DIARIES OF
SAMUEL MILLER KEPLINGER JR.
AMBULANCE DRIVER

SOMME
LANCHY --- NOYON --- St. QUENTIN

Maissemy --- Holnon
August 2, 1917 to October 30, 1917

Obtained cars at Noyon August first 1917. Joined our division --- #158 --- at Nesle where we encamped just outside the city for three weeks.

Location of camp, points visited, evacuation hospital, front postes and road conditions.

Cantonement reached about Aug. 29, 1917. Situated at Lanchy, ten kilometers north of Ham (Somme), and a little further southeast of Peronne. Base hospital also located at Lanchy.

(From Harry Crosby letter to his mother August 27, 1917 about 'residence at Lanchy'.) " You ought to see the inmates of this "place" huddled together on their stretchers and vainly endeavoring to keep dry from the rain pouring in. This tent is fairly similar to an ordinary sieve. Water trickles in at every opening, streams through all the openings in small rivulets dripping through at every angle. To keep dry is a task worthy of Mr. Hercules himself.")

 

Front Postes.

Maissemy, Marteville, Attily and Holnon the night poste of Attilly. All in a general easterly direction from Lanchy. Maissermy & Holnon are both about three to four kilometers from the front line trenches. Holnon four and a half from St Quentin (Aisne) ( In German hands).

Evacuation hospitals about six in Ham one in Cugny, Guiscard. Occasional trips to Noyon (Oise). Points evacuated from Falvy (near Athies), Quiviers & Beauvois. Roads in fine condition especially state roads between large cities. Road between Ham and Noyon in perfect shape and in a straight line. Roads to postes, good and because of heavy artillery movements are constantly being worked upon. Abri (underground dugout) at Maissemy 12 feet --- at Holnon 60 feet. None at Marteville. Occasional call to Maison-de-Guene.

 

Harry Crosby

Samuel Miller Keplinger

 

Maxwell (Max) Rose

Original personnel of Section Soixante et Onze.
1. Anspach, Aviator
2. Battles, Dick
3. Battles, Porter
4. Baum
5. Block, Blockie
6. Brown, Jimmie
7. Brickley, Brick
8. Chapelt, Shap
9. Conant, Rog (er)
10. Crosby, Harry
11. Fay (Tugger)
12. Fearing, George
13. Fox, foxy
14. Garvin, George
15. Honig, Honig
16. James,
17. Kaiser, Kize (Stuart)
18. Keplinger, Kep
19. King, Jack
20.Lewis, Ted
21. Leanord
22.May
23. Moran
24. Munson1
25. Packard, Pack
26. Paul, Morris
27. Phelan, Bill
28. Rogers, Jim
29. Salinger, Dick
30. Samuels, Sammy
31. Sandol, Sandy
32. Spaulding, Spud
33. Space,
34. Speers, Mr. (Lt.)
35. Swassey, Swags
36. Sproul, Big Swede
37. Shepley, Shep (Phil)
38. Trash, Billy
39. Wallace,
40. Wheeden, Ben
41. Wright
42. Wiengarten,
43. Rose, Max
44. Weeks, Ted
Numbers 14 and 37 joined us after a month at the front.

 

A few tales (tails) concerning a few asses.

#1 is called aviator for the simple reason he tried to be one. He, accompanied by Brick (who also retained the name for a while) deserted our camp at Nesle and, traveling as British officers, went to Paris for the aviation examination. Both were turned down.

Three weeks after arriving at the front #1 disappeared. He was kicked out. Brick stayed with us, however.

 

Fate of a "tank" as told by Paul Robert, and Cause --- Sept. 12, 1917

A British tank started across No-mans' land. It was not the first attempt so the Bosche was ready for it. The trenches had been widened to such an extent that it was impossible for the tank to span them. It went head first into the first trench, and stuck there at the mercy of the machine guns and light artillery. It was riddled with bullets and later was burned --- the gasoline tank caught fire. The men in it were horribly mutilated.

But now the British are lengthening the caterpillar track so wide trenches won't stop them

 

Treatment and comparison of treatments with
results of a Bosche aviator prisoner. Oct. 16 1917

A Bosche observation plane was brought down near Holnon. It lit at a spot in full view of St. Quentin. I evacuated the observer --- the pilot was killed . His instruments and maps were intact. He was badly wounded in the spine so couldn't walk. We first took him to be interrogated. There he was brutily used. The interrogater yelled to him to get up and walk. It was impossible. Then the guard, who had ridden down with us, roughly thru him over his shoulders, carried him in the room and dropped him on the floor. The door was shut but Fearing & I could hear him yell and could distinctly hear them beating him. Evidently no information was given by the observer for he was transferred to Noyon.

At Noyon they treated him with care and made him comfortable. He gave them information, He had a map of the German trenches as well as one of the French.

I'll never forget the beating he got at Ham. Fearing & I were nearly mobbed because we objected to the rough handling he got from that guard. The guard said "If your country had been torn down, women raped, children killed ect. You would feel the same as I --- like cutting his throat"

C'est la Guerre

(Crosby letter of Oct 17, 1917. "Yesterday an anti-air-craft battery about 50 yards from the poste brought down a Boche. The pilot was instantly killed but the observer escaped death. One of our boys took him to the hospital.

Right here let me tell you to be sure not to forget to remind me to tell you something more about this when I get home, but what I want to say would surely be censored here.)

 


 

VERDUN

Belrupt - Poste at Haudromont
November 3, 1917 --- December 8, 1917

Repose at Andernay
December 8, 1917 to December 27, 1917

(From Crosby's letters November 3, 1917. "Here we are at Verdun the most famous place in the history of the World. We came here to-day in two camions (trucks) It was the most wonderful ride down here that I've ever had. At 9 a.m. we pulled out of Bar-le-Duc; after about twenty kilometers we began to see what real modern warfare behind the lines is. As far as I could see was a long line of huge camions, troops on the march, huge 280 cannons, ammunition trains, revitaillement wagons, kitchen carts, and racy staff cars. Way back for miles and miles this seemingly endless column stretched till it dwindled completely out of sight on the horizon. To the right of our road five railroad lines packed with cars of every type from the ordinary freight car to the gigantic naval guns. Beyond these tracks was a large canal tightly jammed with enormous clumsy looking canal boats. Beyond this, the Meuse river. Aviation hangers, vast motor parks, artillery barracks, dug-outs, every conceivable shelter. Everything was camouflaged --- from tiny staff cars to the huge caterpillar-wheeled motor tractors dragging immense cannon. There is more traffic here than in the busy sections of downtown New York. Everybody rushing to and fro. Mud-bespattered dispatch riders, tearing staff cars, rattling artillery trains rush along these roads. This is War all right. I've never been so impressed in all my life. The tremendous scale on which things are carried out is beyond all conception. The scenery is marvelous. Winding columns of men clad in their blue coats, weighted down with their heavy knapsacks, rifles slung over their shoulders were crowding every passage towards Verdun. Camions heavily loaded crept through the mud. We passed several dead horses lying in grotesque poses in the fields. Cultivation goes on to right up behind the trenches. Most of the houses are standing, as the Boches never got past Verdun. ............We are stationed in a huge wooden barrack about three miles out of Verdun itself. .......... ...We live 20 kilometers back of the lines as they say the shelling is terrific. Eight cars --- Fords --- go out at a time. The abri at the post is electric lighted and steam heated. It was left by the Germans when they recently retreated in last September's attack. Enormous 280 cannon fire right over our heads along the road. .......... There isn't a square yard that isn't pockmarked with shell craters. .... ......... The mud here is thick to say the least. We splatter through it in these dinky little Flivvers at a great rate. Horses, many vehicles, all are coated inches deep in the slimy stuff. .........)

