than we were, for both of us came out of it all without even a scratch for a souvenir. And we were dirty too! Both had a clay mud mixture in a 6 day growth of whiskers, mud caked clothing, torn raincoats and leggings and we looked more like tramps than soldiers but we were happy just the same that we were both safe and sound, for the time being anyway. After we had chatted for awhile about our experiences, we took our shovels and dug a hole the length of our body and into which we put some grass and weeds, spreading our raincoats over it for a bed and using our helmets for pillows. Digging the hole was not so much for the purpose of sleeping as it was for protection from the gas shells and shrapnel which the Germans heaved over us all night long. In the morning when we pulled our stiff and tired bones out of our resting place, everything and everybody was covered with a heavy white frost and John and I looked like two ragged weather beaten roosters but we were so happy to be alive we didn't care much what we looked like. The First Division having driven the Germans farther back, we made preparations to retire to a peace area.
With Sommies as our landing place, we started hiking back through Abbreville and Azueville, camping overnight in a woods at Beaulieu.
Stayed in barracks at Beaulieu woods all day and night but we did not get much rest here as there were too many ration details going every few minutes. Was made " Acting Corporal" of the 5th squad at this place and my buddy, John, was Corporal of the 6th squad. I did not keep , or want, my Corporalship as I was doing barber work and had no time to take charge of a squad.
We started hiking early and walked 10 lilometers back thru Foueacourt and Vaubecourt, to an open field at the edge of the small village of Sommies where we pitched tents and started drilling. Our division artillery passed thru the village in the evening to a camping place beyond us. recieved quite a bit of welcome at this place. Saw a couple of French Territorial "poilus" cutting some choice steaks off the flank of a departed horse near our camp. Most of the company are afflicted with acute cases of dysentery or enteritis as the doctors class it. John, Elbert Lamn of Alton, Ill. and myself are all in the same pup tent with the same ailment. So weak I can't drill. Confined to quarters.
Sunday, but you'd never know it if you didn't look at the calender. Spent the day fixing up the camp, that is those that were able to move about. The air is full of aeroplanes as there are two aviation camps near here. Church services this evening. The big guns are continuously roaring in a heavy fire towards the front.
Pancakes for breakfast. Rained all day with some heavy hail in between spurts. Sick as a dog and in bed all day.
Nothing but drill today but I didn't , for I was sick in bed the blessed day long. Heard the band play for "Retreat" tonight. The first time for a long time.
So weak today can hardly stand. Had reported several times at the infirmary for treatment but they always gave you C.C. or O.D. pills for anything and everything and told you to go back to drill, no matter whether you were ready to drop over or not. So close to caving in today that I reported to the Battalion Infirmary on orders of our lieutenant, for removal to a base hospital, but they returned me to the company, marked duty, where upon Capt. Bottger returned to the infirmary with me and raised such "hell" around there that Lt. Broadhead tagged me "Acute Enteritis" and sent me by ambulance, with a bunch of similar cases, to the 139th Field Hospital evacuation camp of the 110th Sanitary Train where we stayed all night at Vaubecourt where the Field Hospital was located at this time. Gave my German Lugar pistol to Ernest Jones of the Sanitary Train to take care of for me until I came back from the base hospital. Yesterday 125 allied planes flew over our camp with a roaring of motors worse than thunder and we heard later that they had bombed Metz with 340 tons of bombs, causing great havoc with that German stronghold.
Had rice, jam, and a biscuit for breakfast after which we were loaded in an ambulance and taken to the evacuation camp where we turned in all our equipment and were tagged again preparatory to being sent to the base hospital. I had a German saw tooth bayonet that I had taken off a German prisoner in the Argonne drive and which I kept for a souvenir, but at the Evacuation Camp they said we could not take anything extra with us to the base, so I gave it to one of the Red Cross nurses located there. She was from somewhere around Decatur, Ill. I wonder if she ever came back alive to the U.S. I recall pasting a slip of paper on the handle with my name and company on it and the date and place of battle it was taken, as a souvenir for her. At 12 o'clock we were loaded aboard a real American hospital train, fully equipped with all medical necessities and nice clean beds to rest you weary bones. Just before leaving at 3 o'clock a nurse came aboard and gave us some cigarettes and hot chocolate. Quite different treatment than what we received from our own company medical corps, I assure you! We have quite a few wounded German prisoners aboard our train who are also being taken to a hospital somewhere in France. Two young German lads, (prisoners) in my coach tell me they were glad they were mad prisoners as they were taken from their homes in Germany and put in service very much against their wishes. One had his arm splintered by shrapnel and the other was wounded in the neck and chest. There were about 400 German prisoners working in and near Vaubacort doing all kinds of odd jobs. Passed through Dillote where there were some large French barracks. A new cemetery full of fresh graves lay just across the road and a bunch German prisoners were cleaning and fixing up about the place. Large bunches of Indo-Chinese subjects of France are mending the roadbed of the railroad over which we are traveling. They are funny creatures, with their red fez hats, blooner pants, dark complexions and black teeth and chattering away in their strange dialect.
Wonder what Huskey is doing? Poor buddy, he is as sick as I am but I believe he would rather die in that water soaked hole of Sommies before he would report back the second time after they had refused to mark him hospital on his first examination at the Battalion Infirmary! The ornery inexperienced pill slingers!
At Laheycourt we passed an American roundhouse with plenty of engines in it. A beautiful historic old cathedral located here. A stockade full of German prisoners also. Harsman, Schulz, Bradenbeck, Jim Troublefield, Roy McCrady, Hans Johnson, and myself all members of K Co. 138th Infantry, are all in the same coach of the hospital train. Troops of all nations are to be seen in camps along the railroad and it is rather picturesque along here especially after just coming from the bleak and dreary battle fields. Below Auzecourt we stopped for quite awhile and I talked to a bunch of drafted boys from Iowa, who were being sent up to the 91st Division (they were to our right in the Argonne drive) to be used as replacement troops. One of them told me he had only had a months training. Large cathedral at this place. Also an aviation field where we saw them towing in a crippled plane on a trailer. It is 5:45pm and dark so we can not see anything from the rear window.
After riding all night woke up at 5:45 am as we pulled into St. Florentin-Vergigny, which we had passed thru once before on our way from Herol to Incheville. It is a French railhead and very busy little place. A whole train load of French Arabians passed us here. Town of Brienon at 6am where many canal boats and small water craft are to be seen. Also a large French camp of wooden billets. We are traveling towards the south of France and the roads, woods, and rustic beauty of everything is wonderful. At Chenill-Apoigny large warehouses are being erected. An abundance of vineyards are noticeable in this section of country. It is level, prairie land here, and intensely cultivated, every foot of it, as far as the eye can see and it is wonderful to look out over the passing landscape and see the narrow strips of many colors and kinds of vegetation and trees, At Auxerre-St, Gervais which were reached at 7am there were four large beautiful old cathedrals, many warehouses, and to the left of the station, a wide open yard in which there were hundreds of aeroplanes, placed side by side. The canals and trees here beggar description for they are simply grand. Angry at 7:20am. Had breakfast of black coffee and a slice of bread. A rare sight here, an American windmill in a field near the tracks. Plenty of vineyards and big trees hereabouts. Town of Vincelles at 7:40am, a small place, but as usual with all such places, something of charm about it to make it picturesque. Passed Cravant-Bazarnes at 7:50 am where we saw loads and loads of cattle, evidently to be used for fresh meat for the American forces. It is raining. Sunshine would improve the ride about 100%. A train load of newly arrived Ohio draft rookies were on a siding here and were headed for the front for their "Initiation" ceremony! It was rather amusing to we fellows on the hospital train (who had all been in action already) to have several of these recruits yell over to some of our fellows " Hello Rookies !"
Pregilbert at 8am where the pretty canal (of which France has many) again runs parallel to the tracks. The hard, smooth white roads thru here are like a boulevard. The French attendant in our car told us that information had been received over the wire that the Kaiser a had given up and peace could be expected within 10 0r 15 days. Personally, I do not believe him.
Mailly-la-Ville at 815am near a high rocky crest and from the train it looked like a large beautiful old place. Passed, in succession, Chatel-Censoir, Caulauges-sur-Yonne and Surgy, where we saw a large flock of snow white turkeys and some odd, fat ducks. this little town looked unusually prim and tidy. Just out of this village are a goodly number of large columns of natural rock rising in the air on the crest of a hill and they appear as if they were carved by human hands instead of being worn by time and the elements of the weather.
Clamecy at 9:05am and a small railroad town. The French engines and cars, like the English ones, seem like toys compared to ours, at which the French natives look with wonder.
Maulot at 9:30 and Billy-sur-Noilly at 9:35am. here a unit of our Engineering Corps of the U.S. Army were making a road bed for another railroad. Etais, a place with an abundance of well trimmed hedges fences about the fields and homes. Several old fashion Holland style wooden windmills can be seen near the hills in the distance. The many snow white cows grazing in the green fields, with here and there a white macadam road winding about, makes a picture worth while.
Perroy at 10:20. Everywhere we see old men, women, or children herding their cows and goats in the fields, in the rain.
Donzy (Nievre) at 10:40am. where we stopped for orders. All small places are occupied by some unit of the American forces. Passed through Snilly-La Tour, St. Martin-St. Laureut which we reached at 11:30 and we started to eat dinner which consisted of coffee, cooked onions, and potatoes, a piece of beef, soup, piece of bread, and a spoon of molasses. Passed Cosne about this time. This was the largest medical base supply in France during the war. Near this place, on top of a large hill, is a French nobleman's chateau or home which surely was a lovely little town by itself. The Loire River runs parallel to the tracks here. Vineyards are still plentiful as this is all wine country. Pouilly-Sur-Loire, Mesves-Buley, Le Charite, Trousauges, Pougress-les-Eaux, Fourchambault, all small places which we passed thru reaching Nevers, an industrial city and railhead at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We backing into a siding here and a whole train load of the Michigan Aero Squadron pulled in on the track next to us. They were headed for the front. I think they were newly arrived units for they seemed to be very interested in the wounded Germans aboard our hospital train.
Anyone who has been here for awhile sort of loses his curiosity in looking at German prisoners. Nevers is a fairly large and thriving city with a fine old cathedral and a pretty canal where you can see teams or single horses drawing the boats along their way to their destinations. We reached Seincaze at 6:10pm and were pushed onto a siding where we remained until 11:30 that night after which we were pulled directly into the hospital grounds and unloaded, passing single file into a building where our "pedigree" was again taken and then we were assigned to our wards. A sergeant of the 137th Infantry, Bradenbeck, Schulz and myself were put in Ward II, Base Hospital No.35. It was 1am when we got to bed and very shortly the nurse brought a bowl of hot soup with some buttered bread which was all I had to eat since 11 o'clock in the morning. It was rather late to reach bed but nothing unusual around the hospital as there were trainloads of sick and wounded troopers arriving at all times of the night and they were accustomed to such things.
End of Volume I
Feel a little better this morning. I had oatmeal with milk and sugar, coffee, bread with butter and jam. Can't eat much though. The nice clean, white, grass, shell-holes, pup-tents, mud and water that I have slept in since reaching France not to mention the rat-infested, cootie-ridden dug-outs and it is with a restful sigh that I sank down on my bed for one peaceful nights sleep. The nurses here, who are American girls, are very nice, especially one slender little black-haired girl, whom one of the other nurses told me was named Miss Rusha Williams of California. She has a smile for one and all of the patients and is never too rushed but what she can find time to minister to your comfort and all the boys in her ward stand by her, to a man. God surely will reward her for all the trying times she undoubtedly encountered while attached to the hospital wards abroad. The poor lad, called Joe, across the aisle from me, surely is suffering. He is paralyzed from a machine gun bullet in his back and his mental and physical condition is pitiable. Boiled and beef and gravy, boiled potatoes, sliced tomatoes, stewed apples and bread for dinner. Gosh, if I had had this stuff up at the lines where I felt good and could eat it, I would have thought I was a King, all I can do here in the shape I am in ,is look at it.
Supper consisted of canned willie, mixed with onions and tomatoes, macaroni, bread, and coffee. Talked across the aisle to a fellow named Stewart, who formerly belonged to the 5th Field Artillery and he told me he knew Buddy Lory and Beck, who belong to the same outfit he used to!
Resting easy today with the exception that I still have acute stomach cramps and after the doctor had massaged my stomach thoroughly, the nurse gave me some peppermint drops. There seems to be an epidemic of what is called Spanish Influenza, of which many of the men are suffering. We have had a number of deaths in this camp from pneumonia, lung troubles, etc. Mars is the nearest town to this camp, known as Base 35.
While lying in bed this evening someone brought in a copy of the English "Dailey Mail" newspaper which relates that Germany has accepted the peace terms of the allies and the order has been passed to the troops to cease firing for 12 hours while a peace conference was held in neutral Switzerland before acceptance of these terms. Everyone in our ward seems cheerful at the prospects of an early end to hostilities. It has been a chilly, bleak and tiresome day.
Still have my cramps. today's paper states that the peace terms were not satisfactory to the Germans and hostilities would continue. On with the dance till until they have enough!
Breakfast consists of oatmeal, coffee, bread and jam but I am still eating crackers soaked in milk as that is all I am to have until further orders.
Thru the window I see alot of Chinese coolies about the grounds, with their queer, little conical hats. That are doing government work about the camp. Nevers, which is the largest city near our camp, is known in the US as the place where much of our good silverware is manufactured and then imported to the States for sale. raining today, as usual, and of course, very miserable. Joe in our ward, has been raising a rumpus again all evening.
More cramps but tried to eat some of the dinner which was composed of cold beans, sliced green tomatoes, bread and tea. Three Englishmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, enroute to Italy to join their unit, became lost and they applied at our mess hall for a feed which they received and continued on their way.
Peace is forgotten and they are battling on, that is, the allies are chasing the Huns back along the lines, the English and American forces preparing to take the city of Lille' while the French and Americans continue to advance all along their sectors, according to the evening papers.
Gloomy and looks like rain again this morning, being chilly as usual. A fellow from H CO. of our regiment, who was brought into our ward yesterday, told me that the 138th
(my outfit) had gone into action again on Oct. 15th at the Somnaedieu sector. Gosh, I hope John Huskey makes it through alright. Had severe cramps and pains again last night and the head nurse changed my diet back to broth and milk again, making me lie in bed all day on account of a change in condition. Did not sleep well last night as a number of the severe cases in the ward were yelling and groaning all night, especially the fellow in the bed next to me who was No. 23. My number is 25.
