Please note the following:|
1. This diary written in the form of an informal letter home, not as a document intended for publication. This version preserves all the original spellings, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar of the original.
2. A few footnotes/hyperlinks have been added, to provide additional context, these are shown in double-square brackets, for example [] is the first footnote.
Kuhne Lager, []
December 9th, 1918.
Dear Mother and all:-
The following story will acquaint you with what I have been doing, where I have been, and in general, what constitutes a soldiers life Over Here, every thing contained herein is absolutely true, for it is taken from a Dairy I have kept since my departure from Camps Meade Md., on July 18, 1918.
Our last night at Camp Meade (July 5-6) was a noisy restless occasion for the boys of the 314 Regt. . Bed sacks were emptied the afternoon before our departure and sleeping on an iron cot was very unpleasant about 4 AM Saturday morning a loud noise followed by cheering was audible on the concrete road in the rear of our barracks. It was the 313th going to Admiral to board the train for a port of embatkation and every individual was happy, the noise aroused our Regiment and every body was wide awake two hours before revile. All were in state of excitement a lax oversea examination was a general topic of the boys until the command to fall in for the moving out, was given at 3:30 P.M.-- Fifteen minutes later we were marching down the road to Disney RR Yards [], it was a happy jolly singing line of uncle Sam's Youngsters who know the folks would keep the Home Fires Burning until they returned with the laurels of a victorious army, very few civilians witnessed the demonstration.
We boarded a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad train at Disney Yards and at 5:29 P.M. we bid farewell to Camps Meade, my training Camp for the first eight weeks, of Military career. Life at Camp Mead was considered Hell when compared with civilian life, abut after a month's Stay Over Here my opinion changed for the best. Camp Meade life was heaven in the eyes of a soldier's in France. From Disney to Falls of the Schuykill via Baltimore, Willington, Chester, and Philadelphia, all along the line people greeted and cheered us, Factory whistles blew and church bells echoed as we passed by our journey to the port of embarkation, quite a large audience was noticeable at 60th St. Station, but regret to say it was too dark to distinguish you or any of my numerous friends of the Neighborhood.
At 3:10 A.M. we arrived at Jersey City and layed over in the railroad yard until 8:00 A.M. then we boarded a double decker ferry boat and sailed up the Hudson river to Hoboken. After marching along the wharves, dodging packing boxes and more troops [out?] of other camps, for about half an hour we finally located ourselves on a huge Hamburg-American line pier. Here the Red Cross Women were active, distributing Over Seas Post Cards, Hot Coffee and Home made buns, the pier was enclosed and all the outside world was ignorant of what was taking place indoors soon we were moving again single file, and endless array of O.D. [] Uniforms carrying 70 Lbs. packs upon their backs, up a staircase and across an areaway then through an open door and up a long gang plank. Looking to our left and right we could see neither the bow nor stern of the vessel we were boarding only the huge side extending a hundred feet above the water line was visible to my surprise, it was the Livathian [], the largest and speediest transport afloat. It formally was a German transport Atlantic Liner, but was interned at N. Y. when Germany entered the World War. The United States converted it into a troop Transport and each trip to Europe added about eighteen thousand men to the American Expeditionary Forces. This ship had eight decks devoted to passenger service and many more below the water line were used for baggage, freight, supplies, etc., forty two boilers were used to generate the power for operating the propellers and twelve hundred men constituted a crew of the world's greatest ship. The interior has a wonderful appearance and may be compared to the finest and most expensive hotel in America, a beautiful dining hall, hospital and numerous lounging corners are found on the upper decks, while below is a spacious auditorium seating capacity of about a thousand used as a moving picture parlor, there was also a large up to date swimming pool aboard the vessel, two meals were served daily on account of the vast number of troops to be fed it took four hours to feed the eighteen thousand men. There were four meal lines and twelve stations at a time all meals were eaten in the auditorium and nothing could be taken to the bunks, it was good food and plenty could be had, -- fruit, pie and ice cream was served as a dessert the serving of mass was certainly a wonderful site to witness.