Headquarters in poor barracks at Belrupt three kilometers from city of Verdun.

With the 38, 408 and 86th regiments; 120th division 13th Army corps of the second army. Commanded by divisional commander General Murdock.

Hospital at Beaulieus, a kilometer southeast of Verdun.

Only poste (day driving only) at Haudromont. Reached by skirting Verdun just across a canal on the edge of Faubourg. Pava, on up thru Bras, then a sharp turn to the right and up thru the hills. Another route --- a turn to the right a kilometre on the Verdun side of Bras going up over the hill; passing not far from Fort Douamont and thru the absolutely nil city of Fleury. Just a site of dirt there.

Eight cars on duty each day. Four at hospital and four at poste. When one came from poste to hospital another took its place. A very dangerous poste in that the Verdun sector has been purely and artillery scrap since the push in 1916. We were right in the midst of the French artillery which was constantly being shelled.

The mud is the only thing that saves our lives. All the cars --- at one time or another --- were covered with mud. Plastered with it from a shell landing within a few feet of the car.

Five cars were put out of commission by shells --- three entirely demolished. One car was blown to pieces (hit in the rear) and the driver, Harry Crosby, who was in it at the time was not even scratch. A fellow, Spud Spaulding, was hit by éclat from the same shell and was sent to hospital --- getting another éclat wound from shrapnel on the ride to the hospital. Both wounds in chest --- fully recovered.

 

(Letter from Crosby November 23rd, 1917. - ............. It was our turn at the poste de secours. Throughout the morning the Boches were sending over shell after shell of shrapnel, so that it wasn't exactly fun driving. Toward 5 p.m. they started shelling both our roads to the poste. It turned out that Weeden and Paul in one car, and yours truly alone on 741 started to go up. Here's where the trouble started. We covered the first _ on the journey O.K. --- then as we tore over the dangerous stretch the big shells started to come in one after the other right by the road sending up everything in big geysers. Talk about being petrified ! We all nearly passed out. There wasn't a sign of a soul stirring anywhere as all the Frenchmen had taken to abris. Dead horses, overturned wagons and débris of every sort lay strewn over the road. Suddenly a whizz-bang and a vast heavy hit the side of the hill hardly 40 yards away. Bang and another monster steamed in and burst with a terrific explosion. Then came two more right on our other side. The éclats were shining and you could hear the shells screeching in. I nearly passed out completely. We managed to reach the poste. I started to turn my car round and had just stalled it in front of Spud's car (Ben Weeden and Paul were right back of me, while Spud was standing in the door of the abri laughing at my stalling the bus) when a shell burst not ten yards away on top of a little stone ridge. I instinctively shot down to the floor of the car which saved my young life. There was a deafening explosion and then flying rocks, éclats, mud, everything in sight shot past us. Spud was hit and knocked down, his car was shot to h... , my car with yours truly in it was peppered with everything and was a mere mass of wreckage. --- the whole top caved in, and gaping holes in its sides ............ He (Spud) was hit just above the heart by a piece of éclat, but luckily through the grace of our Lord it wasn't very serious, although not a very slight wound............. Ben and I volunteered to take him down over the road in Phil's car which had just arrived and had escaped, mine and Spud's being out of commission. ........... They waited awhile for the fire to slow up a bit and for Spud to recover a little and then they shoved him in the Ford and off we went. We also had two other wounded with us. ........... They were shelling the road and it was very unpleasant. We had to wait for a truck which was jammed in the middle of the road. I'll never forget that wait --- short though it was. It's bad enough going but when you are not moving it is Helvetia. We got about 1/3 of the way down --- the French guns blazing away at a tremendous pace and a few arrivées coming in when Spud got it again, and éclat passing through the brass name-plate on the car. .......... I never thought the Flivver would make the steep grade but she just did. I was out pushing her. It must have been a ludicrous sight. .......... )

 

Saw wonderful displays of the famous artillery drum fire --- kept going for 48 hours!! At night the whole sky along the front was lit up similar to a large fire.

Went on repose Dec. 8 (1917) to Andernay

 


 

REPOSE AT ANDERNAY

December 8, 1917 to December 27, 1917
(From Verdun to Andernay)

Went on repose Dec. 8 (1917) to Andernay near Revigny which is near [about 20 kilometers east of] Bar-le-Duc. Was there nineteen days. The coldest weather we had in France. Zero weather --- and we had to wash our cars !!! Slept in a cold bug infested hay loft. Left for Clermont en Argonne the 27th of Dec. Went on permission to Rouen the 29th of December 1917.

(Letter from Crosby December 10th, 1917 --- Here we are "en repos" way back of the lines and out of sound of the guns. It is really bully not being at the Front --- for we have been there since the middle of last August and were getting rather tired. The section is billeted at ....., a tiny typical French village composed of two rows of squat, stone houses on either side of the road which runs down through it. A few of us are quartered up in a barn loft above a "basse-cour" full of chickens, rabbits, bovines, and a huge hog. The first night the whole bunch including the Frenchmen slept in this loft. An what a night ! ! ! I shall never forget it. We all lay fully dressed, hats and boots on, in the lousy straw in a long row with our heads up against a brick wall. The place is pretty small so there wasn't an inch to spare between anyone. A sketch from St. Louis by the name of Honig, a confirmed snorer, was going at top speed all night, others were coughing, and all of us scratching. The "cooties" abounded. I collected several families of them. It was rather frigid. A scout named Conant and I slept under a couple of blankets and a heap of straw --- needless to say cootie-infested. One fellow --- no names mentioned --- had a violent attack of "mal de mer" at 1 a.m. which added to the confusion. The only means of approach to this loft is a ladder coming up into a small opening. The great beams and rafters together with the slanting roof are covered with dusty cobwebs. The whole atmosphere of this charming locality is rustic, d... rustic. There is a vast bovine right under where we sleep which moos and groans most of the time. Of course there is the farmyard rooster which crows at four a.m. The place is littered with rabbits and chickens. The owner of this barn is one of those typical Frenchwomen. She wears a little white bonnet and is very kindly. She says she fancies "les Américains". She's a little wizened up old Jane but very nice. The other inhabitant is "hubby", aged anywhere between 20 or 80. ......... A regiment from our division is quartered here and we see them up at the little café at the end of the street, where we all sit round at long board tables sipping beer or eating rabbit. The place is packed full of the poilus and thick with smoke. We eat in camp, out "en plein air". This outdoor life is certainly ideal and is very healthy. From our left we can look over the chicken coop at a stone church with a clock tower with a bell that rings the hours and half-hours. At night, not a sound. The weather is fine --- cool and crisp with plenty of sunshine ...... .)

