July 27, 1917,
Regular army life, - reveille, mess, drills and hikes. Getting
very cold up here.
May 7, to 17, 1918
Here we were quartered in English barracks. Received
the Tommy's rations and believe me they are some light. We
had light breakfast, not much for dinner, and for TEA - which we call supper - a slice of
bread, a little butter, and a cup of tea. Only hope we
get a little more to eat tomorrow. Here we turned in
our surplus equipment, took a good steam bath, and put on a change of underwear.
The way they build and lay out their house is very queer. They put a square place for a large manure pile in the center and then build a
large building all around it. One part is the house,
generally three or four rooms, and usually right next to the kitchen is the cow stable, and on
farther is a place for the other animals and crops. The
front door never opens toward the road, but always toward the manure pile.
No sanitation at all. They have fine horses for
work horses and good cows. Everyone works on the farm.
The women do most all the work now as all the men are away fighting.
This being about their harvest time is the busiest time of the year.
There is scarely no corn at all raised, but mostly all wheat, sugar beets, and cow beets.
Here we were quartered in a barn and all got full of chicken lice. The boys say that even the Vin Blanc is rotten, and their language seems worse yet.
Don’t believe they understand it themselves. A few days after we landed here we had our first experience of being in a bombing
raid. The large bombs make a terrible noise and we all
made a line for the nearest cave. Jerry was bombing
Etaples and nearby town. At Etaples there was a big
railroad bridge they were trying to destroy. This being
on the main line and the only direct route from the South to Paris.
they almost got the bridge, tore a small part of the one corner off of it.
There was also a large English hospital here and in one of the raids they made a direct hit
and killed a number of nurses and patients.
Cleaned up our clothing
and took a bath.
signed the pay roll the first time in France.
Today is some big day, and everyone is happy, as we turned in our mules to 58th M.G. Bn., and
drew eighteen Fords and six Dodge cars. Also drew two
months pay in Francs. everybody had been broke long
before this, and the boys had the town dry long before night as there was not a very large stock on
July 4, 1918
Got orders to take
up position behind Infantry as their support. Dug five
machine gun emplacements today, some tired when night came, but had to work on until 4 A.M. before
the last one was completed. Our duty here was to hold
the Boche in case of a counter attack, which we were expecting, as the Infantry was scattered and it
took some time before they could get together again. They
never came back at us. This is my first day under shell
fire, and it is quite a lively place here. Everyone in
the Company came out all O.K., with the exception of my gunner Wolfe who received a small wound in
his face, caused by a piece of bursting shell. By this
time the fighting units were torn up very badly, and we got orders to retire and reorganize the
companies again, and take a little rest.
July 24, 1918
Received orders to move up to the front. Were
here held in reserve until July 27. We got orders to
advance in support of the French and American Infantry. We
unloaded the guns and ammunition from the trucks and started the advance through wheat fields with a
woods for cover, crawling most of the time. We got to
one place where we could see quite a large part of the sector we were going to take up, and it was
certainly some scene to look upon. As far as the eye
could see there were men everywhere. The Olive Drab
mixed in among the Blue made quite a picture for one to look at.
All were advancing in a thin line skirmish formation - Tanks, Infantry, Machine Gunners,
Calvary, Light Artillery, and lots of airplane, all moving forward.
It was noon by now, and we came to a place where we had to cross the road.
Here we learned that the French Calvary could not find the Germans.
The Major then sent for the transports to come up and in a short time we were going after the
Boches in motor trucks. We went through Bomme to
Bomme Forrest, about 50 kilometers, arriving about 3 P.M. Here
we found plenty of dead Germans, horses, ammunition, equipment, and cannons that had been captured
all strewn over the fields. German helmets by the
hundreds lay around everywhere lost by them in their hurried retreat.
All the towns around here were in ruins, nothing but the walls standing, everything was
battered to the ground and destroyed. We dug trenches
near the edge of the woods for protection against artillery fire, and about 5 P.M. it commenced to
rain, and Jerry opened his artillery on us and the French who were stationed nearby.
A number of the French cannon and quite a few men were put out of commission, but they left
us off easy for once. No casualties in Company.
Eat a little corn-bill and hard tack. This was
great help as we had nothing to eat or drink since early morning.
We then prepared for a little nap in the muddy trenches. These are one man trenches, which we dug before dark.
We are now able to sleep under heavy shell fire. Firing
kept up all night.
July 28, 1918
At 1 A.M. we were awakened and told to eat breakfast and draw iron rations.
At 2 A.M. were all lined up and told we were to advance with the 152nd French Infantry as
We then started our advance over the unknown land beyond.
The enemy by now had opened up all their artillery and we were under heavy shelling all the
time. There was lot of gas shells mixed with the high
explosives and it made it very hard to keep together in the dark with a gas mask on, but we were
lucky until day break when we lost a few men. 4:30 A.M.
I think every Boche machine gunner and sniper on the enemy lines must of spotted us. There were bushels of lead flying around that small portion of the world, but we
must have been a lucky bunch or the Dutchman very poor marksmen, as we all again came through all
O.K. I had quite a few close ones here as shells were
falling all around us and one put a hole in an ammunition box that I was carrying.
We finally entered a forest in advance of Chateau Thierry and Meaux Crossroads.