For four days provisions, supplies, freight, coal, ammunition and war material were loaded aboard the ship by the crew and troops, finally at 6:24 P. M. on July 8th, the mooring were released and four tugs slowly pulled the Leviathian from the pier to mid stream in the Hudson River as we moved down the stream passing the Statue of Liberty the many whistles and sirens were tooting and the civilian population along the wharves on the ferrys and in the many sky scrappers were waving and shouting a merry farewell. The 314th band was playing the familiar camp songs and everybody was happy, but the thrill of leaving the lived ones behind was ever present.
Soon we were on the deep blue sea out of sight of land, and although the ocean keep getting rougher the vebration of the vessel could not to noticed. Our first night at sea was very quite, the following day we were permitted to visit B Deck. We surmised to cast our eyes upon the great divide and picture to ourselves how useless it would to to go A.W.O.L. (meaning absent without leave) and attempt to walk back water, water, and more water was visible, all day but finally towards evening a three mast schooner was sighted on the Horizon, it made the boys hearts ache, for it was homeward bound.
For three days afterward nothing was sighted, on the fifth day at sea three steamers and two whales made their appearance, and on the sixth day we entered the War Zone and were met by five submarine chasers which conveyed us to the coast of France. That night we were orders to sleep with all clothing on in case of attack, but during the entire journey not an enemy submarine was encountered as a precaution and preserve to preserve order and abandon ship drill was enacted each day. Life preservers were always worn except when retiring at nights and then they were always within reach. In rehearsing the abandon ship drill no one was permitted to utter a work silence reigned and strict discipline prevailed when the bugle gave the alarm, the troops marked in a quite orderly manner and assembled on the upper decks, exactly thirteen minutes were consumed in emptying the boat of its eighteen thousand boys in Olive Drab.
Although a Zig Zag course was pursued in crossing the Atlantic we anchored in the Harbor of Brest just six and a half days after leaving Hoboken, we cast anchor about noon on July 15th, immediately the unloading of troops and cargo began, and part of my company was gifted with laborious task of handling the enormous cargo and transferring into lighters.
Looking through one of the port holes could be seen the beautiful picturesque country and the old historic City of Brest, situated at the base of several high hills. The ruins of an ancient Roman castle were visible it was built in the eleventh or twelfth century and even during Napoleans reign it was used for prisoners of war.
A Ration detail consisting of twelve men from out company was selected to go ashore and secure rations for the entire Regiment, these were secured at an old fort which was then being used for a ration dump and base hospital, in this hospital could be found men who were gased and sent back from the front and waiting their turn to go back to the Dear old U. S. A. We left the Levaithian on Monday Night with several sandwiches, a piece of cake and a few apples, not mentioning our heavy packs and all equipment at 11:20 P.M. we set our feet on French Tera Ferma. It was drizzling rain and the night was very dark, about 2:30 P.M., the Lieutenant in charge informed us of an open air resting place, our home for a couple days, it was on the summit of one of the hills surrounding Brest. I have never been able to find out why they called such a place a rest Camp for the night we hit this so called rest camp the rain was pouring down and we were ordered to pitch our tents and as we were about to do this the captain gave us orders to leave them rolled as we were going to move the following day, so the poor old O. D. had to lay out in the rain all that night without anything for a cover, the following morning we had orders to deliver rations and in order to do this we had to walk back about four miles and draw them at the commisiary, having no horses it was up to supply Company to carry everything that was eaten all the time we layed in this rest camp. After we had a bacon breakfast the order came for us to move over in the adjoining field and pitch our future homes, this we did with pleasure as we were all very tired and wanted to fet a few hours rest, but rest was not known in this camp, we layed here for a few days and finally the order came for us to go and draw reserve rations, this we done then after making two trips to the commisiary, after this was done another order came for us to roll light packs and get ready for a parade in Brest. It was about five O Clock when we were back from this parade, and about 2:15 the following morning the various companies were aroused, the order was circulated to roll packs and move out immediately, it was still raining and the earth was very muddy, but packs had to be rolled so imagine the condition of our equipment and clothes from such inclement weather. The companies paraded through Brest once more to the railroad station, where empty cattle and box cars were awaiting the troops each car was about 8x20 and held forty men, too crowded for comfort.