Note: The group left Andernay for Clermont en Argonne then from Clermont to St. Menehuld by truck or ambulance to board a train for Paris via Chalons. Samuel and Max Rose left Paris for Rouen traveling by train.

 


 

PERMISSION AT ROUEN, FRANCE

December 29, 1917 to January 8, 1918

(Note: Rouen, France is West and slightly North of Paris near the English Channel)

 

1-1. My third day of my first and only permission in six months.

Staying at Mirabeau Hotel on Rue de la Paix. Paying 12.50 francs per day for room with bath.

Wrote letter in evening, an unheard of thing in Paris. Max out having a good time. Probably with "femme".

Wonderful service here.

 

1-2. Got Ordre du Moumount for Rouen.

Dined with Mr. And Mrs Charles Hoetzel, the Galina-Signal Oil Company's representative in France. It supplies oil to French railroads. A fine couple. Treated me like a king. Have a fine apartment.

Weigh 70 kilos. 154 lbs in uniform.

Weather rather cold the last four days.

 

1-3. Moved from Mirabeau to Y.M.C.A. --- the old hotel Pavillion on Rue Exchequer. Too expensive at Mirabeau. 13 francs per day for room.

Wrote Sunny.

One month ago today I had my last trip to Haudromount. Very active.

 

1-4. Arrived in Rouen with Max to visit Mr. & Mrs. Rietenbach at Le Chalet in the Boisguillume.

Wonderful home. See post card.

Had a fine room. Foot warmers!! Pan-cakes!

Went to English Base Hospital #9 with Mrs. Rietenbach. Saw and talked with Dr. Thompson. Great to see home folks again. Saw Preach Ware, of Rocky Grove, there also.

Americans showing up English in many cases at hospital.

 

1-5. Dined with Lt. Thompson & Max. Max wore French officer's uniform. I wore Field Service (English Officer's). "Defendu" for officers to eat with privates. But no one knew us as privates.

Walked thru Rouen with Lt.

Had tea with him --- sneaked in our own biscuits!! Max left to see Rare [Ware] at hospital. Wonderful cathedrals. Wonderful.

Mr. Rietenbach arrived home (home?) American vice counsel at Rouen. Making soap on small scale. Deals in oil. Very excellent good looking gentleman.

 

1-6. Mrs. Rietenbach gave a Sunday dinner party. Max & I, Lt. Thompson, Ralph Ware, Mr Benson --- American councel at Rouen.

Very homey gathering as 'twere.

Rietenbach's live in Boisguillume, a suburb of Rouen.

 

1-7. Lunched in Rouen with Dr. Thompson and Max.

Spent afternoon with Dr. and Preach Ware at hospital.

Evening --- Went to movies with Mr. & Mrs. R. Saw Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Lore in Western play.

A month ago today went on repose to Andernay --- near Revigny. After five horrible weeks at Haudromont in Verdun section.

 

1-8. Bade farewell to host & hostess and left for Paris on L'Harve --- Paris Express.

Arrived in Paris at 2. P.M. --- a three and a half hour run. Put up at Y.M.C.A. Went to Casino de Paris featuring Gabby Delys for the third time.

Good show with good American jass [jazz] Band. Crowd goes wild when it plays.

French don't know just what to make of it but can be seen swaying --- keeping time.

 


CLERMONT EN ARGONNE

Jan. 9 to May 15, 1918

1-9. ( In Paris) Moved to Hotel Continental --- expensive place --- with only ten francs. Some cheek and nerve!

Hotel bill 15 francs. Got up nerve and borrowed 50 francs from Charlie Hoetzel. Very kind of him as Franklinites had been borrowing heavily from him.

Left Paris at noon for the front. Changed at Chalons for St Menehuld. Arrived Clermont en Argonne by ambulance 8:30 P.M. [Note: Clermont en Argonne is just a few kilometers west of Verdun]

Six Xmas packages had accumulated while on Perm'.

 

1-10. Pumped up two tires and got motor in shape for duty

Not very cold- melting.

Received U.S. uniform and outfit. Poor fit. One small chap got a 42 coat.

 

1-11. First time on duty for forty days. In a Dervin.

A warm individual abri --- but not safe. Frenchmen at poste are fine. Bring coffee in while I am still in bed.

Had a trip to de Salvange hospital in terrific snow blizzard.

Hard time finding right road. My first trip so didn't know the roads well

Went in low all the way --- a 20 kilometre drive.

1-12. No entry.

 

1-13. Wrote Sunny.

French bring wood for fire in my abri. Hot chocolate in bed. Uneventful trip to camp.

Alpine Chasseur Band plays outside our cantonement. Wonderful music. Band treated to hot pinard by our section.

Great bunch the Chasseurs. Always neat, straight, give snappy salutes. The best troops --- called Blue Devils by Bosche.

 

1-14. On fatique squad. Am a shark at peeling spuds.

French observation balloon just to the rear of the Chateau. Brought down by Bosch aviator. Balloon caught fire from special bullets. One man killed- other escaped in parachute. Pretty sight. Bosche sure is a pretty flier --- flies low so has lots of nerve.

 

1-15. A joyful loaf all day. Warm. Slept and read.

 

1-16. On duty at Futeau. A five day poste --- evacuation. Headquarters of Army Corps staff.

Pretty good village. Two or three small petiseries, a post office. For the first time in six days I washed had a shave. Good quarters. No work.

 

1-17. Quite sick all day. High fever. Caused by drinking water. Should stick to pinard. Had beef tea.

 

1-18. Feeling a little better. Went to hospital here and had my chest painted with iodine. Pills were given me but didn't take any. Slept a little this afternoon.

 

1-19. Slept quite well last night but am still under this A.M.

Evacuation call came but Max took it. Max, with his car is here too. Two cars is toutjours.

Water not fit to drink --- high fever again and terrible thirst. Thirst quenched somewhat by white wine though it makes me thirstier than ever later.

 

1-20. Beautiful spring day. Took a long walk with Max.

Later we took a joy ride in my car --- nothing else to do. Went three or four miles thru a forest. Fine, winding road.

As stated before there is no drinking water here. Sorry to say I became decidedly liquored quenching my thirst.

Spent a poor night

 

1-21. First call came this afternoon. Took 5 malades to Brizeau thru the forests 15 kilometres. Raining hard but I enjoyed it.

 

1-22. No entry

 

1-23. Relieved from this monotonous poste by a car from the same English section which relayed with us at Haudromont.

Hated leaving our pretty girls in the café but glad to return to Clermont just the same.

 

1-24. On evacuation duty at Beauchamp. Worked pretty late. Had trips to Brizeau, Campdu, Raton, Froidos, Nubecourt & Fleury --- all different on 5 separate trips.