No change in the cold , damp weather as the sun refuses to shine. The ward orderly brought my clothes and I thought I was going to get out of bed but the doctor ordered them sent away again, so I remain in bed awhile longer.
Gee, this is an awful place! Never slept much last night on account of some of the patients raising the deuce in the ward and when it became daylight it was the same old kind of weather- cold , misty, foggy, dreary day. It's enough to give me the "lim- jams". See in a copy of the New York Herald where the allies have taken Ostend, Lille', and Douai and are at the edge of Bruges, rapidly driving the Germans out of Belgium.
Sunday and no different than any other day. "Joe and Choate" the two "nuts" in our ward had their usual fit of restlessness this morning for about 15b minutes. Things were somewhat livened up in the ward with an "honest-to-goodness" Victrola and even if the records were "old voters" they sure sounded good. Capt. Hunter, of California, who is in charge of this ward, informed a number of the patients who cannot be cured in a period of two months, that they are to be sent back to the U.S. tomorrow. The lucky (and still unlucky) devils!
Still no sunshine! A person would think that we are living in the Artic Region where the sunn never shines for 6 months! A miserable night of cramps and no sleep! Still on my broth and hot milk diet. Something is surely going to happen for the sun came out at noon and shone all afternoon! Everybody made a mark on the wall!
Oct 22 - Back to usual conditions this morning for it rained from 4 to 7 a.m. but the sun is trying to struggle thru the clouds. The homeward-bound patients are leaving for the states this morning and there is considerable excitement about the ward watching “Joe’s” departure, for they are all glad to be rid of his nightly whimpering, but also glad that the poor fellow is being removed to a place which can take care of him more fully. Poor lad, I hope he made the trip back home as easily as possible.
Oct 23 - Oh Lord, the sun is going to shine this morning. I heard no. 7, who was a sergeant, cross the “big river” yesterday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. Terrible! One groan, a long-drawn out one, and he passed out. He’s at rest, anyway. Meals are very light today on account of the water supply being shut off. Don’t affect me though for I have my broth and hot milk, haven’t I? We had some more graph phone music this evening. God! To lie on your back and hear music far from the noise of shells and the “hell” of the front, almost makes one forget that a war is going on!
Oct 24 - More rain. Will it ever stop?
Oct 25 - Ye Gods and little fishes! It’s raining again. And more broth and hot milk! Read magazines all day.
Oct 26 - Still raining, am still in bed and on my same diet and it’s getting monotonous.
Oct 27 - Sunday morning and rain. They promised to give me my clothes today and after they were brought to me I arose and dressed but when I got ready to stand up and walk,-well that was a different matter. After a bit I managed to outside the ward for a my first glimpse out of doors. The hillsides and woods in the distance show the beautiful tints of autumn and I long to be in our own woods at home. During the day some of us were moved over to the Convalescent camp and I am in Ward 8 with lots of other convalescents. This is a large place, composed of about 8 base hospitals, and consequently, thousands of men around them. Saw Bud Clancy yesterday and he told me he was in B.H. 62 with slight shell shock.
Oct 28 - Saw Hans Johnson and Jim Troublefield, of my own company. They are still feeling bad. The meals here are plentiful and good and for once, they have some good light bread.
Oct 29 - Feeling much better today! After helping police up around the company street, I spent the morning with Paul Ambuehl of Highland, who I discovered is a ward attendant in ward B, across the road from my ward. He told me Ray Spellerberg had come across with him and had been attached to a base hospital at Clermont. Was classified and marked “A” this afternoon and will be ready to return to my outfit. Won’t I be glad, for I will get to see John again and the rest of my company buddies!
Oct 30 - Wonder of wonders! Today is a beautiful, warm sunshiny, autumn day for a change! Put on a detail with a bunch of other fellows to put up some tents and cots, but I did not do much as the sergeant in charge and I spent most of the time talking. He is out of the 110th Signal Corps of our division and knows Corp. Valentine, a good friend of mine. The paper looks good today as it says that Austria-Hungary has surrendered. Saw Paul Ambuehl several times today.
Oct 31 - Another beautiful day. Troublefield, Green and myself took a walk up the road to where the annex joins the Convalescent Camp and saw Tom Hughes and talked a while. When we returned to camp, I was told by the orderly that at 1 p.m. I was to leave for the Convalescent Camp. We were quite a while in getting check through the office and taken to a tent, after which we were issued mess outfits and blankets. The mess line was two blocks long and there were four lines, two lines feeding at once on each side of the kitchen. The meal was awful here.
Nov 1 - After chilly sleeping in the tent all night, we got up for a very very slim breakfast. This afternoon a detail was sent to the Annex to pile wood, but if I recall correctly, I did not carry one stick of wood. After supper a couple of fellows and myself got a pass to go to the little adjoining town for a walk and a glass of wine. We were allowed out on pass from 6 to 10 p.m.
Nov 2 - Saturday and cloudy, gloomy day. We do not have the daily two hour drill today as we are to have an inspection of quarters. Went on a wood detail this morning but never carried a stick of it as I was in the Quartermasters Commissary all morning, helping move and check goods. Rested on my bunk all afternoon, in the tent, and after supper went for a stroll to the nearby village of St. Perize.
Nov 3 - Sunday. At breakfast this a.m. met a fellow named Earl Doherty of the 129th Field Artillery of our division who used to live near me on Nicholson Place in St. Louis. This afternoon, Volta Wildi, who is an attendant at B.H. 14 came over to see me and we witnessed at D-D score football game between the convalescent camp and the hospital team from Vehy. Rained hard most of the afternoon. Stayed in the tent tonight, not feeling well, the dampness having affected my stomach again.
Nov 4 - Our friend, rain is here again! Most of the fellows in my tent went to our Headquarters office and filed applications for classification, before the Disability Board, so they could be moved on to the Replacement Camp. This p.m. we all took a bath. Stood “Retreat” and “Passed in Review” this evening.
Nov 5 - Nice, sunshiny day, so we were taken on an “exercise” walk thru St. Parize and Le Chalet after which we were allowed to rest in the afternoon. Took a walk to St. Parize after supper and after partaking of some very good wine, sat about the café’ in this typical small French village and just watched the different types of villagers who came within range. Very interesting.
Nov 6 - More rain and gloom! Did not sleep well last night. Troubled with a bad dream in which it seemed as though something was happening to my buddy, John, up at the “front”. Hope he is safe and sound. Was reclassified “A” this afternoon before the Disability Board and hope to be moving back to my outfit soon. Reports say Austria has surrendered and accepted all of the allies terms, leaving Germany to “go it” alone. Well, she will be alone too after we get through with her!
Nov 7 - Waiting for “further orders” this a.m. and we are all cooped up in our tents like chickens, for the ground outside is flooded. Last night (like most other nights) our sergeant in charge of this tent, who is a marine, came in “loaded” to the gills and the boys had considerable fun out of him. Everyone is feeling good this evening on account of reading the headline in the paper, which says “German Starts For Front With White Flag.” I spent the evening in camp, retiring early.
Nov 8 - Left the Convalescent Camp this morning and with a lot of other fellows, marched 14 kilometers to a fairly, large place named Nevers where they fed us cold beans and bread for dinner and then penned us up n a yard like a herd of cattle. A large bunch of German prisoners were marched past our camp. The stores in Nevers carry fine stocks of goods as we could observe as we marched along the streets to the camp. Plenty of well-dressed, good-looking girls, too! Oo-la-la! Our equipment was issued to us here and we paid 40 francs as “casual” traveling pay. Slept in a large barracks with several men.
Nov 9 - Rolled my pack this a.m. as we are expecting to leave sometime this morning. While shaving this a.m. Corp. Wm. Mare, who had been in my company, came in to see me after his recuperation from being gassed at the front on Sept. 26th, he was being held in back of the lines and put to doing clerical work in the office at Nevers and seeing my papers go thru, he came over to the barracks to look me up. Mighty fine lad and I was glad to see him. This afternoon the fellows all worked and cleaned up the camp and the colonel, who wasn’t such a bad scout, allowed everyone to go into Nevers without a pass after supper. “Alabam” from down South somewhere, Walter Ivy of the 42nd Division and myself went “window-shopping” for a while and after inspecting the cafes of Nevers, spent the rest of the evening trying to “sheik” some of the French mademoiselles but, I must admit we did not succeed very well! They all seemed to be immune to flirting!
Nov 10 - Bought some pretty silk souvenir handkerchiefs in Nevers for sister Inez and Aunt Ann Faires, last night. This morning my name was included in a list called for leaving camp and after being assembled in the company street, we were marched over and loaded into coaches, being issued three days traveling rations. Left Nevers at 6 p.m. riding all night at a slow rate of speed. Reached Seurre at 3:15 a.m.
Nov 11 - Dijon, a fine, thriving city and an American railroad center at 6 a.m. Large hospital here. At Is-Sur-Tille, a good-sized place, the people were all excitedly buying papers which said that the Peace Treaty would surely end hostilities at 11:00 a.m. today. About 10 carloads of German prisoners are on a side-track here. Had some hot coffee and a slice of bread from the Red Cross unit located at this place. This city is a busy switching center and the tracks and engines are all American style. They are using German prisoners to do the work about the yards. We were here about an hour and it was here that we received word that Germany had accepted the peace terms and that all guns would cease firing at 11 o’clock. We all thanked the Almighty for we felt now that we would soon be able to go home. Gosh, that word sounds good! The French natives are in a great state of excitement now, especially after the official news was flashed over the country that the was is ended. Passed thru Occey and Vaux-Aubgny, a small artistic looking town built on the side of a fairly steep hill, making it look like a citadel. Near this town, the railroad passes thru between two high walls of solid rock which looks like our Royal Gorge of Colorado but not as large. On to Pranthoya, Villegausen, Culmont-Chalndrey. At this lost named town, which is a railhead, I passed thru the longest tunnel (of which there are many) that I remember seeing in the parts of France I have passed over. The white poplar trees throughout the country hereabouts have turned to gold and they look beautiful, more beautiful today than ever before for the war ended at 11 a.m. and everybody is full of joy and good spirits and everything naturally has a more beautiful aspect. A canal with trees on both sides, near the station at Langres-Marne with many German prisoners at work in the yards, makes an attractive picture. The canal just out of the town, runs parallel to the railroad and looks lovely as it winds it is way out thru the country. Everybody, every where, is happy, the “poilus” waving to us and the women and children throwing kisses as we speed along on the train. Passed Rolumport, a town full of French billets, at 4 p.m. The tree lines white roads hereabouts are numerous and fine. The canal from this town on past Vienagnes-Sur-Marne, is as neat and pretty as one would wish to see, flowing for miles on a parallel with the railroad. Foulain is a pretty, rustic place, near wooded hills, on one of which we saw a fine old chateau. The scenery here is gorgeous. A stop of 5 minutes at Langres-Belfort permitted us to hear the church bells ringing in celebration of victory and peace and the people waved wildly and happily to us as they gathered around the places in and near the station. All are in feverish state of excitement and effusive hugs and kisses are very generously passed around with utter disregard as to who receives them, just so they may find relief for their long, pent-up feelings! So it seems to we cooler, less impulsive American boys aboard the train, who view the situation in a more matter-of-fact attitude. We are all just as happy over the ending of the war as our more impulsive French friends, but we assume a more composed expression for our feelings and I am pondering as to which of the two attitudes is them ore satisfying. We passed thru Chaumont, Gen. Pershings headquarters at 5 p.m. and we have had a long and tiresome ride for the day, although it has been, in many ways, very interesting. St. Dizier, a large place and a prominent rail junction, is used as a transfer point for men of different divisions and units who transfer at this place to trains which will put them near their outfits wherever they may be. Here, as in all other places, we have passed since 11 a.m. the town is wild over the peace tidings, bells ringing, whistles blowing, flags flying and excited Frenchies running here and there, jabbering and gesticulating as though they would go insane. God only knows though, it certainly must be an immense relief to them after four years of such things as I have seen in my years time here. The 35th Division fellows on this train rode on to Revigny where we unloaded and stayed all night. I thought I was fortunate at first when I was able to place my bunk in a loft over a shed where the fellow who owned it made beer but after sampling his product, I figured I wasn’t so lucky after all, for the beer was horrible!
Nov 12 - They tell us here that the Germans held Revigny for 8 days back in 1914 and part of the town is in ruins from the shelling given it in dislodging them. Had breakfast at the Quartermaster’s kitchen and saw the Hal King, of my company, here in camp. Strolled about the town all morning and ate dinner at the French cantine, which I paid for out of my own funds. Where I am billeted, there is a French Auto unit in the barracks next to us and this afternoon they are celebrating the armistice with a program of songs music black coffee and much “Vin Rouge”. We are all over in the barracks with them and there is much fun and merriment, for they are a gay lot when they get excited! One of them, in the exuberance of his spirits, grandly removed his cap and bowing to me, said, “Ah, my find American Soldat, you will acep heem for ze souvenir” and I am proudly keeping it as a remembrance of the pleasant afternoon which I spent with them. Articles in the stores here are very high. Stayed all night at Revigmy. Went to the French Red Cross restaurant for supper and while there I became acquainted with a young French soldier on his way to Paris, on leave, to visit his parents, who formerly lived at Perrone until their home was destroyed when the Germans shelled that city. He spoke very good English and we had a very pleasant evening. He gave me some photo post cards of Perrone which his father had taken, being a photographer by trade. During the evening we had a lively time in this French cantine, for there was another Frenchman playing an accordeon, an American a French harp, and Italian playing a violin and a big bunk negro private of an American Engineer unit, doing a buck and wing dance on one of the tables in the place. My young French soldier friend, who had been indulging in considerable “Vin Rouge” in the early part of the evening, sat at the table with me watching the musicians for a while, but as his spirits rose, could not resist the musician’s selections and he mounted the table next to the one on which the negro was dancing, and danced the French peasant dances for the numerous soldiers who were in the cantine this evening. Altogether, it was a very sociable evening.