At 8 o clock Friday morning July 19th, we left Brest for a wonderful box car ride, we knew not where we were going, in fact it made no difference for most of the boys were feeling blue and uncomfortable. Well our train ride took us through a beautiful cultivated section of France and many cities and towns, most important among them being, Reemes, Laval, Orleans, Tours, Dijon, and Avalon.
All told we road for three days and nights and such an unpleasant journey will never be forgotten at night half of the men in each car would sleep on the floor in a cramped position until midnight and then alternate with those standing, food was scarce, but all managed to survive on what little we had, bread and water was our chief meal.
Finally at 1:45 A.M. July 22nd, our train arrived at Laigns, a small city probably fifty miles in an easterly direction from Dijon, here we detrained and stayed for the night in a large open field, the battalion was awakened at 5:30 A.M. had a small protion of bacon, bread and coffee and moved out July 22nd, for a fifteen mile hike to a village of Puits. At Laigns I was again assigned to the ration detail and that Night I was oblidged to sleep in a barn.
Tuesday July 23rd, I joined the battalion at Puits being billeted in an ancient Kings mansion fifteen hundred years old., it was a wonderful building in its day but was almost in ruins when we arrived, we were quartered in Puits for four days. Here the Supply Co., was divided into three different Battalions and I was assigned to the second, my work being in charge of all supplies that were issued to this Battalion. On Friday July 26th, everything was packed for another move, again supplies were scarce and everybody was making a house to house canvass for something to eat, it was impossible to purchase bread in a bakery without bread ticket, so they offered the civilians a very high price for what little they possessed. I know of an instance where ten francs almost two dollars was paid for a half loaf of bread. That night I felt very tired so I was oblidged to sleep in the barn once more and at 4:30 A. M. was awakened as auto trucks had come to move the battalion away. We left Puits at 5:45 Saturday morning passing through Chatillon, Champlits and several other French towns and arrived in Freetts at 5:30 P. M., it was a ride of about twenty five miles. Sunday meal shurley was a tasty one as it was out first meal since we left the Levaithian.
We were Billoted in Freetts from July 28th, until September 27th, here the company drilled six days a week and eight hours to the day, they also built a Gernade and Baynett, course, had several stiff hikes and a weekly regimental problem over the surrounding mountainious Vicinity, while my duties were going over to the adjoining town called Adjolear for rations and after coming from this I would run the Canteen which I enjoyed very much, as it was doing my bit in helping the boys get their candy. There was three of us that stayed in the Canteen and it was a very pleasant place situated on a hill about the center of the town and back of a Church, the times used to be royal in this place as we could sleep until eight or nine o.clock in the morning and then go out to the different companys and see where we could get the best breakfast which would most consist of steak or off omlets in the evenings after the Canteen was closed we would have friends call on us and then it would be a good talk about home and what we would be doing if we were there.
Fretts was one place that we all hatted to leave as it was a very pleasant place, all the people would treat you fine and try to make you welcome in every respect, and when they would call on me at the canteen it would be very hard to refuse them anything as they would always act as if it was the first they have ever seen of the like and I guess it was in a good many respects. I use to go out quite a few times and call upon the officers mess where I could always get a good meal one that would make you think of home, this was the only place that I had a chance to eat pie, while on this side the great divide, and this more than anything else would take me to the officers mess.
Labor day was not a holiday in Fretts, a three hour program was the drill schedule in the forenoon and in the afternoon we had a field inspection of equipment and clothing, by the Colonel at 4:30 we had a battalion inspection by Major Caldwell. []
During our stay at Frettes we became great friends of the population, too great in fact for they politely helped themselves to our tobacco, ciragettes, or what they could find.