Last trip to Fleury I stopped at Y.M.C.A. and watched a good wrestling match

Rather warm the last few days.

 

1-25. Chasseurs gave a little vaudeville just before going to trenches. Good show.

Chasseurs the Blue devils and Frances best troops. They are the neatest. Eternally spick and span. Their salutes are always snappy. Their officers are the keenest, best dressed erect ect. Officers in the French, British or German army.

Very warm with lots of sunshine.

A month ago today we came off repose by convoy from Andernay (near Revigny) to Clermount.

 

January 26, 27. No entry

 

1-28. On duty at Dervin. Rather intense artillery fire. Shells fallin rather close - too close. My car splashed with mud from a gasser.

 

1-29. No entry

 

1-30. Feeling pretty low.

Dick English is decorated by Medicine Chief with Croix de Guerre.

Big celebration after dinner. Champagne. Everyone gloriously soused but me.

 

1-31. Dick English leaves for Paris. Thinks he shall head for Italy.

Still feeling sick but not painful.

FEBRUARY 1918

2-1. Lt. Speers orders me to hospital.

Got ready and went in ambulance with George Houston. Hospital nearly full. Turned me down & sent me back to camp with medicine. Exceedingly glad as stories of life in a French hospital have reached me --- emphasizing the dullness of it all.

Feel a little better.

 

2-2. On duty at Neuvilly. A very quiet poste known as the rest poste. Nothing doing. Not even a malade.

French bring coffee to me in bed at eleven A.M.

Clear day & night. Not very cold.

2-3. Beautiful warm day

Many airplanes up and one battle. Never saw so many dives, turns, loops ect.

No artillery action

2-4. Washed car. Oiled and greased it thoroughly. Cloudy and rather cold.

 

2-5. For the first time in four weeks I enjoyed a luxurious bath. Baths hard to obtain here. Contagious hospitals have them but are defender to us.

 

2-6. Played the victrola all day. Rien chose a signaler.

 

2-7. On fatigue in morning. Fatigue consists of gathering wood in the camionette at some shot up village --- old beams, laths ect; pealing carrots, potatoes and grinding coffee; sweeping bedrooms, dinning room & halls. Getting water in huge containers in camionette. The coffee grinding job is the graft. Sit in front of fire and read while grinding. Gathering wood is hard but we get to the front on a fast joy ride.

 

2-8. Walked on top of Clermont hill. An old nunnery at one end, a double line of fine, hearty evergreen trees leaving a path of ten feet wide between --- the whole length of the hill. At the other end observation postes, machine guns for avions, telephone booth and a wide park with 6 or 7 benches on the extreme edge of the hill.

From here the villages of Boureilles and Varemes in the German hands. The trenches lying just in front of Boureilles and Neuvilly lying between trenches & Clermont. The whole line of visage in a valley.

 

(From Crosby letter of Friday, February 8, 1918. "................ We're all up here in the room to-night --- about a dozen of us crammed in together like a bunch of sardines --- ten sleep on "brancards", while Phil, the Vulture, and a scout called "Kep" have portable cots. Aren't they the swells? My soul, we have a funny bunch out here. ...........")

 

2-9. On duty at Dervin. Went on at 1 o'clock noon. Davidyan of Phily. --- DeAmi John as orderly. He is a small, dark chap. Dreamy (or dull) eyes. Not good looking. A chap with a fine heart --- a good fellow. But rather poor & poorly educated. Knows all the highbrows & their daughters of Phily by name & tries to bull us he knows them personally. I told him I only was a good business school and he immediately knew two stenographers in a bank that graduated there.

 

2-10. No work at Dervin. Just harkened unto Davies good times in the States.

2-12. Slight attach of grippe. Not bad but annoying. Around the chateau all day.

 

2-13. Feeling entirely "up & at 'em again"

 

2-14. Put another half day working on car. It is in good shape but ten months rough usage on shell torn roads & mud don't improve a car very much.

 

2-15. Have been having extraordinary weather for a month. Warm & pleasant with but little rain.

On duty at Beauchamp evacuation hospital. No shell-torn roads nor shells but long, tiresome drives. I drove steady, back & forth from one o'clock noon 'till midnight. Stopped at Y.M.C.A at Fleury & bought chocolate. --- Very tired.

 

February 16, 17, 18 No entry

 

2-19. Sick again with grippe. Worse this time. Am I starting a repetition of a little passing sickness ever week or ten days? A malady I used to have in '15 & '16. Will try to keep better after this.

 

2-20. Rather weak and miserable today. Fever (slight) and Chills.

2-21. In bed and felling pretty low. Have eaten nothing for two days. Soar (Sore) throat coming on.

 

2-22. Still in bed. Feeling a little better but still have a little fever.

 

2-23. Still sick but "up & at 'em! Afraid officials will stick me in a French hospital. Not for me! Dreary, lonesome, non-attentive things. Not all like that but around here, - yes.

On duty for two days at Neuvilly with Port[er] Battles as orderly.

 

2-24. Glad to be away from camp. A sick fellow has no chance in camp. The fellows string in one by one with different sarcastic remarks "Oh, quit chur kiddin'; your layin' low" - or --- "You need a wet nurse!"

Neuvilly a good rest poste anyway. No work at all.

 

2-25. Italians arriving in Auzeville and other near by villages. Dirty, ill kept looking bunch. Snappy officers, however.

 

2-26. Bad cold --- little cough. Rotten discouraging feeling, Morale very low.

Box from Mr. Moore. Morale "up". Playing cards, cigarettes, P.A. tobacco.

Box from Billy Mattim. Mystery!! Is it molasses candy? A good guess, I think. So long on the road in crumbled & became stale & slightly mouldy.

 

2-25. Cigarettes from Sunny. Seventeen letters in the last four days.

 

2-26. On duty at Beauchamp evacuation hospital again. This time as Weldin's orderly. Rolled for sixteen consecutive hours and some tired. Driving rain storm, - soaking wet.

MARCH 1918

 

3-1. Turned slightly colder. Tried to work on car & nearly froze my fingers putting grease in the differential.

 

3-2. Very cold. --- About 3 in. of snow. Hard time keeping fire going. Wood wet.

 

3-3. On duty at Dervin. Call to front poste #4 or Patt Doi.

#4 is only 500 yards from the Bosche front line trenches. Bosche on side of one hill --- poste on side of other hill. No man's land between. A little bridge spans second line trenches & to turn around it is necessary to pass over it. A few machine gun punctures in the side of my car!

 

3-4. Germans pulled a Coup De Main advancing to Patt Doi & taking a cook. But retired on their own account as is customary in a Coup de Main.

150 Bosche were killed. 500 were in the attack. We hauled 60 French Blesses

 

3-5. No entry.

 

3-6. Max tells me he has sent in his application for a transfer to the tanks!

 

3-7 No entry

 

3-8. For the second time I have seen two French deserters put in prison.

Rumors we will be transferred to an American division. Will apply for transfer if it turns out true.

 

3-9. Time advanced one hour. Time saving plan. Beautiful, warm day. Too warm for coats.