Nov 13 - Left Revigny at 7:30 this morning. Several observation balloons in an aviation camp at the outskirts of the town. The “poilus” were wildly celebrating last night again and “Vin Rouge” flowed like a stream of water. The French government issues each day, so many liters of red wine to each and every French soldier and instead of carrying water in their cantine, like the American soldier, they carry red wine. That is their water! Oh boy, give me plenty of their water! We got off the train at Sommeille - Nettancourt where we changed to another train. Passed Givry-en-Argonne, Vieil-Dampierre, Villers-Daucourt and reached St. Menehould, where hundreds of French “poilus” with their packs, got on the train, headed for some point at the front to do guard duty. We are on the wrong train, so we had to dismount at St. Menehould and return to Revigny by another train. Having a few hours to wait, we decided to stroll about the town which had been considerable shelled by the Germans, but, for sure some reason or other, members of the A.E.F. were forbidden to go beyond a guard line established near the depot, so we had to content ourselves around the Red Cross station until train time. Left St. Menehoulde at 1:30 p.m. for Revigny where we stayed all night. After supper Ii bought some Vendun souvenirs at the French cantine for the folks at home and then, took a stroll through the shelled part of town and noticed that the church had been leveled to the ground by cannon shots.
Nov 14 - Leaving this a.m. for Bar-Le-Duc. Just out of Revigny are large railroad yards where men are loading artillery guns, wagons, and sectional billets on flat cars. At Mussey we saw a good-sized saw-mill that will probably get a rest, now that the war is over, for it was used in making government war lumber! Faines, a rather picturesque old town, with it’s canal and just enough hills about it to make the scenery lovely. A large French truck corps was stationed here. Reached Bar-Le-Duc at 10:30 a.m. and after dinner at the allied Y.M.C.A. went out to view the city, which is a large and busy place. There are quite a number of places of historic interest here. The statue near the station shows the holes made by machine-gun bullets during a running fight between the French and Germans in 1914. A number of buildings are torn to pieces from the artillery shelling received. A large military cemetery attached to the civilian cemetery contained many graves. A number of chateaus are noted on several hill-slopes at the edge of the city. Also some wooden water-wheels at the grain mills. City is full of Y.M.C.A. workers which caused some of the boys to remark that they believed they would be of more service to the boys if they were up nearer them at the front. Passed Longeville, Nancois-roubille and Ernecourt-Loxeville where there was a large French Red Cross Hospital and a German prisoners camp. Some American Engineers of our outfit tell me that my company is in a little town about 1 ½ kilometers from this place. In a field near here I observed an aeroplane that had come to grief, the engine being buried in the ground from doing a nose dive. Reached Vadonville in the evening, where, formerly, foundries were in operation. Alighted at Lerouville, Divisional Headquarters of our division and stayed all night in an old torn-up house, most of them having been ruined by German artillery.
Nov 15 - This morning I walked from Lerouville to Sampigny to the 69th Brigade Hdqtrs. From where we hiked to a small town where the 1st Battalion was located, then on to Dagonville to Regimental Hdqtrs. Where the 138th was holding a review for some general. From here I hiked on by myself to Le Grande-Petit where my company was billeted in an old barn loft that contained a quantity of hay. Hurrah! For I am back with my old buddy Huskey, again, and the rest of my company-mates and I’m glad to be back again. Walked 35 kilometers from the train to camp here, and, as I am very tired and foot-sore, am going to bed early. John made me laugh though, tonight, for he did not want me to bunk with him and when I asked him why, he told me he had some company he got acquainted with in the trenches at Sommedieu and he thought they might move over on to newer feeding grounds! I told him “What’s a few cooties amongst friends” and went to bed without being molested that night.
Nov 16 - Did not go out to drill this morning, but stayed in quarters and cleaned my rifle. This afternoon they company marched to the drill-field and laid out our packs to be checked up. After supper, Corp. Garnett Thompson and I walked to the village on Nancois-le-Pett for a bottle of beer, after which we returned to camp and retired. These small villages are very quiet places, and, as our boys haven’t much money between pays, there isn’t much life about them.
Nov 17 - John and I staged one of our old wrestling matches last night, for the first time in a long while and I realize I am not fully recovered from my hospital sojourn, as it seems to make me very tired. It is Sunday and miserably gloomy and chilly. Say, John surely was right when he said his friends may leave him for newer pastures! Suffering cats! They must have smelled that there was a nice, clean, fresh carcass moved into that old barn, for the second evening they must have packed all their belongings and moved over en masses, every last one of them, and parked themselves in my wearing apparel, for I am very busy “reading” my shirt this morning and making short work of it too! This is my first experience with them since landing in France and I hope, the last one too! If I had been drinking, I might have thought they were potato-bugs, for, they seemed almost that big to a fellow who had never become acquainted with them before! Never again, I hope! Did some barber work this afternoon for the first time in a long while and being tired, went to bed early this evening.
Nov 18 - Drilled morning and afternoon. An attack of my old sick spell kept me from eating anything all day.
Nov 19 - An hours drill this morning and an early dinner, for we are all going to the French Hospital at Lexeville for a bath. Made the acquaintance of a Swiss-speaking villager, who lives across the road from our billet and spent a very pleasant evening at his home.
Nov 20 - Reveille at 5 a.m. so we could get an early start on regimental fatigue. K and I co’s marched to the next town where we were joined by M and L co’s and going to Triconville, the four companies spread out in a line and policed the fields and woods back to our billets. Saw beautiful silver fox in the woods near Triconville. We came thru Sampigny on this clean up detail and noticed the 26th division (yankee) had just pulled in, preparatory to entraining at this railhead for some point elsewhere. We walked miles and miles over the country today cleaning up any debris we found. Tonight, Sam Oswitz (who just came back today) Rube Oswitz and myself went to the café in the village and indulged in a little “Vin Blanc” and a taste of champagne. Sam told him that he met Paddy McDonough at Le Mons and that he was on his way back to the company which made me very happy, for Pat and I are the best of friends and pals.
Nov 21 - This morning we walked over to St. Aubin-Sur-Aire to clean up any debris to be found. Saw a statue erected to General Colson, a French General of note, who was killed at Reichshoffen during the war of 1871 between Germany and France. His body lies in a mausoleum in the cemetery at the outskirts of the town. A large number of German prisoners were confined here when we “policed” town. The roads were teeming with loaded trucks going both ways. Drilled this afternoon and I had to take temporary charge of the squad as Huskey was busy interpreting for some of our officers somewhere in the village.
Nov 22 - Checked up our equipment this a.m. and I did not go out to drill the balance of the morning with the rest of the company. I cut hair this afternoon while the rest were out in the drill field. This evening Rube Oswitz, Sgt. Fitzgerald and myself, visited our French peasant-friend across the street and bought some very good French-fried potatoes, lettuce and coffee for our supper. No one can excel the French in making French-fried potatoes.
Nov 23 - More cleaning up around camp this morning and this afternoon we had a field inspection of guns. This evening a bunch of the fellows in our billet had lots of fun making all kinds of foolish bets in a penny crap game and John and I h ad a very enjoyable evening watching them.
Nov 24 - Check-up on equipment again this morning. Did some barber work until noon. After dinner Huskey and myself got passes to Ligny, a good-sized town about 7 kilometers from camp, and we spent the afternoon and evening there. Had a four-course meal in the evening at the Hotel de Sval-Blanc (White Horse) which we enjoyed tremendously, as it was quite different, for a change from our daily army grub. Had to walk home in the rain, but a little thing like rain doesn’t bother us in this country anymore, for we are used to it now!
Nov 25 - Col. Mitchell came over to the camp this afternoon and got a load of his bunk off his chest, but I don’t think any serious thought was wasted on his talk by any of the men, for they all have about as much love for him as they have for a pole-cat. They all call him the “human mule-driver” and I, for one, would not like to deprive him of his title. He deserves it! Gus Washhausen and I had supper of potatoes, lettuce and beer with our old friend across the street and spent an enjoyable evening after which I went over to the billet and pestered John until we had our usual wrestling bout.
Nov 26 - Was put on “kitchen-police” or “grub slinging” this morning, until noon, when eleven of our men came back to the company from the hospitals and I was released from K.P. duty so that I could cut their hair as they all needed it badly. American barbers in this man’s country are scarce (and valued) articles, and, as a consequence of some importance about a camp. Check one more feed at the Frenchman’s this evening.
Nov 27 - Policed up the two small towns north of our billets and then circled thru Loxeville back to our camp. Rained all morning and the jaunt through mud and rain was lovely! For the want of something else to do, the company officers took us out and drilled in the rain this afternoon. I wonder if that will make a fellow tough for the next war? When is it, did you say? One more supper at our private hotel this evening. Same menu.
Nov 28 - Thanksgiving Day, muddy, rainy, and dreary, but thankful anyway that I am alive and healthy. Did barber work all morning. Had a dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green peas, tapioca pudding, stewed apples, one apple, one orange, 2 chestnuts, and 2 almonds and we thought we had all the eats in the world for dinner! Don’t know how the cooks managed to get that much for each one but they sure enough did it! My friend and squad mate, Budziewiski and I got a pass and went over to Ernicourt to see the fellow who is taking care of my Luger pistol, but as he is away on his furlough, I did not get my gun and the trip though the rain and mud was all for nothing. It rained so hard on the way over there that Bud and I had to spend about an hour under an old shed along the roadside. Tonight we went over to the Frog’s house for our usual supper and he, in the goodness of his heart, gave us two doughnuts for a treat, which sure went over big with us, for a change. Tonight John, Eddie Brown and myself went to Ligney for a short while and as we got back to camp early, John and I staged our regular exhibition of Gymnastics.
Nov 29 - So muddy and rainy this morning we could not drill, so were confined to our billets. After dinner the company “policed-up” Ernicourt again.
Nov 30 - Field inspection this morning and after dinner the company being idle, a number of the men got passes to the neighboring towns but as I am not feeling very good, I stayed in camp. Huskey must like the town of Ligny, for he went there again this p.m. My potatoes tasted pretty good this evening over at the Frenchie’s house.
Dec 1 - Reveille at 5:30 today, as we have an order to move up into the army corps area, so we hiked thru Loxeville to Couzeance, a miserable old hole of a place, where we were billeted in a cold barn. Have an attack of the grippe and feel miserable, but as we expect to leave here soon, Huskey, Eddie Brown and myself walked to Ernicourt and got my Lugar gun from Ernest Jones of the 110th Sanitary Train, who took care of it for me while I was at Base Hospital #35.
Dec 2 - Had recruit drills tuff all day. It’s monotonous, to say the least, but it is about all they can do to keep the men busy, for there is nothing else to do. Gleason, Egermayer, Montgomery, Halman, and myself had a lot of fun this evening with the “galloping dominoes” trying to make them behave!
Dec 3 - Sick call for me this morning as I haven’t felt right since my return from the base hospital. After dinner we were examined by Lt. Broadhead of our Medical Corps, (we call him “Muttonhead”) and then put in an hours drill. One more exhibition for John and myself. We will get good at it after awhile!
Dec 4 - Chilly, rainy weather but we have to splash around in the mud and this afternoon we drilled in the rain. No sense to the “gosh-darn” thing from our viewpoint, but as the war is over I suppose we are getting “deficient” and have to prepare for another war according to the “shave tails” (Lieutenants) ideas of training us!
Dec 5 - Sick all day and marked “Quarters” who wouldn’t get sick of this kind of weather? Especially when one has not fully recovered from a previous one. In bed all day.
Dec 6 - More drill all day. Same old grind every day and it is becoming irksome to all the men. Saw a long train of German box-cars full of French prisoners of war, returning to their homes in France from prison camps in Germany. Lt. Broadhead gave us a talk today on the subject of army socks and the care of the feet, which was only a repetition of the same old spiel we heard so often before.
Dec 7 - Inspection this a.m. which is quite regular. K & I Co. played football this afternoon and K Co. was victorious, 6 to 0. Pretty stiff game, boys! A whole train load of camouflaged caterpillar tractors passed the camp. Score one more for the “monkey shines” of Skee and I last night. I threw him for a goal!
Dec 8 - Did barber work all morning. Seems like the boys all needed haircuts. After dinner my buddy and I walked to Grimacourt, the small town next to our camp, and spent the afternoon and evening there resuming and training after we reached home in the evening.
Dec 9 - A field problem this morning took up our attention and furnished us with considerable interest and in which I acted as a “runner” or “message-bearer”. After dinner our problem had as the objective, the capture of the town of Grimacourt and my squad acted as machine-gunners. Wore our gas masks and helmets to make it more “realistic”. Meals here are very slim and limited. Once more a bout is staged for our evenings entertainment between Buddy and I in which he was the winner.
Dec 10 - A regimental problem today in which I was a runner, had the capture of Ernicourt as our objective and K Co. was in reserve to the regiment. This is an interesting movement when the three battalions of 12 companies are involved. Got home at 1:30 p.m. quite hungry as a bacon sandwich made up our dinner. Supper was also very scant as meals these days are very poor.
Dec 11 - My 31st birthday and another milestone added to the growing number! A problem today did not stir up much enthusiasm, as we all got a thorough drenching from the rain and had to plod thru the muddy fields home again. They say “It never rains but what it pours.” My old corporal and bunk-mate, Pat McDonough (of the ould sod) returned to the company today and after supper John, Pat and I repaired to the village café and held a small reunion.
Dec 12 - General inspection of equipment and quarters today and, of course, considerable cleaning up to be done all around. No drill all day for which, Allah be praised, for it has rained continuously all day. Yesterday a Swede named Anderson in I Co. was accidentally shot and killed by one of his company-mates who was cleaning his automatic pistol. Anderson was sitting on a chair in front of him when he was struck and the bullet entered his right side, under the arm, passing out on the left side. His funeral was held today at Ernicourt and he was laid to rest in a cemetery containing German, Austrian, American and French soldiers.
Dec 13 - Cold, dreary and rainy day and the 13th! For “good luck” we drew a regimental problem and plowed thru mud, ankle deep, from Cousances to Dagonville and then on toward Sampigny. Each and everyone got soaking wet and everybody, officers and men, were “crabbing” all day long for none could understand the necessity or benefit to be derived from this ordeal as they were all huddled together like sheep in the pouring rain and no interest manifested whatever. A cold, small, beef sandwich made up our meal for the day. We returned to our billets during the late afternoon thoroughly soaked and disgusted and remained in quarters all evening. About eight o’clock the company was lined up and paid and I drew 395 francs for four months salary. Tonight the boys are all playing “African Golf” or chasing the “Galloping Dominoes” and forgetting about the unnecessary hardships they were exposed to today all day. Perhaps that is as it should be, for the army is the army, and it is no use to be concerned after the day is past, for tomorrow may bring another just like it, all according to the dictator in charge. My buddy must be working tonight, for I just heard him say, “Hop up, eighter from Decatur!”
(number on last page of Vol. I: 6328)
The dates and entries in this book, as well as in the preceding volume, are meant as lasting remembrances, whether painful or pleasant, of the eventful two years spent in the service of my country, of which I am justly proud, and which I voluntarily contributed from the period of June 4, 1917 to May 12, 1919.