On Sunday morning, September 8th, we left Frettes, hiking through Genevriers Pierrifaite, to Laferte a distance of about sixteen miles. At LaFerte we again boarded the train of box and cattle cars, the train pulled out about 8:20 that evening. It was an overnight trip for we arrived at Musey at 7:30 A. M. Monday September 9th, again we were due for a hike with our heavy packs, it was a two hour hike to the town of Fains, and occasionly down pour greeted us adding a few extra pounds to our load. Fains is a town only four Kilometers from Bar-le-due which before the was known for its cheese.
During our five day stay in Fains it rained continually and the mud was several inches deeps, all surplus personal equipment including comfort kits, all knitted articles, etc., was taken from us and salvaged.
On Friday the 13th, we left Fains in auto trucks for the notorious no mans land, reckless japnese with black teeth were driving the machines and it being a dark night there were several collisions and ditched trucks. Our ride took us through Bar-le-due and numerious other places on the Verdun sector. At 4 A. M. the 14t, we arrived at Recicourt, a battle scared villiage about three miles from the front lines, as we hiked through Recicourt the ruins of the destroyed houses were plainly visible in the bright starlight. After a two hour hike up and down the steel hills and through deep mud we finally arrived at Camp Brecourt, situated in a vast woods, here we bunked in wooden barracks, inhabited by rats and cooties in large numbers, I for one was very lucky and did not get any of these nice little insects.
After leaving Fains all our hiking and movements were executed after night so as to keep the Huns ignorant of what was going on behind the lines. Sunday was a day of rest, but at 7:26 that evening we were again on our way with full packs as it was rumored that the Germans were going to Bombard the camp we were in, we hiked about five miles through the villages of Brecourt and Recicourt and at 10:35 we arrived at camp Recicourt, sure enough that night the Germans bombed the aforesaid place.
At Camp Recicourt we were quarted in Shrapnel dug outs and it was a life of ease for five days. During the day we would rest and at 2:00 o clock we would start out for rations these were obtained at Recicourt a place that seemed to be a target of the Germans and we always hated to go to this place as it was a very unpleasant trip and always took the whole night to make the trip and deliver the rations to the companies. In the day time the supply Co., was supposed to sleep especially the ones that was out the night before, but it was very seldom that we took the rest as the French Marines would occasionly take a very large Gun past our camp. Such weapons signified that there was great prepartions being made by the Yanks for a big drive and that the 79th, would see real action in the near future for the first time.
Immediately after supper on Friday evening September 20th, we received orders to roll packs and be ready to move out at 7:30, everybody was ready on time so accordinly we marked along the sacred road for three miles closer to the front to Camp Bretagne in the Hesse forest, here we camouflaged our wagons and at day break we pitched tents, the German artillery bombarded Dorbasle a Railroad Centre, that night and there shells could be heard overhead and every now and then we would get a gas signal, which put an awful lot of excitement into us as we were not use to anything like this, but realized that the time was coming when we would have to put that good old gas mask on in five seconds or be gassed, it was in this woods that we seen our first tanks and there was about a hundred French tanks going a past us on on their way to the front, they drew quite a bit of attention by all of us.
On September 25, about 8:20 our regiment departed for the front line trenches, their first taste of actual warfare, this was a very hard trip for us to make as we knew some one was going to be missing when we came from the front. About 9:00 our supply train moved out towards Donbasle and arrived in a woods behind the lines at 11:25 P. M. five minutes late one of the greatest and most effective barrage by the allied artillery since the beginning of war was fired around us on a sixty mile front could be seen the flares of discharge of guns of all calibre and the continue rear was deafing. Our artillery was active all night, towards noon of the following day a lull was noticeable for the huns had retreated and our guns were almost out of range. During the barrage the doughboys Infantry went over the top, they met resistance composed of snipers and rear guards, machine gunners, but not enough to retreat their progress, the boys were out to capture their objective and were abnormally enthused with determination and not excited conglomeration of huns had power enough to halt them.