 

3-10. On duty at Neuvilly. Nothing ever doing here --- Rest poste. --- Warm day.

 

3-11. Clermont is bombarded by 130's --- an Austrian shell. Unknowingly ran into it while returning from a special call with Wright.

Shell lit about 30 feet from road as we mounted hill towards camp. Thru dirt over car & road.

Another shell lit next door while we were in the house looking for fellows. Wright, who was looking out the window got dust in his eyes! Shell that lit next door killed 10 horses & wounded 8.

Made record time up hill.

 

3-12. On duty at Beauchamp --- duly thankful!. Heard shells coming in Clermont.

These days it is much safer at the poste & it is strange how we are all so anxious to go on duty.

NOTE: March 12th was the last entry until April 18, 1918. A note on the back of one picture in an album states it was taken "En Permission" in Aix Les Bains March 21 thru April 1, 1918.

 

APRIL 1918

 

4-18. On duty at Dervin at 7 P.M. --- Very quiet. Hardly a gun shot.

Cook from Nice is wizard on guitar. Plays "Sound of Barrage" Drums, band, bugles. --- performs for whole orchestra

No Calls.

 

4-19. Coffee in bed. Brought in by cook. Bribe him to do this with cigarettes and American tobacco.

Up at 10:30. Lunch at 11:30. Fine lunch. Good steak and pomme frites.

A little cold but pleasant

Evening; Fine moon; very clear; no action --- not a gun. --- No call

 

4-20. First time in history of Dervin that no work was done in two full days. Absolutely didn't turn a wheel.

 

4-21. Fifteen fellows went to Fleury to play and witness a ball game with the 13th Engineers of Fleury. Poor field and unfair umpire. Score; 13th E's 9 --- 641 Ambulance 3.

 

4-22. Slept all day. --- Got up for meals only. --- Ceste tout.

 

4-23. The seventh rainy dismal, chilly day. A little sun in afternoon.

Eugene Duffie, classmate, of section 525, (Allentown) over to see Max & I. On the salient to our right near the left bank of the Muise. Looked very well.

Rec'd large Xmas box from home! Breakfast food, tobacco, socks, tooth brush & paste. Excellent box. Gave some shredded Wheat to Duffie.

 

4-24, Up at 7:15 for the first time in two months. Partook of shredded wheat, puffed rice, coffee, bread and jam. Oh Boy!

Wrote Spots Higbee wishing her happiness. Glad it is Deac she took.

Received compass from Pittsburgh --- ordered by Mother.

A dismal, rainy day but not cold.

On camp duty.

Duffie sent Rolled Oats and six Evening News --- by our Ville s-cousance car.

 

4-25. Section politics becoming serious. Brown, accused of tampering with mail (stealing Crosby's package of caramels) is put under arrest --- in line for court marshal.

Case dropped by Lt. Speers and accusations withdrawn by Crosby. Case brought before headquarters at Souilly. Lt. Speers & King got to Souilly to hush it up. Train hit car. Speers in hospital --- king only scratched.

King and French Lt. (Latrieff) push charges.

 

4-26. Sign paper stating friendliness toward Top Sgt. Brown.

Officers for court martial due to appear. Lt of 13th Engineers --- has played army politics for eleven years --- advised Brown that Latrieff has nothing to do with our men in absents of Am. Lt. King has papers stating otherwise.

Latrieff gives us hell for signing petition. He is a big bluff

Wrote Sunny.

 

4-27. No excitement this A.M. calmly awaiting action.

 

4-28. Had bacon & eggs, coffee and lait, bread and jam for breakfast.

Lobster, good steak, pomme frites, doughnuts ect for dinner

Wrote Sunny

Warmer. Cloudy but a little sunshine. Wonderful difference in peasants Sunday & week day cloths. Sunday they are all dressed up stylish, good material and well worn. Week days, dirty, ragged sabots ret.(urn).

 

4-29. Started for poste but broke my rear axle on the left. Fortunately only a quarter mile from camp.

 

4-30. Received letter from Ted Moore.

Officers here for inspections.

Worked hard on car all afternoon.

Left for Dervin --- third time in succession --- .

 

MAY 1918

 

5-1. At Devin. One trip to Salrange, Froida & Rarecourt.

Report by relief car that officers stated we had the best kept cars on Western Front. Being "mustering Officers" who have traveled all over Somme, Verdun, Champaigne --- they should know.

Very fine weather

Decided definitely to enter Tank service. Will put in my application in few days

 

5-2. Fine weather. Hardly a gun being fired. Not one arrived since I have been here.

Called by King for racing thru town. 8 kilometers speed limit. Was going only 30.

 

5-3. Changed five tires. Holes had to be made larger in rim for large valves. Hard job. Washed car in morning.

Gend'armes caught us raising cane in Café after 8:30. "Nix Compre" we told him & got off free.

Order (divisional) to Verdun Army. No more coup-de-mains 'till further notice.

 

5-4. Cleaned engine. Greased car ect. All ready for inspection.

Allowance of bread for civilians in Rarecourt per day is 100 grams or 1/5lb. One old woman cries nearly every day about it.

Civilians ordered to evacuate Rarecourt two weeks ago. Even after big drive in Somme had progresses two weeks. An attack is expected in this sector.

Wonderful summer day.

 

5-5. Took a joy ride with Shepley --- he on call --- to Anbuville. Fine day. Great weather

Wrote to Helen A

Terrible tooth ache. Turns things decidedly gloomy.

 

5-6. Up nearly all night with tooth ache. At 4 A.M. awakened with the worst headache I have ever had. A terrible pain. Damn. Both pains gone later in morning.

Shook & sunned blankets first time since Verdun.

Rainy all evening.

Will get tooth filled tomorrow by divisional dentist.

Rumor that Americans will take over all Verdun & Argonne sectors. Also we will have colored American regiment in our division.

 

5-7. Tooth ache gone. But went to the dentist anyway. Had it filled. It was abscessed & affected the whole gum.

 

5-8. Tightened "low" on car. [NOTE: Tightened low gear bands in Model 'T' transmission.]

Wrote Sunny (while) at Margaretes. An elderly lady with a husband in the war. Who cooks eggs, coffee ect. For us. A most pleasant lady.

 

May 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 No entries.

 


REPOSE AT EPENSE

May 14, 1918 to May 28, 1918

5-14. Went to the infirmary at Fleury --- the 13th Engineers' hospital. Had a bad fever --- 103.6

Four new Allentown men joined our section just before I left Rarecourt. Making our numbers 36. Hane, Hontz, Smith & Manly.

 

5-15. Feeling much better but still in bed. Wonderful warm day.

 

5-16. The section moved on repose to Epense. Feeling well. Up & walking around.

 

5-17. No entry.

 

(From Crosby letter of May 17, 1918. --- "...............There's a place to swim here. Also ample opportunity for washing. ........................."

 

5-18. Lt. Speers came for me in staff car. Section on repose in Epense.

Note: Epense is south-west of Clermont en Argonne, maybe a days drive or less

 

5-19. No entry.

