Martin D. Fetherolf Collection
About the collection
Martin D. Fetherolf (1887-1951), a member of Muhlenberg College’s Class of 1914, was a lifelong educator who spent his career in secondary education, teaching at Allentown High School (1915-1926) before moving to Philadelphia and serving at Frankford High School as a faculty member and vice-principal until his death.
Born on September 15, 1887 in Wescoesville, Pennsylvania, Martin attended the Allentown Preparatory School, which was closely affiliated with Muhlenberg College, before entering the College in the fall of 1910. He studied the classics, and was vice-president of the Sophronian Literary Society, associate editor of the Ciarla, and a member of the press club, the Woodrow Wilson Club, and the dramatic association. Martin was also an athlete, involved in football, basketball, track, and baseball.
Following his graduation in 1914 with a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree, Martin took a position with the Allentown High School, but his teaching was interrupted by service in the Mexican Border War in 1916-17. As a member of the Hospital Corps of the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry, he rose to the rank of sergeant. His experiences in this conflict are contained in the pocket journals that are available here.
After his service in Mexico, Sergeant Fetherolf attended Officers Training Camp at Camp Hancock, GA, in preparation for his eventual service overseas in World War I. As a second lieutenant in the Supply Company of the 110th Infantry, Martin traveled to France in 1918 and served through Armistice Day. He later chronicled his wartime experience in a memoir “written to answer questions that my children ask from time to time.” That memoir has been digitized and transcribed and made available here.
Following the cessation of hostilities in November of 1918, Martin attended the University of Montpellier in France with other American service members. The Mistral is the yearbook of the American students.
In addition to his studies abroad, Martin also continued his education in the United States, completing coursework at Lehigh University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University. He continued to serve as secretary for Muhlenberg’s Class of 1914 until his death.
In addition to the materials mentioned above, the Martin D. Fetherolf ‘14 Collection comprises a photo album which contains images of Muhlenberg and Martin’s friends and family, newspaper clippings, a letter to Muhlenberg professor Harry D. Bailey (Biology) describing flora and fauna of the southwest (1916), and a scrapbook compiled by Miss Elda Graybill, who served as a nurse in France during World War I.
View Original Memoir
A brief true account of a soldier of the World War
who did his bit during the hot campaigns against
the Germans in 1918. Upon his return he was
greeted by friends who thought they were now
gazing upon a hero. One of them asked "Tell me,
how many Germans did you shoot." He
replied, "None, nor
was I killed by any German did any German shoot me.
The only killing I did was that of seriously
wounded horses, many cooties and some
overly-bold rats." No hero, but one who helped.
After having served on the Mexican Border
in 1916-1917 with the Hospital Corps, 4th Pa. Inf. and
subsequently enjoying a few months back home
at teaching, I was called into active service in
the World War on July 15, 1917 with Headquarters
of the 28th Division, the National Guard of Penna.
This Division trained at Camp Hancock, Augusta,
Georgia. I entered the third Officer's Training
Camp on January 1, 1918. Just as this training
was over, the Division was ordered to France.
We left Augusta on sleepers for Camp Merritt, N.J.
on April 24th. I was assigned to the Supply Co.
of the 110th Infantry as 1st Sergeant (attached) awaiting my commission.
It was my good fortune to get a day's leave
few hours to see my folks at home (Jacksonville,
Pa.) and friends in Allentown.
The Trip Across.
On May 2 with pack and baggage we
quietly moved down to Hoboken, ferried across
the river to New York, and from Pier 58 boarded
H.M.S. Demosthenes. This vessel of the Aberdeen
Line formerly plied between England and Australia but
now was put into service to transport American
troops to Europe. Sergeant Byrne and I were
assigned together to a state room. This was
decidedly more comfortable than the decks with
hammocks where the rest of the company was
assigned quartered. We left port at 7 a.m May 3rd,
and lost sight of the U.S.A. at about noon. We found
ourselves in a convoy of 14 ships
all painted in weird designs to serve as
We moved in a zigzag course for a while,
then struck out in a northeasterly direction. There
was nothing to see except water and sky and our
companion ships, one of which was the Karpathia [sic]
of Titanic fame. also the Carmania. We had fire and life boat drill daily.
In the evening of May 4th we struck very dense fog.
we took was well to the north of the regular ocean
lanes to avoid submarines. A cruiser was out
ahead of the convoy. On days when conditions permitted, I lined up the company
for setting up exercises on the upper deck
dark and threatening. We saw petrels (Mother Carey's
chickens) riding the waves. These and a few
porpoises were the only signs of life we saw
The following day was extremely foggy.