At noon September 26th, the wagon train left the woods near Donbasle to forward supplies and food to the regiment, we passed through Recicourt Woods, Hesse Woods, and the destroyed village of Nantilious traveling was very slow due to congested traffic and bad roads, that night we slept in an open field or wagon, wherever we could crawl in, the battle field of yesterday midway between Nantilious and Malancourt, the following morning the 27th, we moved out at 9:20, again the roads were poor, German shell fire was the cause, but thanks to the engineers they were always on the job repairing the shell holes occasionally, a wagon would be ditched or a horse would die in the harness from too much exhausting, vainly attempting to pull a vehicle stuck in the mud. Late that afternoon we passed through Malencourt and about 7:45 we arrived at the woods just outsider of Montfaucon, here we spent an exciting night, we made our beds in the wagons, under the wagons and rolling kitchens, all was well until midnight, then Jerry sent over a few high explosives and shrapnel, he had the range and dropped shells closeby. One shall made a direct hit upon a rolling kitchen rendering it useless, and well the censor will not permit to tell about casualties, that night a driver and I slept in a wagon together and Jerry was dropping the G. I. Cans [] very close, in fact so close that we decided it was just as safe in the wagon as it would be to get out and try to hunt another place.
To our surprise Saturday morning we discovered that the wagon train was closer to the Huns front lines that the Companies were, before noon we witnessed two air battles the German machines being brought to the earth. About 7 P. M. the train left the woods for probably a mile to the rear, it was raining and soft deep mud covered the road. We arrived at an open field also very muddy and while looking for an empty wagon or truck to lay my head for the night I slipped in a hole and was covered with water to my waist.
Sunday, September 29th, being a clear day I decided to take a shave, we had a scanty supply of rations and no water to drink only the stagrant water out of shell holes. It was a busy day for the German artillery as they Again shelled the woods where the rolling kitchens was distroyed about midnight Friday, then by increasing their range ten hundred yards they four shells on a field hospital, killing about two score of wounded men, it surely was a very pitiful site to see the seriously wounded attempting to make a safe get away due to one of famed narrow minded German atrocities committed throughout the war again at darkness, we moved to a valley just out side of Malencourt still the huns continued to shell us but without damage.
On Monday we went out over the hill and seen Company G men burying four dead men, it was like burying my own relatives as they were chums in this war, late in the afternoon we received word that our regiment was relieved, so once more the wagon train was going through mud to the demolished villiage of Nantilious, very few stone walls remained standing in the villiage but still German shells were coming over, they knew of the traffic congestion and were aiming for the roads. At midnight we met the victorious troops and fed them a hot meal of hell hot stew they enjoyed it immensely for it was their first cooked meal in five days.
After breakfast the next morning the troops and train departed from Nantilious and hiked all day to woods near Camp Bretagne, here they pitched tents and retired early for everybody was feeling very tired and were burdened with sore feet although they were hungry we only received two meals daily as it was a very hard to receive the rations so close to the front.
The troops began hiking again on Thursday evening about 9:30 when we left the woods passing through Dombaale, Ancramont and several other villiages, arriving at Camp Toubibs sixteen miles away at 5:00 o clock Friday morning, we were allowed enough time to drink a cup of coffee and eat a small portion of canned willie [], then we left Camp Toubibs for a day.s hiking our course was VIA Senencourt Savilly and Recourt with nothing to eat all day and having blistered feet we pitched tents in a grave yard in Recourt at 11:50 that night.