Here we dug in, and believe me the boys all fought for a shovel as the shells were falling
thick and fast and that will make any man want to dig in, and we all knew it from some past
July 29, 1918
1 A.M. - Received what we thought a very strange order which read, “10th Machine Gun
Battalion relieved without relief.” We hiked back to
our cars through the dark, mud and rain, all very tired and worn out from being under strenuous
shell fire and gas. We got out of trucks, ate breakfast
and then sailed back through Bomme, Brumetz, and up over a big hill to the small village of Vially.
On our arrival here we policed up the whole place before it was fit to be called a billet, as
the Boches had just left a short time back and everything was in very bad condition.
We settled down, cleaned up our equipment, and had a little rest.
Here we signed the pay roll and mustered again.
August 3, 1918
Moved to Poin Park in a dense forest. Jerry was
not out of range this time for he and the rain soon made it miserable for us.
We sent over lots of high explosives and plenty of gas.
There is a large ammunition dump here and lots of supplies left by the Germans when making
their hurried retreat. Plenty of dead Dutchmen too
laying around here.
August 4, 1918
Moved again and Jerry was not satisfied with just shelling us so he sent over a few bombing
planes and bombed our transports while on the move. It
was inky dark and he had bad aim, but some very close ones as it just rained shrapnel all around,
but everything came out O.K. and luck was with us again. It
has rained so hard and long that the roads are like sponges, and are almost un-navigable for the
heavy trucks, but our Old Henry Fords still could make it. By hard work pushing and pulling first one car and then another we finally landed
in Cherry Chateau all O.K. 2 P.M. August 5.
August 5, 1918
Jerry sighted our position even before we got our cars parked, and sent us a barrage of high
explosives for a starter. Some lively front.
There was plenty of Jerry planes on the alert and he made good use of his heavy artillery
whenever the opportunity came. He would put over a
barrage at intervals of about every half hour lasting from 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
Lots of gas. Had few casualties here from gas.
August 6, 1918
Went into action and put over a 45 minute barrage, shooting about 20,000 to 40,000 rounds
into the Dutch. We were preparing for a counter attack,
and also saved the 39 Infantry from destruction. Slaughtered
plenty of Dutchmen and lost more men ourselves, also put one of our guns out of action.
artillery fire very heavy on this front. Wounded
one man in my squad - Moten - and had a number of close ones myself. Lt. Swank, Sgt. Evans, Pvts. Kovnat and Kochowski were gassed.
We then received relief and went back to Cherry and spent the night.
August 7, 1918
August 7, 1918
Went in on a different sector this time and worse than anything we had ever been in.
Before we got up Jerry put down a searching barrage, and the last shell hit in the top of a
big tree killing Potts, Gray, Batiman, Laughlin, and wounding Timmer, Dleary, Schmidt, Moats and
myself. Corporal Fodnes was shell shocked.
I then applied first aid myself and walked a mile to the first aid station.
It was very painful walk as I was wounded in the left leg.
Got an ambulance in a short while and then went to the nearest dressing station where I
stayed for a few hours.
Here the Red Cross workers gave us hot chocolate and cakes, which was quite a treat.
This helped wonderfully to make us feel better, as we were all very hungry.
We were then loaded in an ambulance and taken to a Field Hospital farther to the rear.
Here we were given a lot of papers to sign and asked a few dozen questions, and then give
each of us a new number. We stayed here a few hours and
then had another long ride to an Evacuation hospital. Arrived here 12:30 A.M., August 8, after an all night ride.
Was wounded about 6 P.M. and operated on this morning at 3:30 A.M.
After I had the piece of shell taken out was able to walk around a little, but when I woke up
next morning there was so much pain I could scarcely move. Was
taken from here to another Base Hospital. They
certainly do have some system here as there is a steady stream of men going to and from the
Operating Room all the time. There is always a patient
under X-ray, one on the table taking ether and half dozen or more being operated on.
No stop or wait at all when there is a big battle on. Sometimes
some have to wait a day or more before their turn comes.
Stayed in bed for over a week and then walked on crutches for awhile.
Stayed here in De Joan for about a month and then went to Base Hospital 21, Bordenux.
Stayed here from September 1 to October 7.
October 7, 1918
Left Bordeaux and went as far as Tours. Stayed
here all night and left next morning.
October 10, 1918
Arrived at La Mana and stayed in the Casualty Camp for a few weeks.
November 11, 1918
The day of all days. News reached here shortly
after 11 o’clock that the armistice had been signed and that fighting had ceased on the lines.
The French people and everybody is just going wild. Lights
in the towns for the first time for about four years.
November 30, 1918
Sent to another Casualty Camp near Champs, and remained here for a few weeks.
Moved from here to Nois. Stayed here a few weeks
and then was sent to Pom Pome. Was here a few weeks and
was then sent to Sermaize where we stayed until the first of January.
Arrived back with the Company, which was now in Germany with the Army of Occupation stationed
at the town of Bad Bertrick, January 6. Certainly was
glad to get back again, as I had been away just five months to the day.
January 16, 1919
Moved from bad Bertrick to Honthien just a few kilometers south.
February 8, 1919
Turned in Hotchkiss machine guns and drew Browning machine guns.