 

5-20. Rumors we shall loose our division - the best we have ever been with.

 

May 21, 22. No entry.

 

5-23. Went in swimming in a very small lake between Epense & Remicourt. Took the White truck over to wash.

Was in but ten minutes when I got a headache. I came out, dressed & it disappeared.

 

(From a Crosby letter of May 23, 1918. --- "...................We go in swimming every day in a lake 3 _ kilometers away. This takes us about 2 _ hours per day. The rest of the time we loaf, except when there's work to do on our cars........................."

 

5-24. Beautiful country about Epense. Walked to Givry in Argonne. Saw old Frog friend in Copa who ran the Copa in Clermont. Just like running into old friends when we meet Frogs we have known for six or more months and haven't seen for a few months.

 

5-25. No entry.

5-26. Houston, Davidyan, Fox & myself gave concert at Foyer du Soldat. Colonel & whole staff in front row. Fairly good quartet but I started a little comedy & forgot to sing! Congratulated by Colonel on comedy at any rate.

Max & Houston put on 3 round boxing match immediately after. Good match. Both congratulated by Colonel.

 

 

 

Houston

Davidyan

Fox

SMK

 


RAMBLUZIN

May 27 1918 --- Jul 24 1918

5-27. Moved from Epense to Rambluzin and began work immediately with a new division just back from the first Somme offensive. We disliked leaving the old division --- 120th of the 2nd Army (Verdun). We got to know many of the men and liked them very much.

Our route to Rambluzin was: Epense, Remicourt, Givry in Argonne, Charmountous, Senard, Triancourt, Evres, Nubecourt, Bulainville, St Andre, Heippes & Rambluzin.

Our new division is the 17th; Regiments 68,90 & 335

News of a new Bosche drive between & on Soissons & Reims.

 

5-28. We rec'd order to move yesterday at 11:10 A.M. Had lunch in Epense. Left at 2:10. Arrived Rumbluzin at 6:30. Hot coffee by 7:10.

Went to Epense to transfer Lt. Speers --- whom we left there sick --- to Salvange. Took one hour 5 minutes to get there. Got back at 3:30. Had lunch at Margarites in Rarecourt & stopped in Fleury for cigarettes at Y.M.C.A.

Had fine weather for 2 weeks.

 

5-29. Received letter from home dated May 7. One from Jim Thorpe, May 19.

Answered Jim's letter

Bosche are reported to be in the east side of Soissons and have Reims.

Americans "pull" a small attack when Bosche are "driving", flanked them, flushed them back 3 kilometres.

The Americans will make the greatest fighters in the world if they can fight in open ground.

 

5-30. Took picture of American graves --- victims of gas.

Cemetery Of Americans

Have come to the conclusion I am on the rocky road to ruin. I can't think --- can't use my brain. In other words I am dying --- if not dead --- from the neck up. Lazyiness is slowly but surely becoming dominant. I sleep 9 or 10 hours a night. 2 to 4 hours in the afternoon. Am on my bed 2/3rds of the day. Ye Gods, how I wish we would strike an active sector. Am going to make one last effort to get out of this terrible rut. Walk, & walk; Write & write; Read editorials, good articles and stock news.

 

5-31. Went with Staff car to all front postes --- Troyon s/ Meuse, Lacroix, Poste Elizabeth, Chateau Montuairone, and Deiux where 645 --- old 33 --- is located.

Fine roads exist at the front. Especially excellent roads along the Meuse.

Church at Troyon

 

Poste Elizabeth

See French trenches & no mans land from Poste Lisbeth [Elizabeth] & can be seen. Everything very, very calm. More quiet than the Argonne!

 

JUNE 1918

 

6-1. On evacuation duty. Two 26 kilometre trips to Chateau Monthairons by way of Villers & Revigny; to Souilly; then home by way of Heippes.

Another trip to Ambly, Deiux, Ancemont then home --- a 37 kilometre drive making 109 kilometre for the day --- 3 trips.

Made 5 _ kilometers to the litre. Or 27 _ kilometers to the bidon --- a little less than a gallon. Or 17 miles, 971 feet & 3 inches on one bidon or 5 litres.

 

6-2. On fatigue squad. Pealed potatoes for French frieds.

News the Bosche pushed very close & within easy gun range of Chateau Terry. And cut communication between Bar-le-Due & Paris --- on the main (Express) line between Nancy & Paris.

News the French started the counter. The Americans playing a noticeable part.

 

6-3. Men in from postes report morale of French the lowest they have known. The French throw up their hands in despair & explain the Bosche will soon be in Paris. Our division just from the Somme report that airplanes of both sides flew very low over trenches --- sweeping trenches with machine gun bullets.

One regiment lost 3000 men or 75% of their men!!!

 

6-4. On duty at P.C. Pierre --- a fifty kilometer drive from Rambluzin in the Garoches woods. (Maybe Bois des Paroches --- Woods of Paroches near Villote).

Had a trip to Villote at 2 P.M. Returning I went "on pan". The radiator steamed and the car froze on me. Thought something extra wrong so sent for mechanic. By the time he reached me, the motor had cooled and went fine when he started it. A Frog from the poste --- with me was to move at 8 P.M. The mechanic didn't show up for 2 hours so he (the Frog) started to walk at seven P.M.

Men of 90th regiment --- Colonial regiment at Poste. Very good crowd.

 

6-5. Had call at 12:30 A.M. Two blesses --- the first in 16 days. My motor went wrong again --- My engine heated up --- was "on pan" five times to Villote on trip. Ran in low most of time & didn't arrive in Villote till 2:30 A.M.!!! With 2 blesses, one a couche!!

Called Block & arranged to take Fays car --- on duty at Villote. Ran fine made long 20 kilometre drive up hills mostly in less than one hour 45 minutes.

Called Block again at 7 P.M. He gave me Hell --- said spark plug was all that was wrong with my car (742). Damned liar!!!

Went to bed with fever after changing flat tire.

 

6-6. Feeling better but very weak. Had trip at 8:30 A.M. One couches and 2 assis. Changed cars at Villote. Got 749 --- Max's car. Two kilometers from Villote went "on pan" again with hot motor!!! Damned hard luck!!!. Twice "on pan" before reaching P.C.Pierre.

Fine weather keeping up. Many avions up everybody under cover. Eclat and "dumb" anti aircraft shells falling fast!!

Regiments changed. The 68th relieving the 90th.

Men of the 68 a good crowd. Cheerful & inclined to learn English.

 

(From Crosby letter of June 6, 1918 --- "This is my week in camp, we have one week out at the poste, then a week in. We are in Rambluzin (S.M. --- sector). ....... I sleep in the car, first floor on a stretcher, down below means work on the springs. Then on the roof is my sun-parlor where most of my time is spent. Pretty easy life at present. Excellent fodder. Supper to-night split pea soup, ham and eggs, lima beans, figs and coffee. Mighty keen. Then some ice-cold beer. We use the stream near by as a refrigerator, it's just loaded with bottles !!! .......")