May I enjoy the contents of these two volumes during my later days, when memory falters, is my sincere wish.
Allan C. Huber
Co. K, 138th Inft.
The Sante Fe Cross - Emblem of my Division
Volume II, 1918 - Continued from Volume I
Dec 14 - An inspection and competition platoon drill took up our time today in which the 4th platoon won the honors. I was very busy all afternoon cutting hair. This evening the boys indulged in a game of “African Golf”. Wrestling tonight between John and I.
Dec 15 - Eddie Brown of St. Charles, MO, Huskey and myself spent the afternoon and evening at Grimacourt, reaching camp about 9:00 p.m.
Dec 16 - A regimental problem today and as usual we had the misfortune to get caught in the rain and had to plod home in the mud. In the afternoon the whole company walked over to Grimacourt to have our rifles inspected by the Repair Outfit of this division. Last night my buddy and I entertained with our usual athletic performance for about 15 minutes duration. We never left the billets at all because the “Galloping Dominoes” kept us busy part of the time and I had 95 francs when we went to bed.
Dec 17 - Cold, rainy weather and another company problem in the field but as no one seemed to know what we were supposed to do, we stood around in the cold rain for about three hours and got thoroughly soaked for our trouble. Got home to camp about three in the afternoon and found the town full of limousines containing officers from the Major-General on down the line, who were here for our problem of the morning. Must be nice to be an officer and have a car and chauffeur to transport one about the different camps. But I guess they have their troubles too, much the same as the common trooper! Stayed in the billets all evening.
Dec 18 - Exposure to the rain and cold while out on field problems the past few days, gave me a recurrence of my old complaint and I was confined to my bunk all day. It seems like utter foolishness that the men have to go out in such weather when it seems so absolutely unnecessary now that the war is over. We get a very light breakfast (this morning it was a spoonful of prunes, slice of bread and bacon and black coffee) and have to stay out all day in the cold and rain with only a bacon sandwich for dinner and when we get back to camp we get a very light supper. If it is done to test the endurance of the men, I fail to see any advantage in starving men, especially when it is to the belief of most of the soldiers that there are plenty of supplies in the Supply depots throughout the country. The 138th has been more or less under fed since we landed in France and we are inclined to think that the fault lies mainly with our superiors. The most of the our enlisted men spent most of their own funds to purchase food while in France to keep from going hungry.
Dec 19 - Our problem (of which there is an over-supply at present) was called off for today so that the signal men could have time enough to string the telephone wires, so we spent the time taking a bath and having our clothes run through the “Delouser” which was located across the street from our billet. When they came through the machine, fumigated, they had a wonderful shirred-like-appearance- they were so wrinkled! It is bitter cold tonight so we stayed in the billets all evening wrestling or tumbling exercise after which I took on Eddie Brown of St. Charles, MO for a round.
Dec 20 - Rain and cold wind, coupled with another one of those indispensable problems took up the day and also, more starvation meals.
Dec 21 - Inspection, all around, this morning and I came thru with a clean slate. In the afternoon the outfit moved to Cousances and my squad were quartered in an old factory building which is some better than the barns we have been sleeping in at different places. There were old fashioned fire-places in nearly all of the rooms. This evening we had to walk to the kitchen of our company, which is located in Cousances just at present, (we are about ½ kilometers from town) for supper but Huskey and I decided to go to a little French café for some supper and a bottle of wine and while we were there, Elder (with his mandolin) and Wonderly, of our company, came into the café and we spent the evening in playing singing, which pleased the old French lady of the café mightily, and she rewarded us with a very good bottle of white wine, saying that we were very good-natured young “soldats de Americain”. Tre’ Bean! (very good)
Dec 22 - Worked at the barber chair all morning and was at leisure all afternoon. Don’t know why we did not have the inevitable field problem today, unless they are getting monotonous to the officers themselves! John and I spent the evening at the little café. No wonder we did not have a problem today, it is Sunday but I was not aware of it until I sat down to enter my notes in the diary. Well it was a miserable day anyway! Sergents Brady, Rogier and Bob La Mear, also Private Sol Vincent came back to the company today after being in the hospital for quite some time.
Dec 23 - Monday and drill as usual, remaining in the billets after supper on account of the weather. Wrestling again tonight.
Dec 24 - Drill morning and afternoon. Quite a few of the Catholic boys in the company went to confession this morning but the rest of us kept right on drilling. X-mas Eve and it is “some” evening for there is nothing to do and no place to go. Nothing to be bought in the village, for love or money, so I stayed in the billets. It is snowing tonight, (the ground is white) and the first snow I have seen in France. A letter from my brother Harry, who is in the 91st Division, states that he is at Andenaarde, Belgium. Had stew for dinner and corned “willie” with coffee, for supper. The meals are just simply terrible in this outfit since we have been in France. Out of the kindness of their hearts, the Y.M.C.A. “Syndicate” as the boys refer to them, gave each man a X-mas present of a sack of Bull Durham, 2 cakes of chocolate, 2- 5Ë packages of cigarettes and a piece of chewing tobacco. This is the one time when they really “put out” something for nothing as they have been trying to make the folks at home believe that they have always been doing what they did way back in the peace zones, we are not in a position to say, but our experience was that we bought anything we ever got off them wherever we happen to meet them.
Dec 25 - Last night was a most miserable X-mas Eve and I woke up this morning in a very bad humor. It is still trying to snow. Breakfast consisted of rice, coffee and a teaspoonful of jam. Did barber work all morning as there was nothing else to do. Had a small portion of boiled beef and stewed potatoes with no coffee for dinner on this X-mas Day. Stew, coffee and bread made up our supper. Remained in the billet all afternoon and evening. John wanted me to walk over to Grimacourt in the evening with him, but as it was a misting rain, I did not go. Some of the other boys walked over to Loxeville to an amateur show. This was surely a cheerless, desolate X-mas Day for me!
Dec 26 - Morning drill only today. After dinner I took my tools and went over to I Co’s billets and cut hair all afternoon. They sure keep a measly barber busy around these army camps! Bacon and gravy for breakfast, dough balls, coffee and a piece of tough beef for dinner and stewed onions, burnt brown gravy, coffee and more tough beef for supper was the bill-of-fare for today. Another wrestling bout tonight. It was the custom in our training camp in Oklahoma to teach the enlisted men to hate the Germans and anything German, before our trip over-seas, but since the war is over and we are filling our time during the day with stale mechanical drilling, our captain has the nerve, or absurdity, to instruct us in the old German origination of the “goose-step” (of which the army officials made caustic remarks previously) and, for which we cannot understand the reason for wanting to copy German ideas after trying to destroy German methods! Hurrah for Inconsistency!
Dec 27 - Inspection today for our illustrious and pompous Col. Mitchell and it was absolutely a farce, as he came over looking for trouble and quiet naturally, found plenty of it, which he was capable of doing anywhere he appeared. His chief concern was mainly the “bawling out” of Capt. Pierce, of our company, who could not do anything, whatever, to please him. As Col. Mitchell is very unpopular throughout the whole regiment, no one seemed to pay much attention to his raving (which is continual) except to curse him, to each other, a little more than usual, if that were possible! A story was widely circulated regarding Col. Mitchell amongst our men relating to his disciplinary methods. His mount was inclined to be a bit unruly at times and one morning upon kicking a board out of the wall in his stall, Col. Mitchell ordered the man in charge of the horse, to deprive the animal of it’s morning feed! Suppose the horse understood what it was all about, wouldn’t you? At another time, upon h is arising fifteen minutes later than his usual time, he ordered his orderly, or “dog-robber” as we called them, to remove his breakfast as he would not eat it as a punishment for getting up late! Too bad he didn’t hang himself, as a punishment, the old reprobate! Such was the esteem we held for the dear Colonel! Huskey and I walked over to Cousances after supper for a bottle of beer.
Dec 28 - Saturday morning indoor inspection of quarters as it is raining too hard to hold it in the open as usually is done on Saturdays. Rain all day and evening kept most of the men in the billets after supper for anyone who has been in France will tell you it is not very much pleasure to struggle around in one of these French rainy spells which are all too frequent.
Dec 29 - Rain all day again but it did not worry me very much for I went over to I Co. quarters and cut hair all day. Had a good dinner at I Cos. Kitchen today but the breakfast in our company was simply fierce for I had 5 prunes, one slice of bread and a cup of black coffee. McAlester, Paulsen, Wall, and Fancel, men in the squad, will verify this as they received the same portion. If I Co. can feed fairly well in their mess, there must be something wrong in the management of our outfit. Huskey went to Aix-La-Bains this morning and 4:30 a.m. and I feel completely lost without him around, for we have been buddies ever since we joined the army and have always been together. He has a 7 day furlough but will be gone about 11 or 12 days, counting traveling time.
Dec 30 - Drilled all morning and cut hair all afternoon. Dinner consisted of meat and dumplings and we had to throw them all away and substitute cold “corn-willie”. Tonight Elder came into our room with his mandolin and while he played, Engerman and Wonderly sang, and, Alve Gleason and I danced. De Rosi, the New York Dago in our company, then danced an Indian war dance for us which we claims he learned while working on a ranch in Montana. Altogether, we had a very pleasant evening and then and there decided to go to Grimacourt tomorrow evening to celebrate Old years Eve and have a little drink together.
Dec 31 - A problem for a short time this a.m. and then drilled in the rain for the balance of the morning. Menu for breakfast - watery molasses, two small slices of bacon, slice of bread and black coffee. For supper - ground up corn-willie and meat, tomatoes with hardtack and black coffee. Don’t know why we can’t get rations enough so they could take us off this starvation feed, but we can’t seem to get them! Something is radically “wrong in Denmark” as the old saying goes. Old Years Eve, so Elder, Wonderly, De Velder, De Rosi, Engerman, Alve Gleason and myself, arming ourselves with passes from the company clerk, proceeded to the village café at Grimacourt and proceeded to enjoy the evening to the fullest extent, with singing and dancing, much to the delight of the French natives who, apparently, seemed to relish our pep and way of celebrating. When it was time to close the café (10 p.m.) we all returned to camp and continued our program in our room. At midnight, some of the boys in one of the other rooms, sounded off with the Chauchet guns and automatic pistols and the officers nearly broke a ham-string getting down to the billet to stop the firing and to see who was doing the shooting. Do not recall how much luck they had though! Received a very welcome letter this evening from my old friend and townsmen, Ray Spellerberg who is in a hospital unit located at Clermont Ferrand.
Jan 1, 1919 - Barbered for I Co. again this morning and in the afternoon Budziwieski and I spent the afternoon at Loxeville spending some time talking to German prisoners held in a “bull-pen” there. Met Ed Netzer here. He’s in L Co. of our outfit, having came with replacements from the 84th Division. In the evening Bud and I walked to Triconville to the Salvation Army hut where they served us some doughnuts, home made fudge and my first piece of pie in this country. Believe me, it was surely good and worth the walk to get it! When we started back to our billets, we met one of our company men who was going to Loxeville to attend a show given by our divisional troupe, “The Mo-Kan. Minstrels” as they were known in France, and we turned back and attended the show with him. After the performance the Salvation Army served us 3 doughnuts and hot coffee, which we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.
Jan 2 - Indoor instruction this morning as it is raining as usual. After dinner I went over to the Scouts quarters and cut hair, taking supper with them. Breakfast in our outfit was made up of a spoonful of prunes, slice of bread and black coffee. Dinner - beans, slice of bread and coffee, but the coffee was better today for we had milk and sugar to put in it, which nearly overpowered the whole company with shock! Corporals Thomason, Dobson, Bogel, Fox and Private De Rosi are all in “Dutch” on account of the shooting on Old Year’s Eve and we are all waiting to see what the outcome will be. They are under arrest in quarters and on the parade grounds (a muddy lot near the billet).
Jan 3 - We drilled until 10 a.m. and then the company came in for an early dinner, as we left at 11:30 a.m. for Dagonville thru all the mud and water, for, a battalion problem. It rained all afternoon and the men all got soaking wet and covered with mud. We do not know if Major Thomason is responsible for such an order to go out in a day like this on an unnecessary things like a problem in peace time but if he is responsible for driving the men thru such mud and rain, he should rot in hell for his inhumane treatment of men that the world calls “soldiers”. Bah! For him! All of the men in our company are confined indoors tonight with wet clothes and shoes and no change and no wood with which to build a fire to dry them. Our company men are buying their own wood to keep warm with an also the candles so that they can see what they are doing at night and for the early neveille we have every morning.
Jan 4 - Usual Saturday inspection today and everything in spick and span condition, we marched to Dagonville to hold it. After walking the distance of about four kilometers to regimental headquarters, thru mud and water, the inspection was held by the captain, with no regimental officers in sight, in a muddy field. Absolutely no sense to the whole proceeding, as the captain could just as well have done the same thing in front of our billets and saved the company the long muddy walk. Just another instance of “Deficiency Thompson’s” “efficiency” stunts. Breakfast menu - 3 pancakes and molasses, Dinner - beef, potatoes with jackets, gravy and coffee. Supper - meat and beans, bread and coffee. Pat McDonough and I spent the evening in the billets, chatting of days gone by.
Jan 5 - Sunday and did barber work all morning. In the afternoon I “tried” to write some much delayed letters but the boys made so much racket I delayed the attempt until after supper. Our breakfast today consisted of two slices of bacon, one spoon of molasses and coffee, and for dinner, we had 1 ½ spoons of hamburger with carrots and gravy and bread and coffee. Supper- two small pieces of bacon, one spoon of fried onions, bread and coffee. Very light rations for healthy young men are forced to drill every day! No wonder we were compelled enough to eat!
Jan 6 - As I only have one pair of hob-nailed shoes in my possessions, I was forced to stay in from the drill field and have the shoe of the right foot repaired by our company shoe-repairer and while he was doing this, I wrote a letter to my old friend Ray Spellerberg, at Clermont. In the afternoon the company hiked to Cousances for the purpose of getting instructions in sighting and aiming exercises - stuff that was taught us in our rookie days way back in Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma. It makes on laugh! Spoon of rice, bread and coffee for breakfast. Coffee, bread, beans and bacon for dinner. Coffee, bread, potatoes and meat for supper. Woke up in a cold sweat from a dream which I had last night in which I seemed to see my buddy John being tortured in a hospital in another part of France where I could not reach out to help him! Don’t know why I should have such a horrible dream, unless is on account of a very bad cold which I have and which has put me in a nervous condition on account of several restless nights of sleep. I miss my pal though and will be glad when he gets back to camp again from his vacation at Aix-La-Bains. A platoon of I Co. is moving somewhere tonight and I supposed we will be moving soon.