The deep whistle of the ships seemed ever so
much as a he
ard of cows mooing to each other
at regular intervals. One morning I looked out
of the port hole and saw something spouting
up water as a whale. "What is it?" Everyone
asked. "Is it a whale?" This "whale"
surely strangely kept
up the exact rate of speed as the ships. Finally
we asked a member of the crew what it was. The
"whale" proved to be nothing but a fog buoy towed
some distance behind one of the ships.
As a matter of precaution, no one was allowed
on deck without a life belt. At night no lights
were allowed to show. All port holes were closed
tightly making ventilation in sleeping decks very
Australian rabbit served for meals caused much
seasickness. On the ninth day out, a special submarine
guard was posted with orders to fire on any suspicious
looking object on the waters. We were now in
submarine infested waters. All, from here on, were
ordered to wear life belts constantly even to sleep.
After a boat drill the feeling was somewhat tense concerning
safety. Sergeant Wurtz broke the spell by confidently announcing,
"cheer up, fellows, we are only three miles from land". Eyes were
cast right and left to catch a glimpse of shore and eager "wheres" were heard,
Wurtz answered "Straight down" with significant gesture.
On Sunday May 12, Chaplain Schaul conducted
church services on the upper deck. Since this was Mother's Day, he delivered an
impressive sermon on "Mother",
All wrote letters home on that day.
The sun rose very early these days and
it was very cold, which indicated that we were far
to the north. On May 13th we began to zigzag
south eastward. A guard of 5 destroyers (sub-chasers) now
arrived. These were very fast and small. They swept
back and forth among the convoy looking for trouble.
On May 15th we sighted land on our left. This probably
was Scotland. Later in the day land also appeared
on the right. These low green hills undoubtedly
were those of Northern Ireland. Travelers and
mine sweepers now led us slowly toward
harbor. Next morning we found ourselves in the
harbor of Liverpool.
At six P.M. we marched triumphantly down the
gang plank and lined up for roll call. After waiting
in line for orders, it developed that we were to go
back on board ship again for the night. We
did not mind this trivial thing after having been
in the army this long. At any rate, this was the
last time we were destined to sleep in anything
like decent quarters for many months. For
many it was the very last time.
Over There, England.
We disembarked at 9:30 A.M. on May 17th. In a
few minutes we found ourselves on board an
English train composed of a long line of compartment
cars. This was comfortable travel when compared
that which the French troop trains which we
learned about later. I never saw prettier country
than that which we passed through in England.
Rich fields, low rolling hills, canals, good roads, and
fine looking live stock made this day's trip seem
like a sight seeing tour. At Rugby, I got off to buy
some "eats," as the train stopped for a few minutes. I
had U.S. money, of course.
I made my purchase (cookies)
and [sic] When I came to pay
ing for my first purchase (cookies), international difficulties
arose. The stuff was worth so much in English money
but how much in my money. Neither the vendor
of change and
How much more or less he took than he should, I
do not know to this day. He probably is still puzzling
over it also.
We passed through the outskirts of London. Toward
evening we reached Folkestone near Dover. Here
we slept on the floors of vacant houses. After we had
quieted down for the night we heard rumblings which
suggested ominous forebodings. No one had to tell us that
what we heard was the guns from across the channel.
The sound was like that of continuous rolling thunder.
We were now being introduced to the thunder to which
we had to listen
to for almost six months, sometimes
at a distance as now, but often right under it.
In the morning we left for Dover. This
was another beautiful ride. We began to get
hungry. We were fed emergency rations. At
Dover, as we waited for our boat to take us
across the Strait, boat loads of sick and
wounded arrived on their way to "blighty." Most
of them were stretcher cases. We also saw many
ships with large holes in there testifying to the
effect of submarine warfare about which we had
read so much
about for three years. It also
were not embarking for a picnic. We were about
to cross the most dangerous bit of water in
all the world and enter a land where life and death
were playing hide and seek.
In France at Last.
A small fast vessel, the "Onward", took us
over the Strait of Dover to Calais in about an hour.
Upon arrival I was sent ahead with an English
guide to locate our billets. We were
quartered crowded into
tents with sand bags about them just outside of Calais.
Water and "eats' were scarce. Shortly after dark the
anti-aircraft guns opened up. "Fritz" was coming in
airplanes to greet us. The people of
cellars and dugouts, but to us this was something
new and we did not wish miss [sic] anything. We all
got out of our tents and strained out necks to see the
show. We saw the flashes of the guns and
of bursting shells high in the air. The Germans
did not unload their bombs hereabouts that night.
Their objective was probably English cities. Search lights
kept sweeping the sky. This show was not so bad.
Our next door neighbors were a large camp of Chinese
laborers used by the British.
It became evident that we were to
exchanged the American Eddystone rifle for the British Enfield.