Continuing our hike on Saturday we left Recourt at 8:00 o clock it was similar all day hike as the previous day, we passed through Benoite, Vaux Courcurs, and Lahaynoux arriving in Haupt at 7:35 P. M. I was still pained with blistered feet and very hungry having a loaf of bread and a can of jam to eat all during the three days hike, here we billeted in old barracks and old stone houses. On Sunday I was fortunate enough to take a hot bath, my first since September 7th, and in general I passed the day in cleaning my self and drawing rations. Thursday night we again hiked by the moon light from Haupt at 11:45
Again with full packs early the next morning. We arrived in a woods outside of Manocourt, here we pitched tents and rested until Saturday evening. October 12dth, when we again took our heavy packs and started to hike passing through the villiages of Manocourt, Beuguemont and arrived in Tally were were billeted in Houses which had open fire places this was the first place that we had been able to get near a fire since we left Fains, and it was a real trat to sit in front of the open fire place in the evening and toast bread and tell stories and how we use to do the people when we were back home. We would often catch ourselves sitting there and dreaming about home, our sweethearts and all our dear friends. During our stay in Tilly, we would have to go over to a small town called Anblie to draw rations, this would take about two hours and then our day's work was done, and it would be get a loaf of bread and a can of jam, so as to have our regular evening feast, while we were in Tilly the Battalion had a quick call to the front, this front was called the St. Mahiehl, but very much to our surprise we were relieved the next day, and the boys were able to come back to Tilly, for another short stay.
On Thursday October 24th, we again packed everything for another move, we left Tilly at 5:26 that evening hiking with full packs through Villiers, Somedoui and several other small villiages at midnight we arrived in the Valley about a mile from Somedieu, here we were quartered in Wooden Barracks in a large pine woods, we were situated in a beautiful mountainous section of the western front.
Sunday October 27th, was a warm sunny autumn day, excellent for vacating at 9:25 in the evening we began another hike passing through the villiage of Somedieue, Dieue, Dugny, Landrecourt and arriving at Lampire at 4:05 A. M. October 28th, we Billeted in Lampire for only twelve hours or from Dawn to Darkness we moved out at 5:45 Monday October 28th, afternoon for another seven hour hike. At 12:55 A. M. we arrived in a woods located between Frommerville and Germenville, several Hugh Dugouts accommodating five hundred men in each were here. In the Afternoon October 29th, I visited Fort De. Chana [] one of the fortifications of Verdun, it was on a high hill overlooking the valley below, German long range guns were dropping shells in the city at the time, the fort was surrounded by heavy bobbed wire entanglement, a forty feet stone wall and thirty five iron picket fence.
At 5 o clock that afternoon October 29th, we left the Hugh Dugouts for another all night hike passing through the villiages of Frommerville, Marre Drillancourt, Forges and Bethincourt, we arrived in a shell torn woods at 4:95 October 30th, the woods were taken from the Germans by the Americans about October 5th and were the scene of much blood shed. The French heavy artillery was located in these woods and fired continually from midnight to 6:00 on Wednesday October 30th,
It was a memorable Halloween night, the Companies departed from the woods for the trenches at 6 o clock in the evening for the trenches owing to a destroyed over the Meuse River the wagon train was compelled to go VIA Forges, Cumieres, Marre Charney and Bras, and arrived in Death Valley at Samognoux at 4:10 A. M. Friday morning, November 1st, our artillery put over a heavy barrage but the Huns responded.
While we were in Death Valley it was very hard for us to get the rations to the boys and it was out duty and every extra man that was around the train would have to go out and carry the rations to the men in the trenches this work we used to do at nights with the wagons, but the Germans had a wire running some where in the road and every time a wagon would go over this spot the Germans would send over a very hard Barrage, this we found out after it was too late as we had already gone over this spot the night before and our debt was paid by giving the lives of at least Six men and twice as many horses, as well as all the rations for the men, it was a very hard job to carry the rations on our backs to the men but they could stand to fight and we shurly could stand to carry the rations, while in this valley we were under continual shell fire and one knew not when he was going to pass out of this world into the land above, but we felt it our duty to be here and every everything went on as if there was no one shooting, but our own guns. This valley was called the Palm of the Devils hand by the Germans, while the French called it Death Valley, both names were very good for it seemed as if the devil had you in his power and waiting to get a good chance to take your life.
At 10:45 our captain called us together and told us about the armistice going into effect at 11 o clock, and these fifteen minutes was very long to us and every shot we heard we wished it would be the last one as we knew onced the Germans stopped firing they would never get the chance to start again. This drive was the Verdun Sector (Valley of the Meuse) and during the three day drive the 314th regiment had captured Bois, Belliven, Bois Des Chelmes Hill 328 Hill 319 Cote Romange and the villages of Crepion, Chaumistn Gibercy Waville and Noirey.