Jan 7 - More drills this a.m. Here comes the daily bill-of-fare. Breakfast - one spoonful of prunes, rice, bread, and coffee. Dinner- 2 slices bacon, spoon of molasses, bread and black coffee. Supper- Pork with brown gravy, creamed potatoes, black coffee and bread, and after we ate supper, several of the fellows went out to see if the world was coming to an end, for we were so surprised at such a meal that we were expecting something terrible to happen! I company of our batallion moved to Lerouville today. After supper tonight, Joe Spaulding, Ed Wachter, Oliver Cope, and myself, walked over to Loxeville to a show given by a colored band of 30 men from the 81st Pioneer Infantry, which was very good. Our company received their December pay while we were at the show and when we returned to the billets there were all kinds of mysterious rolling noises to be heard! I wonder what they were.
Jan 8 - Drill morning and afternoon with a “cootie” bath and steam in the evening which caused us to have a late supper. Usual meals today. Each corporal had a chance today to drill the squad and I had my chance with the rest of them, doing fairly well at it.
Jan 9 - Usual drills this a.m. but it rained so hard in the afternoon that the captain kept us in quarters and delivered a talk to the company. Rice, spoon of molasses, bread and black coffee for breakfast. Rice, soup and ground meat with potatoes and bread for dinner. Supper was made up of beef steak, potatoes, bread coffee with milk. One of the cooks told me last night that the reason we did not get our regular issue of butter and jam was because the butter, which comes in five pound cans, was promptly grabbed and sent up to the Officer’s mess, thereby depriving us of our portion. The same applied to the jam. Our officers apparently do not seem to care whether we get enough to eat as long as they have plenty.
Jan 10 - Company problem this morning. An easy drill period in the afternoon. Usual meals today. My buddy, John, came home from his furlough at Aix-Le-Bains this morning, saying he had a wonderful time.
Jan 11 - Arose earlier than usual this a.m. to prepare for an inspection over at Dagonville. After a breakfast of rice, spoon of jam, bread and coffee, we hiked over there, with full pack, thru the mud. A heavy snow started falling by the time we reached the inspection field which became so blinding that the men could not hold an even line when passing the Colonel’s position and he ordered them marched around the field thru the snowstorm, until he was satisfied with the way the line looked. Talk about your downright “cussedness”! He had it! Reached home in the time for a dinner of a pan of thin soup with two slices of bread and coffee. In the afternoon we had to lay out all our equipment for inspection in quarters. Yesterday evening after supper, John, just being back from a two weeks furlough, thought he was a stronger man and challenged me to a wrestling match and the judges decided I was the winner.
Jan 12 - Last night, after a bad day in the field yesterday, Buddy and I both had the “weary-blues” and we decided to go out and “drown” them, which we did in Cousances, after walking to Grimacourt without finding anything but water. Finally succeeded in chasing the “blues” for it was the next day before John found his cigarettes and gloves, which we had shoved in between the floor and the bed-tick when we got back to the billet. The French lady, who conducted the little café where we spent the evening remarked that we could consume “beaucoup” vin blanc! This spell will do for a while now! We celebrated with a little party when we got back to the barracks. Cut hair all of this morning and after dinner we wrote a letter to his foster-parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Kincaid at Racola, MO. That is I wrote it for him, while he aggravated everybody else around the barracks. After supper we both were successful in gathering a few francs with the little “gallopers”! Gee, you army boys are sure bad eggs, says the reverend!
Jan 13 - Rice, bread and coffee for breakfast. Jacket potatoes, boiled beef, brown gravy and bread for dinner - the cook must have thrown a fit! Chopped meat, tomatoes, hard-tack and coffee for supper. They treated us to indoor instruction this morning and sighting and aiming in the afternoon. Bud and I picked up some more francs this evening in the ”barracks pastime” and it tickled him so much he challenged me to a match. We wrestled and kicked up such a noise that one of the other “boarders” threw a hob-nail over in our corner. He must have had a fit of the “blues” on, like I had the other evening! Well, he knows the cure!
Jan 14 - Drill all day today for the want of something else to do. One spoon of rice and prunes for breakfast. Bread, coffee, tomatoes, and bacon for dinner. Ground meat with brown beans, coffee and bread for supper. We are supposed to move over to the barracks at Lerouville, today, but it has been post-poned. Wrestling was indulged in again last night by several teams and all had a lot of fun.
Jan 15 - Moved today to a former French cadet training school, about one kilometer the other side of Lerouville. There are a number of substantial barracks buildings here, but quite a few have a lot of the window-panes broken, whether by peasant children or former air-raids, I do not know. They are large and roomy inside, but it surely is hard and cold to sleep on the concrete floor with only one blanket under a person and one to cover with. On account of moving today, the meals were awful.
Jan 16 - Nice, sunshiny day today after yesterdays all day rain. our new drill field is muddy and hard to drill on after the ran. Breakfast - small dipper of rice and prunes, 2 slices of bread and coffee. Dinner - Three small pieces of chopped beef, one potato, 2 slices of bread and coffee. It was so cold and hard on this concrete floor last night that I didn’t get much sleep.
Jan 17 - Had to take care of my barber work this morning. The Captain wants me to establish a barbershop in the barracks here, so this afternoon I arranged one on the second floor in the room with Billie Armstrong, the company shoemaker, and we now have daily confabs, just like back home in the village shop, by heck! The wrestling bout last night was a draw. This exercise furnishes us with a lot of amusement of an evening, as there is not much else to be done here in this camp. Today we had cornmeal mush with bread and coffee for breakfast, tomatoes with hardtack, beef, bread and tea for dinner and a dipper of beans, bread and coffee for supper. If the cook ever makes the mistake of closing his eyes and spilling a little bit more than usual portion in the mess kit I know one first-class private that will drop dead in his tracks!
Jan 18 - The barber shop was going full force all day, for business is always good around an army camp. Today is the regular Saturday inspection day but as I am the company barber, I am excused. After supper, most of K Company walked over to Commercy, a nice place, to see our divisional show troupe, “The MO-KAN. Minstrels” of which one of our own men. Wm. Dick of Chicago, is the leading man. They have a very good show and John and I enjoyed it very much but when we got back to camp he had to go on as Corporal of the Kitchen Guard and be up all night.
Jan 19 - The barber shop was only open this morning for, after dinner, Eddie Brown, John Huskey and I got a pass to Commercy and spent the afternoon seeing the town, going to see a program of five boxing bouts at the divisional theatre building in the evening.
Jan 20 - At my regular trade again today and the hair did fly too! Three pancakes, one spoon of jam and coffee for breakfast. Some tough hamburger, flour gravy, potatoes with jackets and rice-soup for dinner. A new batch of rations must have come in! Brown beans, raw onions, bread and tea for supper. We were at the show in Commercy last night and could not hold our usual evening program, so tonight I challenged Ed Brown first and Buddy afterward and we had plenty of action.
Jan 21 - The whole company is at the shooting range today, practicing the throwing of the little egg-shaped hand grenades. The men who have been selected to take part in the Divisional Shooting Tournament on Feb 15th are training for the event now. Some of the boys are practicing with the Browning machine guns on the indoor range just outside our barracks. It is a nice, sunshiny day but the air has a cold twang to it. I haven’t much work today as the men are all out on the range. Dipper of rice, slice of bacon, 2 small pieces of bread and black coffee for breakfast. A bacon sandwich for dinner as there are only a few around the barracks. Beef steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread and coffee for supper. Pat McDonough and I spent a pleasant evening chatting with Joe Spaulding.
Jan 22 - Today’s meals are a repetition of yesterdays bill-of-fare. Today an order came through the company’s office for all men to make up their bunks alternately - that is, one with head to the wall and the next one with the feet to the wall and separately, in order to keep from breathing in each other’s faces on account of an epidemic of Spanish Influenza which has broken out in camp here, L Co. having sent eleven cases to the hospital. The fact that we have all been sleeping on the hard, cold floor, with very little straw in the bed-sacks, scant covering and no stove in the barracks in this cold weather has much to do with the spreading or catching of the “flu”. Each man is supposed to have 15 lbs. of straw in his bed sack but I have about 6 lbs. in mine and the rest of the boys have no more than I. At Cousances, in the old factory building, we were lucky to find fire-places in the rooms and we could buy bundles of twigs for one franc a bundle from an old man who lived next door to us.
Jan 23 - Rice, bread and coffee for breakfast. Small piece of beef steak, potatoes with jackets, soup and bread for dinner. Bacon and beans, bread pudding, coffee and bread for supper. As I did not have much to do in the shop, I went out to watch I Co. shoot the one-pounder guns and also saw a barrage put on by the guns called Stokes Mortars. There appears to be indications around camp of an early move toward the coast, and home!
Jan 24 - On the evening of Jan. 22, Buddy and I, both being out of sorts, had a wordy little set to, the first time since we joined the army and both got mad about it, but tonight we decided both were wrong about it and decided we were foolish to lose our heads over trifling things. Fellows will get all muffed up though sometimes, won’t they? Meals today are at the usual mark.
Jan 25 - The company left for an all-day maneuver in which they are to have actual firing by machine guns, Stokes Mortars, hand-grenades, etc. and of which they will take moving-pictures. Only the third battalion of the 138th is going thru the maneuvers which occur at2 p.m. today but they have been rehearsing all morning on the field about 5 kilometers from camp and which is a part of the old battleground of the war, known as the St. Mihiel front near Commercy. Huskey is to be a Liaison Corporal at Battalion Headquarters for the day. The second battalion is holding a field inspection and have to pitch their pup-tents in the cold wind. With our company gone all day, meals are “few and far between”. Our wrestlers program was carried out as usual, and on schedule, last night.
Jan 26 - Last night Huskey had me write a letter for him to his foster-sister, Alvina Kincaid at Racola, MO, not that John could not write it himself, but he was satisfied the way I wrote it for him. He, being on detail all day today (Sunday) we stayed in the barracks all evening and amused ourselves wrestling until Frank DeVelder told us we looked like two bums and we quit. It snowed last night and this morning the ground and trees were white. Boiled beef, gravy, soup, potatoes with jackets and bread for dinner. Huskey had to report to the hospital today on sick call and as he could not drill, he spent most of the day up in the barber-shop with me. We had stew, coffee and bread for supper.
Jan 28 - Huskey is still confined to quarters with swollen tonsils. Molasses, bread and coffee for breakfast. Beans, tomatoes, bread and soup for dinner. This afternoon the battalion is having a field inspection of full packs. Some of Col. Mitchell’s stuff I guess. Mashed potatoes, gravy, beefsteak and tea for supper. This evening, John and I, with a bunch of fellows of the company, walked to Lerouville to the picture show.
Jan 29 - Meals today are of the usual class. The company went out on a short hike, with small packs, this morning. The colonel now has ordered all helmets must be greased and the boys, naturally, are all wondering what the benefit can be.
Jan 30 - Usual feed today. Part of the company is on a detail and the rest are out on a problem. This evening they had a regimental presentation of a Croix-de-Guerre to a Sergent in H Co. but after the Colonel had the whole regiment lined up and the General here for the presentation, he found out the Sergent was away on his furlough, so the General got mad and would not stay for the “Pass In Review”. After “retreat” John and I walked over to Commercy to see our regimental show troupe but as our passes were issued too late, we did not get there in time, so we spent the evening at a fairly-good café.
Jan 31 - Four pancakes, molasses, and coffee for breakfast. Beefsteak, gravy, mashed potatoes, bread and soup for dinner - good enough for anyone! Brazed beef, beans, bread and coffee for supper. This afternoon the nutty Colonel made the regiment rehearse for a parade for this evening. Rehearsals at 1:30 and 3:30.
Feb 1 - Last night John had pretty good luck playing “Black jack” with some of the fellows and when he came into the barracks he tackled me for a “touchdown” in short order. Field inspection with full packs this morning. John and I walked to Commercy to see a program of boxing bouts this evening. Eddie Spear, of our outfit, won his bout with his French opponent. The bouts were between men of our division and French army boxers. Bud Clancy is on a tour of exhibition bouts in Italy at present.
Feb 2 - Cut hair all morning. This afternoon the company was paid and the barracks rooms are quite “active”. Sent mother a French “75” shell from the battlefield, as a souvenir.
Feb 3 - Fried-mush, molasses, peaches stewed, coffee and bread for breakfast. Beef and tomatoes, gravy, soup and bread for dinner and gravy, potatoes, beef and coffee for supper. The company had a competition drill with the rest of the companies in the regiment and won first position.
Feb 4 - Company had another competitive drill this morning. Received a letter today from brother Harry who is in Belgium with the 91st Div. Lieut. Hill of our company, Lieut. Sutherland and a bunch of other officers of the regiment, including our “dearly beloved” nutty Colonel Mitchell, are leaving today for the 5th Army Corps in the Occupied Zone of the Rhine Valley in Germany. Good-day, dear Colonel!
Feb 5 - Meals as per usual schedule. Quite a bit of work in the shop today. Tonight John and I had quite a party with the “African Golf-Balls”.
Feb 6 - Nothing of importance to record around here today but tonight I went over to the “Y” Hut and wrote letters to the folks at home.
Feb 7 - Three pancakes, molasses and coffee for breakfast. The company left his morning for a hike to St. Julien and the vicinity of Mont Sec near St. Mihiel, to look over the old trenches which the company occupied when the Armistice was signed. It is cold and snowing heavily and the boys are in for a hard hike for it is quite a distance over there and back.
Feb 8 - Usual feed. The company was sent down to Lerouville to bring up cots for the barracks rooms but they only managed to get ten. Bud and I went to Lerouville to spend the evening.
Feb 9 - Called over to the Captains quarters at Battalion Headquarters to cut his hair. It is clear and cold, with bright sunshine overhead. Sunday and nothing to do, so we spent the afternoon and evening lounging around.
Feb 10 - 4 pancakes, spoon molasses and coffee for breakfast. Husky and I had a lot of fun last night listening to Archie Dame who was very comical. Mashed potatoes, boiled beef, soup and bread for dinner. Stew, bread, coffee and stewed tomatoes for supper. Remained in quarters all evening.
Feb 11 - Clear and cold today and a beautiful moonlight night with plenty of snow.
Feb 12 - Usual bill-of-fare. Company is having a regimental parade with packs, gas masks and helmets. Bud and I went to Commercy to see a show put on by some Aero Squadron Troupe and they had a female impersonator dong a Hawaiian dance that was clever.