After receiving my gas mask, I started out with
a billeting detail to
We boarded a troop train with another company. This
was the famous 40 and 8 (40 men cars marked or 8 horses). We passed
5 mile march we encamped for the night near a fine
stream. Sergt. Jacobs of Phila. was with me on this trip.
We decided that here is a chance to get a much needed
under the open sky.
With the British
In the morning we got a lift on a
to Denique [sic] and from there to La Callique. [sic] Headquarters
Co. and the Supply Co. were to be quartered here. Jacobs and
I were the first American soldiers that the peasants
of La Callique [sic] had seen. Women wept for joy to know
that the Americans were coming. This place was near
the front on which the British had recently been pushed
back. The natives felt that we had come to save their
homes. We met some English Tommies. They represented
what was left of an English regiment after the recent German
drive. No one gladder to see a force of fresh
troops arriving than the Tommy. It was not
mouth." Their army in this region had been
practically annihilated during March and April
before the terrific onslaught of the Germans in their
"victory" drive. Although they had misgiving about
the green troops from America, they felt that
fine material was arriving to rebuild the English
Our work in finding billets was soon completed.
the, our English friends had everything planned
for us. The Supply Co. was to be quartered in big barn. The
was were billeted in the houses nearby. Our outfits
arrived at 10.30 P.M.
left led by an Irish band of
bag pipes and drums. The men were fed English style with
hard bread, cheese and tea. Everybody was tired and soon
asleep in their French billets. Several of us made out
quarters in a shanty alongside the village school
house, sleeping on the cement floor. This
was improved the next day by a bundle of straw. At
night we again heard the rumble of distant "thunder."
On May 23rd we had a big "feed." We bought a chicken
and had a French Madame fry it for us. There were
five in the party. The chicken offered little resistance
to our spirited attack. The feast was topped off with wine
from the estaminet.
On May 25th I took a detail of men to Blequin
miles kilometers away. I came back by lorry. The next
day I was sent to Senlecque to join Lieut. Dubs'
third battalion supply detachment. We were located at
Lottinghem for several weeks. We slept three
to a pup tent under a tree. We took over English
horses, wagons, carts, and lumbers. On the 27th I took
half the detachment to the rifle range. We were required
to get used to the English rifle by firing the range. It now
looked as though indeed we were in the English army.
Our rations were those of the English. I asked the
English Supply Officer one day what the bread allowance
per day was in dividing up rations. He replied "a pound
per day per man, perhaps."
The first bag of mail arrived May 31st. I greedily
looked for letters addressed to me. I found six. These
I read and re-read for several days. They were a
month old but new all the same.
I was laid up with an attack of grippe for
a few days. The hard cold ground on which I lay
made life most miserable, and after I thought
I was better an attack of jaundice set me back.
At this time we were ordered to move. We left Lottinghem
on Sunday June 9th,
we and moved our wagon train
southward in successive stages three days. On the
On Thursday we entrained loading horses, wagons
and baggage on 40 and 8's (horse cars). We traveled for
24 hours southward and then eastward. We got
a skyline view of Paris in passing
the prominent object. This was a most uncomfortable
trip for me. We were croweded in the box cars
sick and I lay in the corner most of the time, trying to rest.
I was often stepped on in the crowed of men. They could not
help it and I was too tired and weak to protest.
At Meaux we detrained and set out for
our destination. This proved to be a long way off. Our
wagon train moved steadily on and on into the darkness.
Ten oclock, eleven, twelve and still on we went. At
one oclock we found ourselves on a road which grew
constantly narrower and rougher and finally
landed us in a hay field. The guide had made
a mistake. It was pitch dark. To move back
would have been demoralizing to the worn out
men and animals. So we unhitched, gave the
horses some of the stacked hay and flopped down
on the piles of hay for sleep. In the morning
we found ourselves a mile away from the town
of our destination, St. Mesmes[sic].
With the French.
The sudden shift from the British front
German drive toward Paris. We were thrown in
between Chateau Thierry and Paris. The drive had
now largely spent itself at the Marne around
Chateau Thierry. Many wounded and gassed Americans
were coming back from the 1st and 2nd Divisions.
including the Enfield rifle, and were again given
American rifles. Our service with the British was
ended. We now trained to cooperate with the French.
Our next important move was in a long semi-circle
generally eastward, passed through Rebais and on the
left side of Montmirail. We received our first pay in
France. For some it also was the last. We were paid
in francs. Several hundred of these looked like big
money. The French shops in the villages did loud office
business for a few days.
On the 1st of July, we arrived at Artouges [sic] at noon.
This was a very clean and pleasant village, but
it was within easy range of German shells. We were
immediately warned to keep under cover in day time
and show no light, not even a watch, at night.