After the Armistice went into effect the wagon train pulled into Chaumint in order to feed the boys a good hot meal and this was a very beautiful sight and that I will never forget all the days of my life as well as that evening. The sights was very beautiful, the Germans was sending up different colored flars and they were answered by the Americans on thing that looked good and that was good to see the camp fires all over Hill 319 a sight that had not been seen for a period of over Four years and it made one feel fine to thing that he was one of the first to be in this place with the first ones, after we were through delivering our rations and taking in the sights we as well as listening to the boys in the trenches sing a few songs we were compelled to return to Death Valley in order to gather all salvage and on our way back in the truck we were singing good old Camp Meade songs as well as Home Sweet Home, and quite a few of the Good old songs we use to sing before getting into Battle.
During the Day of November 11th, between two and three hundred Italion Prisioners came past us on their way to Verdun, they had been German Prisioners and they stated that they were very hungry and wanted us to give them something to eat which we done with pleasure, but at the same time we were very busy trying to get German souviners from them.
On Wednesday November 12th, we moved from Chaumont to German Barracks in a woods near Danvillers, here we met the entire Company, that is what was left after the second drive, we stayed here until Monday November 18th, when we hiked through Noirey, Flabas, Chaumont and Vellip to German Dug outs along the German Lines of the previous week, here the companys was out post duty surrounding ground was a heavily mined by the Huns so every body was warned not to enter uninhabited dug outs, touch no wires lying on the ground and not to touch German Property.
On Wednesday, November 27dth, we left the dug outs and hiked through Ville, Chaumont, Gibrecy to a German camp called Mureaux Ferme, or (Kuhne Lager) the camp is located on the side of a very high hill which looks the surrounding country over for many miles.
A Concerts was given by the 314th band on Thanksgiving afternoon in a German Theatre, this was a very pleasant affair but the meals was one that never was intended for a thanksgiving Dinner, it consisted of the following Breakfast, Bacon, Potatoes, French Bread, Syrup, and coffee, Dinner Corned Beef Potatoes, Tomatoes, bread and Coffee -- Supper, corned beef, Tomatoes, coffee and bread, SOME MEALS.
We are still in this Camp and expect to leave it any day at present we are having inspection of everything and I guess when they are done looking over our equipment we will move, just where I do not know (Lets hope towards U. S. A.) but the rumors are that we go to Luxenburg, where will do Guard Duty for a while.
Tell Mother Dear I will have to say Goodbye for this time as I have given you all the doings of my [life?] since I left Camp Meade. I am your loving Son . Tine.
P. S. . Received two letters from home to-day and was glad to hear that you are all well and hope that you stay in good health until I return and always after that. I was very glad to get T. O. Van Allen's Address as well as Dr. Burgs. And will write them both a letter just as soon as I get the time we are very busy at present and Doubt think you are the same, but just waite the day is coming when I will not be so busy and we will be together and then I will take this letter and tell you all about it and the thing I did not dare to put in it.
Tell Bud he did not hit it in his letter, it was the Meuse River we were near as well as the Marne, but the one I was speaking about was the Meuse. I wish you could see a few of these rivers, they remind you of Johnsons Run, more than they do a river. I don't believe they have the water in them Johnsons Runs has in.
You said something in your letter about Francis, don't think she is overloading my mind as I do not worry about her and havnt since we have been near the front as I always had enough to worry about when we were near these places.
Must close now so Good Bye and save this letter and tell Bud if he has the time he can make a good plain copy of it as my Machine has a very poor ribbon on it, but this is the best to be had and I want a good copy of this letter to look over when I return.
Give my love to all and don't have this letter put in the paper, if they want to know anything about it let them come to France and go through what I have. Your Loving Son and Bro. Tine.