Feb 13 - Regimental parade with packs again today. Nice, cold sunshiny day but the snow and slipperiness is still on the ground.
Feb 14 - Company was going to take their delayed hike to the old trenches at St. Julien today, but it was called off and they were sent out to drill. 35th Divisional Vaudeville Troupe gave good show at the “Y” tonight.
Feb 15 - Saturday and the usual field inspection and review while at the show last night I met “Steamboat” May of Parsons Kans. who is in the 137th Ambulance Co. of the 110th Sanitary Train of our division, who seemed a fine chap. This evening Tom Welch, Moran and I went to Commercy to the boxing show but only Welch succeeded in getting in as it was so crowded, so Moran and I loafed about the town.
Feb 16 - Barbered all morning. John is on guard detail tonight so I went to the “Y” to see the show. Rained all day and it is muddy.
Feb 17 - Company left on a hike for the day so they issued each man two sandwiches for dinner. They are to “Pass In Review” before the Prince of Wales and Gen. Pershing and Staff at a point about 12 kilometers from camp. They reviewed the troops in the mud and rain. Mashed potatoes, gravy, boiled beef, stewed tomatoes, bread and coffee for supper.
Feb 18 - Rice, molasses, bread and coffee for breakfast. John was crabby last night and looking for someone to argue with, so I obliged him but he is alright this morning. Must have done him good to get it out of his system. Guess it’s good for most of us sometimes. Bacon, macaroni, tomatoes, bread pudding and soup for dinner. Indoor instruction for the company today on account of heavy rain. Had beef steak, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, bread and coffee for supper. Dessert was milk and bread pudding. Looks like meals are improving.
Feb 19 - Played ball with Sgt. Zeisler in the Sergeants room nearly all morning. Cut Lieut. Hatch’s hair and had a very pleasant chat with him about our drive of Sept. 26 in the Argonne. Sergeant Jordan gave me a drink of good “Cognac” and when Bud and I wrestled this evening, I threw him the quickest I ever have been able to! Must have been strong, eh?
Feb 20 - 4 pancakes, syrup and coffee for breakfast. A beefsteak sandwich was issued each for their dinner as the whole company will be gone all day to a field near Commercy where they are holding a competition drill with one company from each regiment in the division and we have excellent prospects of winning first place. Rained this morning and tonight.
Feb 21 - Bacon, gravy, bread and coffee for breakfast. Beans, bread pudding, soup and bread for dinner. Company is at leisure this afternoon so they are enjoying themselves with a football outside the barracks. Stew, bread and coffee for supper. Tonight Pat McDonough, Joe Spaulding, John and I made coffee for ourselves in our room.
Feb 22 - 4 pancakes, syrup and coffee for breakfast. Washington’s birthday and we have a holiday in camp, so a lot of the boys are playing soccer. Beef steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, soup and bread for dinner. Buddy and I went to Commercy and had our pictures taken and at night we attended the boxing show. Brought a bottle of champagne and a high-grade white wine back to camp with us and held a little treat on our bunk with some of our room buddies. Champagne cost us 18 francs and the wine 12 francs.
Feb 23 - Rice, jam, bread and coffee for breakfast. Beans, tomatoes, soup and bread for dinner. Hamburger balls, fried onions, butter, bread and coffee for supper. John and I witnessed a soccer game between H and L Co’s which ended in a tie. After supper he and I kicked the soccer ball around so much, between barracks, that I am very tired tonight. Bright weather all day.
Feb 24 - Bacon, bread, jam and coffee for breakfast. Received four letters yesterday which was the first mail I have received in a long time. One was from brother Harry, Ethel Black of Lawton, Okla. and one each from Walter Koch and his father, Christ, of Highland, ILL. John got two, one from Alvina Kincaid of Racola, MO and one from his friend Elmer Boursian. In much better spirits since I received mail. Rain this morning for a short time. This afternoon Barber Walton, of I Co. and myself went to Commercy four some barber tools and walked to the village of Vignot trying to buy a spring for a hair-clipper. I went to see the boxing bouts in the evening but Walton went out and got so “lit” up, I almost had to drag him back to camp. I did not forget Buddy for I brought back 3 bottles for him.
Feb 25 - John got a letter from his foster-father, Wm. Kincaid and one from his sweetheart Cynthia Boyer, which pleased him very much. Competitive drill between squads this a.m.
Feb 26 - 4 pancakes, jam and coffee for breakfast. Last night Johnny Bettag, Bugler of D Co. came over to see me and it has been the first time I have seen him since we have been across, but I have wanted to throw a shoe at him more than once, even if I didn’t see him, for calling us so early for “Reveille”! Tonight while I am writing a letter, John and some of the fellows are having a hell-of-a-noisy time in the barracks, so I judge John is in much better spirits since he received word from home yesterday. He challenged me to a match, which I accepted and then I went over to Pat’s room and picked on Big Lem from New Florence, MO but as the boys were not looking for any tussling in their room, they ran me out! Some of the fellows out of our room who had to work on a detail Sunday all day were given a pass to Toul, so they are spending the day there, taking their lunches and going in trucks. The regimental drill schedule calls for competitive drill in the morning and games in the afternoon, for the week, so the boys are out playing ball and soccer. This afternoon K and I Co’s. had an athletic contest in which they split even on events. Tonight our regimental show troupe performed for the third battalion at the “Y” at Lerouville and the company attended in a body. The boys who were at Toulon pass, told us that the 7th Div. football team beat our divisional team 6 to 2 at a town near Toul.
Feb 27 - Rice, bread and coffee for breakfast. Wrote some more on John’s letter to his father last night but did not finish it as they were all making too much noise in the room so I just quit and we started another roughhouse wrestling party. Raining today so the boys are having indoor exercises. Stew, bread and coffee for dinner. We went to Commercy to get out pictures which are pretty good. Did some shopping and were lucky enough to catch a truck back to camp. John bought a very pretty rosary for his mother for 25 francs.
Feb 28 - Bacon, prunes, bread and coffee for breakfast. Today the companies in the battalion are having an intercom any athletic meet in all kinds of games for the championship for the battalion and I Co. could not win a single event. Beans, bread pudding and soup for dinner. Steak, potatoes, gravy, bread and coffee for supper. Wrote some more on John’s letter to his dad after which our evening exercises started and wound up with a card game.
Mar 1 - Regular Saturday inspection and the boys are busy cleaning up. It is a beautiful warm, sunshiny day. This morning the men are holding a formal ceremony for the purpose of decorating two sergeants and a Captain, in the second battalion, with the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery at the front in the Vosges Mts. In Alsace. Had boiled beef, gravy, potatoes with jackets, soup and bread for dinner. Salmon, macaroni, bread and coffee for supper. Stayed in the barracks room tonight and Buddy and I challenged Eddie Brown and Til Tyra for a round.
Mar 2 - Usual bill-of-fare. Sunday and we stayed home in the barracks all day. Company was paid off this afternoon and after supper John and I both added 250 francs to our bank roll.
Mar 3 - Rice, bread and coffee for breakfast. Raining hard this morning. Beans, tomatoes, soup and bread for dinner. John is on a regimental fatigue today. K Co’s. football tea misplaying Regimental Headquarters this afternoon and were Beaton 13 to 0. Beef steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, coffee and bread for supper. The General was on a tour of inspection and while here, he went into the Y.M.C.A. hut where he noticed the urns that the hot chocolate is made in and given out to the boys intervening. He was heard to remark to several of the Majors attending him, that he could not see why the boys had to have anything like that, for it did not do them any good. He was heard to make the remark by a fellow named Wilson who worked in the ”Y”. Suppose it should have gone to him.
Mar 4 - Rice, prunes, coffee and bread for breakfast. Did not have such good luck in our match last night as I skinned my shin on a fellow’s bayonet on the bunk next to mine and it is sore today. I don’t think it hurt the bayonet. Brownie said it served me right because I am always swinging my legs trying to get strangle hold on a fellow’s neck or waist line. The company took their lunch and hiked over to Apremont, East of Sampigny, where they retook at the trenches and dug-outs where some of the first battles were fought along the St. Mihiel front. It isn’t such a nice day, as it has rained all morning. The fellows who remained in quarters today had a spoon of cold beans, slice of corned willie and a piece of bread for dinner. Our cooks were too stingy to give us any coffee, so I went over to I Co’s. kitchen and got some which we made in our room. We had mashed potatoes, brazed beef, bread, butter, raw onions, and coffee for supper.
Mar 5 - Moved from Lerouville over to a place called Connerie. John and I are billeted in an old house right at the edge of the water and next to a concrete bridge. The room we occupy seems to have been a dance hall at one time for there is a railing around it and it is a fair sized room. There are quite a number bunking in the room.
Mar 6 - Nothing unusual in this period of time and did not to Mar 15, keep a daily record as it was only routine stuff.
Mar 16 - Stanley Budziewiski kept begging me to go on a furlough with him up in Brittany France but I did not care to go as we are expecting to start for home soon and I will have a vacation then. Sergeant Johnson advised me that if I wanted a leave of absence I had better take it, as all those who had wanted one, had taken theirs, so I told Bud that I would go. There were 14 of our company men going. Sergt. Johnson included.
Mar 17 - Started on furlough and reached to Mar. 20 Le Mans on the 20th where we stayed at the camp of the 85th or Black Hawk division from 9 a.m. to 9p.m. in the evening. During the day we visited the old Cathedral of Le Mans, a large structure, which dated back as far as708 A.D. Later additions to the church were made in 1026 A.D. It is rumored that Le Mans at one time was under the Roman rule of Julius Caesar and the city is supposed to be over 2,000 years old. It is a good-sized city and prosperous-looking. The camp here is used as a casual or replacement camp for American soldiers.
Mar 21 - Leaving La Mans by train yesterday evening at 9 p.m. and riding all night we reached Dinard in Brittany going by motor-boat from St. Malo where we left the train. We were assigned to a hotel in Dinard and immediately prepared to enjoy our vacation. This is a wonderful place especially down along he beach where the Casino is located on the water-front. Out at sea from here can be seen numerous large rocks, big enough for small island, jutting up out of the water with here and there a lighthouse on the larger ones. Our hotel is one that is reserved for American Soldiers who have leaves in the Brittany area and the people who run it are very nice to the “American Soldat”. I immediately made a hit with Marie, the girl who waits on tables in the dining-room and she is condescendingly reserved a table for two, for Bud and I, and the impression was valuable to us in other ways, for we could always be sure of an extra portion if we wished it. Some of the boys from other outfits staying at the hotel did not appreciate the “reserve” sign Marie had hung on this table but she politely let them know that she was the “generale” of the dining-room, so Bud and I were sitting easy!
Mar 22 - Spent the day at the Casino where they dance and which is now in charge of the Y.M.C.A. Before the war it was a gambling place I understand. Near-by is a beautiful large red brick mansion which they say at one time belonged to Harry K. Thaw.
Mar 23 - Bud and I took the boat over to St. Malo where we boarded the train for a day’s excursion to Mont St. Michel which is an island of rock surmounted by a wonderful, historical old cathedral full of interesting historical objects and dungeons. Surely a wonderful place to go. It is entirely surrounded by water and you approach it over a narrow-gauge railroad built on piles driven in the water. Shop-keepers and their families live here and they sell refreshments and souvenirs to visitors. It is surely worth-while to seethe place. The scenery on the way from St. Malo to Mont St. Michel is lovely in this part of the country for everyone knows that Brittany in France furnishes many interesting views for the people still retain their rustic methods of living and also their own peculiar style of dress. The white flaring bonnets of the women are especially noticeable. We left Mont St. Michel at 3 p.m. and stopped at Pleine-Forigerie and Pentorson for drinks and fresh air as there were a goodly number of passengers aboard. La Boussac is a small place in the Brittany area where there are many, many apple-trees to be seen and which is near the Normany line where their people also offer the outsider a chance to study the native types. Dol is a small place. La Fresnias has a beautiful church of good size, made of a mixed yellow and brown stone which makes a very interesting picture. Quite a few of the homes are made of the same material, with an attractive view. Getting back to St. Malo after a very enjoyable day excursion, we crossed the bay to the hotel in time for supper and after cleaning up a bit I went down to the Casino awhile. Bud was tired and stayed at the hotel. On my way home from the dance at the Casino, at 12 midnight, a crowd of chattering French mademoiselles made so much noise on their way home from the French “Y” that I stopped to see what the noise was all about and very shortly they all stopped as they were all going my way. We all proceeded homeward together, a merry crowd. Fanchette, a very comely little miss, lived at the hotel next to mine, so I had company all the way home.
Mar 24 - Sunday morning. Arose at 10:30. Rained all day. Could not do much sight-seeing.
Mar 25 - Bud and I went to Dinan today on an excursion getting back at 4 p.m. Went to the casino for awhile and listened to a concert by a 14 pc. French orchestra. Stayed at the Hotel de le Mer last night with a couple of friends from my outfit.
Mar 26 - Bud and I had our pictures taken this morning and while he went for a walk about the town, I went over to the “Y” Casino for an hours dancing which they have every morning from11a.m. to 12noon. Their ballroom floor is just grand to dance on. In the afternoon Tyl, Bud, and I made a trip to St. Lunaire, 4 kilometers from Dinard. After supper, a fellow named Paulsen, of G Co., 137th Inft., who lives on Semple Ave. St. Louis, MO and myself, had 9 o’clock tea with a wealthy, refined American-born French lady, named Madame Stebbins-Vallois, at her home called the “White House” opposite the Catholic churching Dinard. We had made her acquaintance at the hourly morning “Y” dances where she acted as a hostess to the American soldiers on furlough. She has an elegantly furnished home, with many interesting objects from all parts of the world, for she has traveled much, and we spent a very pleasant evening in her company. Had the pleasure of meeting a young girl relative of hers, who is the daughter of a French Marquis named Birzien and who was very fond of the American style of dancing which she was just learning.
Mar 27 - When I got home last night, Bud had managed to scrape up two bottles of perfectly good cognac somewhere so we had a party in our room at the hotel. What are vacations for, if you don’t enjoy them, especially in a soldier’s life! Danced this morning and afternoon at the “Y” with Mdlle. Birzien, so much, that her fiancee, a skinny-looking lounge warmer who did not dance well became nettled and took her for a walk on the beach, to get her away from the ballroom ands he was so anxious to learn as many American dance steps as possible!