 

6-7. Slept 'till ten o'clock. Nothing to do here. Too lazy to take exercise.

A trip to Villote immediately after lunch. Fortune still running poorly. Am growing thin from worry & idleness. Worrying about sending for another car if this goes "on pan" for good.

Eating fine here. Potatoes, good meat soup, confiture, coffee.

Eat in the open --- under a bunch of fine trees. French improving fast. Fine, jolly bunch of Frenchies.

 

6-8. No trip today, thank heaven.

Read and slept all day. An unknown unprecedented fear came over me when I heard 2 "arrives" about on kilometer away

Think it was caused by low state of mind --- account of routine.

Weather still fine --- took a few pictures.

 

6-9. Slept 'till eleven --- feeling better.

Had trip. A man was kicked in the head by a horse. Only 2 blesses here in 20 days !! Motor running much better

Enjoyed trip for first time

Took more pictures.

 

6-10. Didn't turn a wheel all day. Slept --- wrote home.

SMK Jr. and His Ambulance

 

6-11. Relieved by Packard at 11: A.M.

Rec'd five letters from home & one from Jo H.

Started overhauling car

Rather a hard job but labor worth the experience & knowledge gained there from.

 

6-12. Worked on car all day. Pretty tired after work.

Had setting up exercises at 6:45

Our new Lt. Roberts is sure a cuimb.

Fine weather continues. Wonderful sunsets

Stays light until 10 P.M.

 

6-13. Continued work on car. Scraped pistons, cleaned valves --- ground valves, rather.

Exercises at 6:45 and work all day sure tires me. I eat better, sleep better & feel better for it.

Rec'd letter from Proudie who is in Aero Service in England.

 

(From Crosby letter of June 13, 1918 --- "We have exercises at 6,45 a.m. My soul, in't inergetic. Hope Speers will come back soon.")

 

6-14. Getting rather tired of this seemingly endless job but still plugging.

English section that relieved us from the 120th division were all awarded Croix de Guerre. 120th got shot to pieces. Got hard work near Château Thierry.

Just our luck to miss the excitement --- and Croix-de-Guerre.

Washing the Boat

6-15. Encore! Still working. Greasy dirty & black but feeling like a king.

Rumored our division --- 17 --- will get in the big scrap soon. Hope to go with them & get action! But think we are permanently attached to the Second Army --- Verdun Army --- and will probably stay in or around Verdun for the duration --- worse luck.

 

6-16. Helped Jerry grind valves on camionette all morning.

Paid for the month of May --- Fr 190.50 at 1:49:30 sec P.M.

At five P.M. had fifteen francs left.

Beautiful sunset tonight.

 

6-17. News of the big Austrian drive on Italy reached us. Communiqué states Italians are holding them extra well. Enemy have gained but four kilometers and after three or more months preparation. Austrians --- during drive to date --- have taken but 12,500 prisoners. Italians have taken 4,500 --- very good work for the defensive.

Americans are showing wonderful fighting qualities. Reported to be in large numbers, too.

Bosche drive on occidental front seem so have ceased --- eased up at least

Rain today

 

6-18. French morale has risen forty percent on account of news and communiqués received yesterday. All are cheerful and optimistic.

But if I know French nature even a little, it will fall on news of the least mishap. The morale rises and falls so often we become quite accustomed to the changes.

The all keep on kidding themselves by saying Fini de Guerre dans deux mois and when the two months are up they encore the same sentence. It is a good system to keep up good spirits, though.

 

6-19. Raining again but a nice summer rain --- not cold nor chilly nor misty.

Slight headache --- eating too much. We receive portions for the whole section. As half the section is always on duty, the other half have to eat it all . And we do!

 

6-20. Raining a little

Received letter from Helen Anderson who is working on a farm for a month. Quite a surprise --- but pleasant.

Wrote Mother, Mr. Smiley, Sunny & H.A. Letter to be mailed in Aix --- les --- Bains by permissionaires.

 

June 21, 22, 23 No entries

 

6-24. On duty at Lacroix. Car running fine but heats a little too much.

Frenchmen here are rather old & inclined to be grouchy.

Lous --- Lt. --- A Parisian --- had a pharmacie east of St. Quentin. His place was dynamited by Bosche.

Good Looking Bunch of Senegalese

 

6-25. No excitement here whatever.

A few Colonials here. They keep Bosche ears, noses teeth ect for souvenirs. One chap has a string of teeth on his wrist.

Slept nearly all day. Fine Weather.

 

6-26. Lt. Roberts shows up. Surprises me with a handshake.

French held a Coup de Main early this A.M. Got caught in their own barrage as they entered Bosche trenches. 12 killed and more wounded.

 

6-27. Trip to Benoite Veaux with one malade. Returned to the relay at Troyon.

A most delightful place after Lacroix. Fine bunch of Frenchmen.

Rec'd ten letters. Spots, Sunny, Tig Moore, Billy Mattern, Mr. Smiley, Mother (3), and a notice from Cox & Co. Bankers that a check for 142 Fr is in Paris for me.

Trip to Souilly at 8:30. engine running fine.

Wrote home.

Post at Lacroix

 

6-28. Back to Lacroix again.

American artillery --- two batteries of 8" howitzers --- kept firing all day. Cross fired on a church and hospital! Both said to be full of ammunition. Also fired on a village cantoning Bosche soldiers. French land observers state they are excellent shots and one gun hits it objective every time. After shooting about 400 shots they were temporarily silenced by about 20 77's from the Bosche.

G.B.D. men change postes so we have a new & still better set with us

Fine weather, encore.

 

6-29. Took a long walk with Smithy last evening. Along the tow path of the canal which runs north to Verdun. Beautiful landscape all along the canal. Four Kilometres from the front and yet a person couldn't realize a war is in progress by observing the fields, woods ect --- although the villages are entirely demolished.

To Troyon again. Trip to Souilly.

 

6-30. Relieved a day early to sign payroll.

Camp all set up with Lt. Roberts new regime. Gave us red cross bands for our arms. Tells us not to wear them in camp --- will get them dirty. Oh, dear.

Gives us gas mask drill! - A Lt. Who has never seen the front before; one who doesn't know beans about masks, explains how to use them & lectures us the terrible new gas. Us --- veterans --- who have tasted of the new gas. Who have been in gas attacks since October 1917

The man is a nut.

 

JULY 1918

 

7-1. Started on my career as an artist. After washing my car I collected a few paint brushes and paint and went to it.

A very hard tiresome job. The "American Field Service" and the American and French flags (crossed) are painted over. Darn.

The Lieutenant is giving up the morning setting up exercises. Booze holds him back. He is drunk half the time.

 

7-2. Finished painting --- thank heaven. Was sure tired of it.

Lt. Takes account of all our tools in a drunken state. He leans against the fresh paint several times. Sgt Block, who says what he pleases to whom he pleases and when he pleases, says he'll give him an orderly to follow him around and hold him up.