Footnotes added by Tony Patti, March 2017:
[] The first two words .Kuhne Lager. are also embedded in the George E. Hentschel Diary which can be found here: http://www.314th.org/george-hentschel-diary.html, and specifically see the diary entries for November 28, 1918 and December 6, 1918. These explain that "This German camp was called 'Kuhne Lager'. Kuhne Lager is on Mormont Hill". And the word .Lager. in German translates to .Camp. according to Google Translate, see https://translate.google.com/#de/en/Lager
[] O.D. = Olive Drab, a color, see for example, http://olive-drab.com/od_whatisod.php
[] Typo, ship name is Leviathan, see for example: http://www.314th.org/leviathan.html
[] Major Caldwell is also mentioned twice in Joseph T. Labrum's "History of Company G 314th Infantry", see page 28 and 46 of http://www.314th.org/History-of-Company-G-31th-Infantry-by-Joseph-Labrum.html
[] During World War I, American soldiers sardonically referred to incoming German artillery shells as "G.I. cans". See for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.I._(military) while http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/bm2.htm specifically refers to German 155mm artillery when it states German 155s, nicknamed "G. I. Cans"
[] Canned Willie = Canned Beef or Canned Corned Beef, see the following: https://archive.org/stream/luckybag1903unse#page/274/mode/2up/search/canned
[] Fort du Chana, Lorraine, France http://travelingluck.com/Europe/France/Lorraine/_3026988_Fort+du+Chana.html
[] Disney Railroad Yards: Allison Seyler, Archivist, B&O Railroad Museum, suggests this is a reference to Disney Road, Severn Maryland, which is only 2 or 3 miles from Camp Meade / Fort Meade, certainly reasonable walking distance for a soldier. See for example, this Google Map. She reports this as part of the Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad, and here is the Wikipedia page.
|Max Klinger prepared this list of place names in the Diary and their modern equivalents:|
Laigns = Laignes Freetts = Frettes Musey = Mussey Genevriers = Genevrieres Pierrifaite = Pierrefaites Bar-le-due = Bar le Duc Brecourt = Brocourt Dorbasle , Donbasle, Dombaale = Dombasle Malencourt = Malancourt Nantilious = Nantillois Ancramont = Ancemont Benoite, Vaux = Benoite-vaux Courcurs = Courouvre Lahaynoux = Lahaymeix Haupt = Rupt Manocourt = Bannoncourt Beuguemont = Bouquemont Tally = Tilly Anblie = Ambly St. Mahiehl = St. Mihiel Villiers = Villers-sur-Meuse Somedoui, Somedieu = Sommedieue Lampire = Lempire Frommerville = Fromerville Germenville = Germonville Bethincourt = Bethincour Charney = Chamy Samognoux = Samogneux Death Valley = between Bras and Samogneux Bois, Belliven = Bois Bellieum Bois Des Chelmes = Bois Des Chenes Chaumistn = Chaumont Waville = Wavrille Noirey = Moirey Danvillers = Damvillers Vellip = Ville ?
Max Klinger provides the maps below and this explanatory text:
I was trying to follow the journal on some maps that came with a 1927 book called "A Guide to the American Battle Fields in Europe",
prepared by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It was published by the Government Printing Office.
My attempts to follow the travels of the 314th were made difficult by the somewhat eccentric spellings of many of the place names.
The basic route to the front can be followed on a reasonably detailed modern map of France, but the portions beginning around the middle of September, 1918,
concerning their travels to the Verdun sector and their trekking around Verdun, are tough to follow.
Using enlargements of the maps mentioned above, and comparing the letter to George Hentschel's diary, makes for quite interesting reading.
They arrived just west of Verdun; then they were sent a few miles north to engage in fighting around Montfaucon.
After those engagements, they trooped some miles south of Verdun, where almost immediate they turned around and were sent north again,
to an area northwest of Verdun, which is where their last engagements before the Armistice occurred and where they were located on November 11.
(click on any of the maps below to see full-size/full-resolution)
Map of Crepion Wavrille
Map of Montfaucon
Map of Recicourt Area
Map of South of Verdun