Mar 28 - More dancing at the “Y” casino this morning from 11 to noon and then we returned to the hotel to prepare to return to our company as our 7 day leave of absence is at an end. Had supper at 6 p.m. and left for the railroad station at St. Malo where we were to take the train for camp. Certainly area gay young bunch of fellows returning to their camps for they all seemed to have enjoyed their furloughs. We have a jolly bunch in our compartment, consisting of Sgt. Schueeberger, Corp. Conley, “Whitey” and Brooks, of Headquarters Company of our regiment, 3 fellows of the 137th Regt. and myself and we surely are having plenty of entertainment. Left St. Malo at 10 in the evening and were pulled onto a railroad siding at Rennes until 4 a.m. Sat. morning.
Mar 29 - Reached Vitrie at 7 a.m. where we observed fine old cathedral and convent and there seemed to be plenty of nice, large building, as it is a town of fair size. It is raining and our compartment is one in a German passenger coach the French railroad is using and as there is a leak in the roof of it, it drips thru occasionally. Passing Laval, a fairly large city with plenty of nice churches, French barracks, and a large hospital. Montsurs is a very pretty place with a fine little river at the outskirts of the city. The landscape about the city of Evironn is beautiful. Sille’-La-Quillaume is a small place located in a picturesque and scenic valley. Conlie, a rustic-looking place, is an American Supply Depot. Reached Le Mans at12 noon where we changed trains for Connerie. We spent the afternoon here until our train was due, so we spent the time walking about the town. Saw a large number of English soldiers. Entraining in the evening, we passed thru Champagne, Pont-De-Gennes Montfort where a large chateau on the crest of a hill around which the town was built could be seen) and reached our camp at Connere’ about 6 p.m. very tired, so I went to bed early, being satisfied to be back after having had a wonderful and enjoyable leave of absence in the beautiful territory of Brittany.
Mar 30 - We are having a divisional inspection in quarters, today, being that there is too much snow and slush on the ground. Reported to the infirmary for a “shot” of serum in the arm after dinner and as there wanting else to do, Buddy and I took a walk about the town.
Mar 31 - My arm is very sore today from the injection of yesterday. The company walked to a place about 7 ½ kilometers from camp for a final regimental review before moving toward the coast. Huskey left for the Belgian camp near Le Mans, on a billeting detail, as w3e are to leave here in the morning. Went to the “Y” hut tonight to see a 7 real picture of the activities of the 35th division since being overseas.
Apr 1 - Hiked 15 kilometers today to our new camp at Le Mans where we found pretty good billets with bunks to sleep on. We had lunch along the road and as our packs and contents were hauled to this camp in trucks, it wasn’t such bad hiking for we only had to carry our belt with bayonet and rifle. Noticed a large number of French camouflaged cannon of all sizes on the side track at Champagne which is just outside our camp enclosure. The 91st division Engineers were just leaving their camp for a port of embarkation for home when we arrived at the Belgian camp. We had supper of corn willie, potatoes, catsup, bread and coffee. Tonight John and I went to the “Y” to seethe 6-reel picture “The Man Who Made Good”.
Apr 2 - Part of our regiment left today and yesterday for a coast port. I stood “Reveille” this morning for the first time in a long while. Washed all my equipment and then played ball with a bunch of fellows, on a pretty good diamond at this camp. This afternoon Otis Lee of Sugar Creek back home and Hugo May of Marine, ILL, who are in a Casual outfit here at Le’ Mans, came in the barracks to see me and later Sergeant Harvey Neudecker, Ed Schnurr, who is also located here. Later we saw a Hess boy of Marine who is also located here. Meals are not very good here. Huskey and I went to the “Y” tonight to see a “Dr. Lynn”, an English magician, give a show for the soldiers.
Apr 3 - We had a bath this morning and then got some different clothes. After dinner we had our final inspection here after which I cut hair all afternoon, for they needed a barber and I wanted the “change” as wear getting nearer to home and I felt I would need it later. In the evening John and I went to the “Y” to see an outfit of vaudeville minstrels of some Engineer’s Corp and on our way back to the barracks we both fell into a hole full of water up to our waists, it being so dark we could not see where we were going. Instead of making us mad, we had a lot of fun laughing at each other for falling into it. Ewing of our company, who was with us, also fell into the same puddle. Our meals here are very scant of a small variety.
Apr 4 - Did barber work all morning and after dinner I played ball with our company team against the Belgium camp team of this place and in which they defeated us 6 to 5 in the last inning of an error by our second baseman who threw the ball over our first-sacker’s head allowing two men to score. Some game at that! Tonight John and I went to the French picture show here and while we were there the fire whistle blew when fire was discovered, which burned two barracks building to the ground and made quite a blaze. They were occupied by the Regimental Bad and Headquarters Co. of our outfit and the Regimental Colors, with all their decorations, were consumed in the fire. Harry Zolk of Highland, who is a sergeant in one of the outfits here, came over and spent several hours chatting.
Apr 5 - This morning the company was on “fatigue” duty and in the afternoon they all had to stand a “cootie” inspection in the field. Tonight Rube Oswitz and I attended a very good vaudeville show given by some fellows who called her act “Musical Bits” at the “Y”. We have had no wrestling exhibitions for some time, as we all decided we did not need any more unnecessary exercise being that wear heading for home.
Apr 6 - Barbered this morning and as it was a nice, sunshiny day I went over to see a soccer game between a team of the 138th Inft. And the 28th div. in which they beat us 7 to 0. Our first battalion left this morning for the coast. Attended the French picture show again tonight.
Apr 7 - Cut hair all day. The second battalion, with the bad and headquarters company, left today for St. Nazaire, the port of embarkation. Went to see Jos. Hundsdorfer in camp here. Played ball from supper until sundown which was about 8 p.m. and then went to a picture-show at the Indiana “Y” hut.
Apr 8 - Rolled our packs this a.m. and then cleaned up around our billets before leaving for St. Nazaire in American box cars. Left Champagne station at 4:45 p.m. Had a hot supper on the train and rode all night. Passed thru Voivre La Suze Noyen, Sable, Nantes and reached St. Nazaire, on the coast about 3:00 a.m. where we unloaded.
Apr 9 - It is about three miles to camp from the railroad and it was pretty tiresome hiking with our heavy packs after riding all night without any rest. This is a large camp and we are in camp#2. John got sort of gay last night on the train, on route to camp here, and I had to demonstrate to him that I could still hold him down! We had venereal and equipment inspection this morning. It is raining. This afternoon we moved to camp #1 where we are to stay several days. Saw the 28th Division’s show called “Who are You”, a musical show, that was very good, at the Salvation Army Recreation Building.
Apr 10 - Spent the day lounging about the billets as the officers did not seem to have anything for us to do. Roy McCrady and I went to the quartermasters to get a new pair of shoes and they gave us a couple of pairs of resoled, run over, moldy, salvage shoes which we could not wear. This afternoon, two little 13 year old French boys came into our barracks and drilled for us in our manual of arms, which they had learned to execute quite good from other American outfits who had been billeted there ahead of us and all the boys rewarded their efforts with the large French “clankers” or centimes for we had a bushel of fun out of them. The meals are not very good here and the came isn’t any better for it is like a prison camp and plenty of mud to wade in. A lot of mail for the outfit came in today and I received two issues of the Highland Leader. We were paid tonight for March and in U.S. coin for the first time in France. Huskey and I went to seethe same show weasels night at the Salvation hut.
Apr 11 - Regimental parade this morning and the regiment was presented with a beautiful new flag by some French Naval officer and staff, in the name of Marshal Joffre, after which we “Passed in Review”. It was a very impressive and inspiring sight. This afternoon “Cap” Arthur Schmetter came over to see me. He is with the 309th Engineers who are located at Camp Montoir, about 7 kilometers from St. Nazare.
Apr 12 - Awful meals today. Had burnt rice and watery coffee for breakfast and grissly meat, raw boiled-potatoes with jackets, piece of onion, thin gravy and weak coffee for dinner. I could not eat it, so went back for “seconds” and got some canned beans, left-over rice from breakfast and more weak coffee. In the afternoon we took a bath and got a change of underwear over at the “Delousing” Station. Saw a 6-reel picture of Julius Ceasar and a musical program by 3 “Y” girl entertainers. Rained all day.
Apr 13 - Palm Sunday today. Cut hair until 3 o’clock in the afternoon then went to see a ball game. Coast artillery guns were booming a salute or farewell, this morning when a bunch of troop ships departed from the St. Nazaire docks for home. Huskey and I went to the “Y” picture show.
Apr 14 - Rain all day and usual rotten meals. K Co. furnished a burial firing squad for some fellow out of the 120th Inft. Who died of pneumonia. Saw a short reel of Chaplin at the “Y” tonight and also Mutt and Jeff in “The Decoy.”
Apr 15 - More rain this a.m. Part of the 139th and 140th Regiments sailed today. Sunshine this afternoon and a strong wind blowing. Went to the “Y” tonight with Harry Meyer and saw a bunch of S.O.S. men of the St. Nazaire district put on the musical comedy “The Pink Stocking” which was good. There were seven female impersonators who did some clever singing and dancing and who had some very pretty gowns. We had our final physical and venereal inspection at Camp no. 2 this evening as we are scheduled to leave tomorrow afternoon. Glory hallelujah!
Apr 16 - Busy all morning rolling my pack for the last time in France! Cleaned up the barracks and then the company formed on the parade grounds, from where we hiked down to Dock #2 where we were loaded onto the large U.S.S. Aeolus about 6 p.m. for our farewell trip across the old Atlantic. This is a large ship with real American blue jackets manning it. Our whole regiment is aboard with the exception of a few men of several of our units. A small group of 28th division men are aboard our ship. Spoonful of beans, tea and bread for supper. Went to bed early and during the night we drifted out into the bay where we are awaiting the return of many of the ships crew who are on shore leave in Paris.
Apr 17 - Oatmeal, an orange, bread and coffee for breakfast. We are packed aboard this boat like sardines and hardly have room to turn around, there are so many aboard. An accident would surely play havoc on this ship. The bunks and hammocks are placed so close together, they look like chicken coops. The officers have electric fans, negro waiters and the best of eats. Wish I was an officer! We all have orders to wear overalls and jumpers to protect our O.D. clothes and the joke of it is that most of us are wearing clothes that were “revived” out of salvage piles of clothing at different camps in which we were billeted. Good-bye France and all the joys and miseries we endured while on your shores for we sailed out in the ocean, out of sight of land and France, at about 11 a.m. with ideal weather and a calm sea. A few of the boys are seasick already. Beans, beef, potatoes, bread and coffee for dinner. Band concert this afternoon. Spend most sometime reading and lying on my bunk as a person tires of water.
Apr 18 - Calm ocean and clear weather and the boat is churning smoothly thru the water. Three whales spouting water some distance from our boat. This ship is fairly large and was a German freighter formerly. Beans, coffee, and orange and a spoonful of grits for breakfast. Passed a 4-masted schooner, the Mary Palmer of N.Y. which as having trouble with the pumps refusing to work properly and her hold was full of water most of the time. She had been at sea for 30 days and they had our ship wireless to Brest, France for help and we then continued on our way. A large number of sharks swam close to our boat. We do not see the large number of sea gulls hovering around us like at St. Nazaire before setting sail. Spent most of the day and evening reading George Barr McCutcheon’s “A Daughter of Anderson Crow” and it was interesting. We have access to a number of books in the library aboard ship.
Apr 19 - Did not eat any breakfast as I did not care for “grits” or mush. Still calm sea. “Cootie” inspection after dinner. Ate so many cakes and chocolates bought at the cantine aboard ship that I did not group for dinner. After supper went down in the hold of the ship where they had a moving picture called “The Clodhopper” which was very good. As there are no seats, we all lie on our stomachs on the floor and watch the picture. Went to bed with the ship rolling considerably.
Apr 20 - Easter Sunday! The sky is cloudy and the weather moderate. Scrambled eggs, stewed prunes, coffee for breakfast. The band played church hymns for the service on the fore deck this morning. We had stewed chicken (small portions) chicken gravy, corn, sweet potatoes, coffee and bread for dinner. Some dinner! Potato salad, sausage, piece of cheese, jam, bread and hot chocolate for supper. Huskey and I spent the afternoon lying on my bunk reading our books. After supper we watched the movies a while and then came on deck, leaning on the railing of the ship and watching the phosphorus sparkling in the water like so many little stars. At9:30 at night a large steamship passed us with all lights burning and headed for the U.S. Upon signaling by wireless the operator stated it was the large, fast sailing Leviathian, formerly The Vaterland, a German ship.
Apr 21 - Yesterday the “Olympic” also passed us in mid-ocean. We must be aboard a slow-moving tub! Had boat drill this afternoon for a test on speed in abandoning a ship in case of accident. We walk about continually with a life-saver tied about our body. The band played a half hour concert this morning.
Apr 22 - We are a little better than half-way across the ocean and going good. Passed a sailing ship which barely seemed to be crawling. After slackening our speed and giving a few flag signals we continued on our way. Read all afternoon and went to see the pictures after supper. Huskey and I spent quite a little time leaning over the rail watching the phosphorus again.
Apr 23 - Wednesday and we are sailing along very nicely although a very brisk wind is blowing and considerable rocking of the boat. In the afternoon some of our divisional body-stable put on several sparring exhibitions between Murphy (of Kans. City) McCarthy, Forbes, Bud Clancy and Harry Webb of St. Louis. They are all members of the 138th Regiment.
Apr 24 - Bright and sunshiny this morning, and after eating breakfast, I stood at the rail and watched the sun’s rays form pretty little rainbows in the spray of the waves as they dashed away from the side of the ship. Occasionally we see a sea-gull flying about the ship, out here in mid-ocean, and I sometimes wonder if they do not have arresting place on some part of the ship on the rear end. Cootie inspection and half-hour concert this afternoon.
Apr 25 - We are about 700 miles from the U.S. this morning according to information from one of the ship’s crew. This afternoon, a whale a short distance from our ship, was spouting water high in the air. Went down in the “hold” to the movies with Rube Oswitz, leaving John up on deck reading and we met Johnny Bettag who stayed with us during the show. There was a strong wind blowing all evening and tonight it is cold and disagreeable. The wind blew water across the decks all evening.