 

7-3. Did such a good job on my car Blocky asks me to help paint the others. Foxy had finished one side of his car and I had finished the roof & interior, when the Lt. Tells us to cease painting. Gives out there is something going to happen. Great excitement! Will we go to the Somme or Chateau Thierry; shall we loose our division & stay here; is there going to be an attack on this sector; if so will it be Bosche or French???

Time will tell says the bearded loon.

 

7-4, 5, 6. Did we celebrate? Well I guess yes! [Fourth of July]

Nothing happened until noon. At dinner we had twelve invited Frenchmen with us. The "meat hounds", we call them, as they are drivers of the famous Paris autobuses, now used for hauling meat in the Verdun sector. They sleep in the same barn with us --- immediately below. The repartee that goes on at night is "Rare".

Except in Paris, this big dinner or banquet was the best I ever had in France. We had placement cards for all, too!! Pinard, white wine, champagne (one bottle for 2) followed by a couple crates of beer was the undoing of us all --- except me. I was happy but not drunk. Kaiser --- on duty at the Rambluzin hospital came up for dinner. God knows how he returned to the hospital. He was dead drunk. He took sick there and telephoned for someone to come after him. He came back on a stretcher! "All Guv Out". I, being the most sober fellow in camp, had to take his place.

Now Rambluzin H. isn't a good place to be a-tall. Seven or eight barracks --- c'est tous. One trip a week is the maximum from all precedent. Luckily, I had one trip the night of the 4th & one early (6 A.M.) the 5th. I stopped at camp for a plate & cup and found the kitchen squad still drunk, trying to wash dishes. Fox still drunk --- staggering all over the place.

All this took place after we had been warned of a German attack (large). But it has been illustrated by our section that we do better & quicker work when soused. Convoy between Behupt & Andernay for reference.

This is my third day here. Am not crazy as yet but the monotony, too much sleep ect. Is slowly getting me!

I sneaked over to camp today --- _ mile distant --- and had a good breakfast. The officers failed to notice me.

Men here have to be "en alert toujouos". Pack up every morning ect. Something expected --- most think an attack. I don't think.

 

7-7, 8. A trip to Recourt this noon

The revitaillment purchaser of the hospital is studying English with me. And tells me many incidents of French history. One concerned Napoleon and the reason the French government has the monopoly on the tobacco trade in France. Napoleon gave a ball. One woman had more beautiful jewels than the queen and he discovered her to be the wife of a tobacco magnet. He then took possession of the trade and it has ever since been in the hands of the government.

Another telling why the Jews are so rich in France --- especially Rotchchilds. At one time the Jews owned over half the land in France. Napoleon saw they were liable to prove antagonistic and issued an edict that Jews could not hold real-estate after a certain day. They had to sell all their holdings but became rich there from.

Very hot today --- about 90. Lulled around all day with coat,& shirt off and so picked up a little sunburn.

 

7-9. Smith in hospital with indigestion and perhaps appendicitis.

Max & Sproul to see me. First time in three weeks I have seen Max. He is always out when I am in & vice versa. Brought me Franklin newspapers telling of the arrival of the 112th in France. Letters from 112th published in News seem funny. Exact repetition of the letters Max & I wrote a year ago.

Rained a little this evening.

 

7-10. Took Smithy to Souilly. Rather serious.

Cooler today.

Am making good mileage for a year old, roughly used ambulance. About six kilometres to the litre. Poor gasoline, too.

Getting a terrible appetite. Can eat anything --- and lots of it. Eat a lot of fat lately. --- Am gaining a little weight.

One year ago today, Max & I landed at Bordeaux.

Been on the Somme, Marne, Verdun, Argonne & St Mihiel sectors. Been to Paris (8 times), Rouen, Aix-les-Baines on permissions.

 

7-11. Rec'd letters from Mother --- June 15th 17th. Letter from J Smiley, Billy Matter, Jim Creighton, & Edna Moore.

Rec'd letter from Cox & Eva. Reporting a cable of 142 Fr. From home.

 

7-12. Relieved by Drew. Quite a relief --- to get away.

Washed car, cleaned engine, painted on new numerals and got prepared for inspection generally.

Like returning home after a bored visit out of town. Great to be with the fellows again, get good food; play victrola ect.

 

7-13. Raining a little. Clothing, equipment and car inspections.

Had all my government stuff on bed but the Lt. Wished to see what I had in my duffle sack. Have more personnel stuff than government. Was told to send my coat in.

Nix

My back spring was a little dirty! The last two springs broken in the section were caused by oiling them --- yet I was told to oil mine.

 

7-14. The French 4th. They held a field meet. Our fellow took in the sport for fun but refused all prizes. We won everything but the horse race. Honig --- our rider --- was soused and could hardly hold to the nag.

Emille --- our good Christen --- fell six feet into a brook --- from results of a rough & tumble. Not hurt but good & wet. He's a large man --- 6 ft. 1 in. About 225 lbs. Rather comical and he took it like a regular sport.

 

7-15. On Kitchen duty.

Received special order of pictures from Kodak taken in Aix.

 

July 16. No entry.

 

7-17. Rec'd letter from home dated June 12th. Box containing Gibson mandolin, tobacco, books, paper and candy shipped from Franklin June 13th thru American express.

Worked on camion and answered Ted Moore's letter.

 

7-18. Worked on Camion. Wrote to Mother.

Our gloriously brilliant Lt. Ran us thru the village in a gas mask drill. Changed gas masks 5 times. He is voted the biggest ass in the U.S. Army. All the Petit Gus to Tuses followed along. "And 30 helmets bit the dust".

We all pray for the return of our good old Lt. Speers.

To Date:

Sitting up exercises, gas mask drill to veterans, drill, personnel inspections, equipment inspection, full dress at the front, red cross bands to be worn at front only & "Take those smiles off your faces"

 

7-19. Two cars being sent to a new poste lost their Red Paper so Shepley & I took their place. Thru our luggage together in ten minutes. Belle Vallee our first stop but it was not the right place. Then to Village Negre --- a lonely place in the woods opposite P.C Pierre --- south.

Had a terrible time getting something to eat. Our regiment had not arrived so we had to beg from another.

Two cars from 13 (631) with F. Service drivers came out to occupy same poste. Thought we would have a circus.

Telephone call. We are at wrong place. Shepley goes to Villote! & I go back to the terrible P.C. Pierre.

 

7-20. Hooray! My car made all the hills without getting too hot.

The same regiment --- 68 --- at P.C. Pierre. So am with a good bunch! Good to see the old boys again. Still as calm as ever here.

 

7-21. A 20 kilometre evacuation to Rambluzin.

A good trip made in an hour & a half.

Stopped at Rambluzin for essence. Office selling Hotel McAlpin chocolate creams! Fine!

 

7-22. News that the division will move tomorrow for the big offensive.

Rumored we shall go with them. Hope so, at least as we are all tired of this inaction.

Another trip to Rambluzin.

Division going around Chateau Thierry.

 

7-23. Division will not leave 'till tomorrow night. Will be on the road --- railroad --- for 48 or more hours

Relief infantry coming in now.


EN ROUTE TO VIERZY

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