Apr 26 - Cold as the deuce aboard ship this morning when we arose. Saturday, and the chaplain told us yesterday that we would probably land sometime Sunday. I am reading “Raffles” for my last book while aboard. The boat officers forced all of us out on deck while they inspected the sleeping quarters. It would not be bad if it were not for the fact that there was a high-speed, cold wind blowing a miserably chilly rain ahead of it and as there was no protection from it on deck and no room to move away from it, the men had to stand, huddled together like sheep trying to keep warm, but they got cold and wet just the same. It was cold all day and in the evening the sea became very rough, the ship tossing and rolling and nose diving awfully. Spent the afternoon and evening trying to teach Buddy how to play pinochle and had t a lot of fun with him over the effort.
Apr 27 - Calm and smooth at sea today. We are approaching Newport News, Va, but have not sighted land as yet and it is 5:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon and a very warm day, quite different from the cold and ugly weather of yesterday. We glimpsed lights on shore about 8:30 p.m. after we had entered Chesapeake Bay. All the boys are shouting joyously as they spy the first lights and all are restless and impatient forth morning as we are to land in the good old U.S.A. then.
Apr 28 - Landed at Newport News during the early morning hours and spent the morning unloading. The Navy and our regimental bands played for us while we waited on shore for all of them to land so as to form in marching order. The Red Cross women gave us a cake of chocolate, a cake and a package of Camel cigarettes when we landed. Buddy and I did not yell like the other lads when we landed, but nevertheless we were just as happy as any of them. We sailed up Hampton Roads into Chesapeake Bay through a lane of battleships and other sailing craft, which made an imposing spectacle. We paraded thru the streets of Newport News where the people were very good to us, welcoming us home and giving us candy, gum, cigarettes, ice cream cones and ice water, for it was a very hot morning. Hiked two miles to Camp Hill at the outskirts of the city and a nice camp, quite different from those across the ocean. A delegation of Missouri Senators, Women’s Auxiliary members, National Guard members and several speakers came from St. Louis, MO in a special coach and were to meet us out in the bay, accompanying our ship to the dock with a tug-boat, but they reached Newport News just an hour too late and, of course, were sorely disappointed. They welcomed many of the boys later in the camp. Filled our straw-sacks for our beds this evening and after supper John and I walked over the “Y”. Signed the payroll today.
Apr 29 - Cut hair all afternoon. Seems as though they blow a whistle here every fifteen minutes for the men to line up outside. We had to take our bed-sacks, which we filled with fresh straw yesterday afternoon, and dump it all in the bay as we are to have a bath and then sent our clothing thru the steam machine or “delouser” but as we did not go anyway, our straw was uselessly wasted. Sent home a box of souvenirs to mother. Arthur Wittbrodt and I walked to town after supper and spent the evening at a large carnival going on, full blast. While we were seated in a negro minstrel tent watching the show, a negro slid in under the side of the tent closely followed by a soldier and a sailor who proceeded to beat the “stuffing” out of him, which surely caused a halt in the show and during which a lady seated in front of us very quietly dropped off into a faint in the excitement. It all happened so quickly and no one knew why they beat him up, but they did a good job of it and after a few minutes to compose the crowd, the show continued on to it’s finale.
Apr 30 - Played ball in the afternoon. We had our “cootie” bath this p.m. Huskey, Budziwiski and I spent the evening at the Carnival ground.
May 1 - Egmon, Huskey and I went to a little store for some milk and pie, the first pie we have had for quite sometime. It is raining this morning but we had to line up outside the barracks about eight times for different things. Company went up to the Quartermaster Corp to draw new clothes and such a mixture of fits and colors you never saw in your life. Such freaks! Being small, I had a hard time to get anything suitable but I finally managed to get a fair uniform.
May 2 - Washed some underclothes this a.m. and then went over to a camp tailor shop to have my uniform altered. Took a walk through the new town of Hilton which is an attractive place near the Aviation Camp and, I think, is mostly homes of officers. The regiment passed in review before Col. Rieger at this Aviation Camp and then the photographers took a picture of the whole outfit. After supper August Dangus and I went to Newport News to the Strand Theatre and afterwards to the West Carnival where we saw the “De Quinceys” do a 96-foot high dive into a tank of water.
May 3 - Pay-day and, as a result, nearly all the boys are in town enjoying themselves. John, Budziwieski and I went to the Olympic Theatre where we saw a good Keith Circuit vaudeville.
May 4 - A warm Sunday. Joe Spaulding, William Fanning and I took a street-car ride to Fortress Monroe at Old Point Comfort to see the large naval gun fortifications there. Walked along the beach and out on to the docks and also saw the coast artillery defense guns which command a good range of Chesepeake Bay’s entrance. Saw Ocean View across the Bay and also the boats, steamships, yachts, submarine chasers and sailboats out in Hampton roads. We had supper at a Y.M.C.A. in Newport after spending enjoyable afternoon.
May 5 - Inspection morning and afternoon. Did a little barber work and stayed in camp.
May 6 - Col. Rieger delivered a talk to the regiment this afternoon but Huskey and I had gone to town to have his uniform altered so we did not hear his talk. Went to the Olympic and Strand Theatres while in Newport.
May 7 - Rolled packs and got aboard an all Pullman train for St. Louis at 11:45 a.m. We have 103 men and officers in our company. Rained hard this morning. Passed thru Camp Alexander on our way out over the Chesapeake and Ohio R.R. Passed Williamsburg, a pretty place and Norge, a dilapidated looking little village. Had beans, coffee, and bread for dinner on the train and when we reached Richmond the train stopped long enough for us to get off and get hot coffee, a couple of small cakes, 1 cigarette, folder of matches, a post card and a stick of gum which was given us, each, by the Richmond chapter of the Red Cross. Passed thru Verdon, Va., Beaver Dam, Pendleton, where tie-making seemed to be the main labor. Huskey, Vogel, Budziwiski and I played pinochle all afternoon. Gordonville, Va. Is a scenic place, being near a ridge of mountains which I think is part of the Blue Ridge. Just out of Keswick, Va, we could see the beautiful country home of some Southerner, with steeplechase and everything. It is between Keswich and Shadwell, Va. The scenery hereabouts is very attractive. Charlottville, a pretty college town, is the home of the University of Va. which has some lovely college buildings. The boys in our coach had a lot of fun flirting with a couple girls in a house across from where our train stopped for a few moments. Leo Tighe and Bill King, seem to have had the most fun out of it. I went on guard from 9 to 11, a guard being placed at each end of the coach. Rained very hard at 7:30 in the evening. It is a moonlight night and it is surely beautiful to go winding about thru the mountains aboard the train. Passed Staunton, Va. a thriving town of 16,000 inhabitants and the birthplace of former President Woodrow Wilson.
May 8 - Thurmond, W. Va., is the first place we saw in the morning and it is a pretty place, as the scenery beyond here is simply grand, solid walls of rock rising to good heights, a muddy, swirling river, a number of small suspension foot-bridges and the sun shining over the mountain top, made a very pleasing picture to the eye. McDougall, is a small place but set in the midst of all this grand mountain scenery. The river runs along parallel to the C. and O. tracks here. Ganley is only a small way-station on the line but there is some wonderful scenery here as tier upon tier of solid rock, swirling water and tree-covered mountains are to be seen on both sides and a Kodak would find plenty of material here for some very excellent photography. Kanawha Falls boasts as most gorgeous-appearing waterfall as it rushes over a solid bed of rock of good width and in all manner of fantastic shapes. Passed Montgomery, W. Va., a mining town. Charleston, St. Albans, Hurricane, Ona, Guyanot, and into Huntington, large and prosperous looking, with many up to date buildings. We were issued a ham and jelly sandwich, coffee, and a cigarette by the Red Cross Chapter, free of charge. John and I bought some very delicious pie and had a feed on the train. The hills about Huntington look lovely. Passed Big Sand Junction, Cliffside Park and the Kentucky Solvay Co. plant on the outskirts of Ashland, KY. Which is a lively place of good size and many beautiful homes. Thru Eddington, KY to Portsmouth and on to Vanceburg on the banks of the Ohio river. At 5:45 p.m. we reached Newport, KY where we cross the Ohio River into Cinncinnati, Ohio which we can plainly see from the train. This city has many churches as we see numerous spires. WE were switched onto the Baltimore thru Lawrence, and Aurora, Ind. About 8:30 in the evening!
May 9 - When I awoke we were somewhere east of Breese, ILL. and I ate breakfast as we passed thru the town and when we reached Trenton, I felt as though I should jump from the train and walk the ten miles across country to Highland, but perhaps I would not have been able to walk it, after jumping, for we were traveling at a good rate. As we entered East St. Louis we were greeted by a continuous whistling of engines which was kept walkthrough the railroad yards in St. Louis on out to Jefferson memorial where we were to detrain and prepare for our parade through the downtown section. Such a noise and hustle and bustle. Seemed as though everybody in the country was in St. Louis that day to welcome back St. Louis’ own. The 138th regiment and oh, how pleased we were to think that so many were really interested in our return! Surely a proud moment for those of us who were lucky enough to return to our homes unharmed. Forming in a line at the Memorial in Forest Park, we prepared for our final parade as Uncle Sam’s boys and many of us were anxious to get it over with so we could get home again to peace and quiet. We started down Locust Street, thru the downtown streets, where literally thousands upon thousands of sweet peas and other flowers were scattered over our heads and shoulders by loyal admirers who were leaning from windows of the large buildings downtown. Newspapers the next day stated it was the largest crowd ever assembled in St. Louis’ history up to that date. Marching to 12th Str. we passed the Reviewing Stand containing the Governor, Mayor and other prominent officials and passed under the Victory Arch erected to our honor all the while having an aeroplene hovering over us, dropping American Beauty roses on the head of the column. Grateful people and memories that will be everlasting. Reaching City Hall Park at 12th and Market Strts. we were given three hours freedom and being tired from the noise and excitement of greeting old friends, John and I sought a quiet place on the third floor of the City Hall where we sat down and tried to rest but they find you and seemed to think you should eat and drink everything they give you. I was wishing I could have had a lot of those things across the pond but, oh well, that’s all past and gone now, so let it rest. We entrained again at the 18th Str. yards to the stirring strains of John Sousa’s 100-piece band with his own famous personage at the head of it and at 9 p.m. left for Camp Funston, Leavenworth, Kans where we were to be discharged from service. Passed thru Washington MO at 11:00 p.m. and I then decided I want a little restful sleep after this day’s work.
May 10 - Arrived Kansas City, MO at 8 a.m. where there was a tremendous crowd on hand awaiting the 140th Infantry, which was composed mostly of Kansas boys, and they gave us all a royal welcome. Reached Lawrence, Kans. at 11 a.m. The MO river runs parallel to the MO-Pac, tracks for quite a distance at this point. Reached Topeka at 12 o’clock whether Red Cross women presented us with oranges. Just out of Topeka we were shoved in on a siding and the boys aboard the coach I was in, made an old negro lady very happy by filling her apron with sandwiches, peanuts, oranges and apples. St. Mary and Manhatton, Kans. were rather nice little towns. Reached Camp Funston at 2:30 p.m. and already some of our boys who had reached camp before us, were leaving with suitcases and discharge papers in their hands and a happy smile. This camp contains very many barracks, mess-halls, entertainment huts, etc. and covers quite an area. The company is very buys signing discharges and medical reports.
May 11 - Last physical examination this morning. We have very good meals in our mess hall. John and I went to the Gaiety and the Liberty Theatres to see their vaudeville programs. This morning we turned in our rifles and equipment and now have but very little to bother us until we are turned loose. We got a good soaking on our way to the show tonight for it just poured down.
May 12 - This morning we turned in our mess-kits and blankets, were paid off and handed our discharges and we are now able to try and think and act for ourselves. Guess we will make it alright through. John and I immediately grabbed our suit cases and made a “bee-line” for the station where we purchased tickets for St. Louis, byway of Kansas city over the Rock Island Lines. Gee-willigans, I feel so good to be loose and free again that I believe I can whip my weight in wildcats! Kansas city at 5 p.m. where we checked our grips and then ate a very good supper at the War Work Service Community Club for Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. We met Shotwell and he went with John and I to the Globe Theatre where we spent about an hour until train-time, seeing a vaudeville show. We left Kansas City at 9 p.m.
May 13 - When I woke up this morning we were passing Jeffriesburg, MO and soon reached Union about 7:30 a.m. The country is very nice surrounding this seemingly busy little town. Pulled into St. Louis at 8:00 a.m. and we went direct to the old Benton Hotel on Pine Str and engaged a room for a week. This morning we purchased civilian suits at Famous-Barr Clothing Co. and hustled around until we had bought all the things we needed for the change into private life again. In the afternoon we met Ray Kyle downtown and the three of us attended the performance at the Grand Opera House on Sixth Street.
May 14 - Today John and I had dinner with Arnold Appel at the Grand-Leader and in the afternoon we attended the Orpheum Theatre. Before we went to the show we met Rapley Peek who was on his way to Oklahoma for a visit to his mother. Also met Keith Tibbitts and we adjourned to Melsheimer’s Café for a drink. Yesterday and last night John and I, who are free men now, had our little drink too.
May 15 - After arising about 10 a.m. (you know we don’t have to listen to Johnny Bettay and his infernal bugle at 5:30 anymore) we went out to purchase some more clothes after dinner decided to pay Forest Park Highlands a visit and we met Teddy Balsiger there, who spent the evening with us. We still had a little drink left for a party tonight in our hotel room.
May 16 - We met Olson Siegrist and Julius Spindler downtown. Arnold Appel, who is one of the officers of the Hess and Culbertson Jewelry Co. induced me to allow him to place my German war souvenirs in one of their display windows and so they are being viewed by hundreds of people, daily, who pass the large plate-glass show-windows on Seventh Str., just off Washington Avenue.
May 17 - Saturday and, after getting up we went out for dinner, after which we saw the Browns beat Boston 2 to 1 in a snappy ballgame. Called on Mrs. Bertha Piper on Armand Place, with whom I was boarding when I joined the 138th Regiment. After supper we met Rube Oswitz at the Highlands.
May 18 - Sunday and the parting of the ways for two army buddies, for John is going home to Racola, MO to his family, friends, and sweetheart and I, back to Highland to my mother and kid sister who lives with her and we are both going to take up the reins again in civilian life, where we left off, when we started into the Great War of the ages and I hope the friendship formed by us, and with all our other buddies in arms, may continue throughout our span of life. God Bless and be good to them all, wherever they may wander.
And so it ends, “The Diary of a Doughboy” who did his daily duty as long as it was required of him and his hope is that anyone, who may by any chance, read these daily reminiscences, see some tem that may be of some possible good to the one reading it and thereby derive a beneficial thought.
Original two-volume set of books copied by
Carolyn McGuire, of Potosi, MO
Completed Jan. 12, 2000
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