This this warning was not to be taken lightly, was
proven a few minutes after we arrived, when
town a French sausage balloon was serenely
hanging in the sky. The two observers came
down by parachute at once but none too
soon. A minute after they alighted, Fritz swooped
down toward the bag and let go with his
machine gun loaded with incendiary bullets,
the next instant a big flame shot upward
from the burning hydrogen. The burning silk
came down and that was the end of this balloon,
but Fritz was not through. Although anti air-
craft shells were bursting all around him,
he rose and flew directly on toward the
next balloon about a mile away. We saw
this one meet the same fate as the first one.
Onthe German flew to the third sausage
and dispatched it in the same manner. Then
all around him full of puffs of smoke from bursting
shells. We now knew definitely that we were on the
edge of a war. An occasional shell whined and
exploded nearby, but none struck the village for the
first few days. I slept in a hay field the first night
but then moved into a deserted shanty and slept on the cement floor.
The Fourth of July.
It was rather quiet for a few days. The companies
went forward in details to dig defensive trenches. Then
came the 4th of July. There was little doing during the day
to remind us of our national holiday. Fireworks were
few excepting artillery fire. French refugees were
sadly making their way back from the areas.
They were a most forlorn folk. Old men, women, and
children were trudging sadly along. Some had
hand carts and wagons filed up with what few
belongings they could take. A few had old decrepit
horses or oxen drawing loads beyond capacity. It
was almost heart-breaking to see their sad faces.
I went to sleep at about 10.30 in the midst of
unusual shell fire. Suddenly I woke up, hearing
the "first call" on the bugle which was immediately
followed by "assembly." This was the call to arms. It was pitch dark. The time was
about 1.30 A.M. Sergeant's whistles blasted and
the sharp command of "fall in" was heard everywhere.
A heavy barrage was coming over. Our artillery was
replying vigorously. Blinding flashes like lightning
made it all the harder to find the equipment which
we had to grab in a haste. I got out as soon as I could
and aroused my Supply Detachment. The Infantry companies
"Double time" given and they were on their way to the
defense line. A German attack was certainly expected.
Our men hitched up their teams in quick time and
loaded the baggage to make a move either forward
or back as the situation developed. I recalled a poem which I had studied long ago. "The night before Waterloo" One line ran "There was mounting in hot haste." We moved out of
Artouges to a woods to the left and waited for orders.
As morning came, the fireworks subsided. After a tense
wait of several hours, we were ordered back to our
former position in the village. The Infantry returned at
about noon. The German "attack" was only a raid
but the French General took no chances and was
prepared for the long expected drive. This drive came
When we came back, all belongings left
behind in the hot haste of the night before had already been
salvaged by French who had remained in the village,
We took up our routine again for a few days. I sent
some money from my pay to a bank in Paris through
the Y.M.C.A man. This fund served me in good stead
when on leave after the Armistice.
It was now evident that another big drive
was planned by the Germans. Up to now, their
attacks in 1918 were all highly successful. They
then in the French. The new onslaught was to
bring them final victory, they thought. Meanwhile,
the French, with the newly arrived Americans, were feverishly
getting defenses ready and harassing the enemy with
artillery fire. Long range railroad guns of big caliber were brought
up at night and used as fast as permissible without
overheating until the approach of dawn, when they
were moved miles back to safety. With these the French
shelled important roads and towns as far as twenty miles
behind the German lines.
On July 8, our brigade (the 55th) moved into
what is known as the reserve line. Our men, in small groups, had gone up
mostly at night for a week to dig trenches. Here we
were to hold the enemy in case they broke thru [sic]
the first and secondary lines.
It was late in the evening when we
moved in. The infantry companies went to their
trenches. We of the Supply Company moved our ration
and ammunition carts under an open shed near
the top of a hill a short distance behind the
infantry, whose trenches were beyond the crest of the hill.
Some of our men slept under the shed
with the horses. Several of us decided it would be better
had done before. No sooner had we rolled in our blankets
than we heard vigorous jabbering in French just
behind us. It
was about. A flash! A trembling of the earth, coupled
with a deafening "Boom". It felt as though the old
earth was trying to shake us off. We had made our
bed under the muzzles of a battery of 6 inch
guns. We had failed to take notice of this
darkness and camouflage. We gathered outselves
together and lay down again, hoping that would be
all. To our dismay they repeated the process about
every twenty minutes. At first we jumped every time
the guns went off, but gradually our nerves tired
of this and we snatched a little sleep between salvos.
In the morning we looked for the din-makers. They
were quiet now and well concealed. We had slept
about fifty yards in front of them. They were fired at
a high angle at distant objectives.
For several days we kept busy digging in
and placing our kitchens and supplies at most
convenient places. We were now located near Coude-eu-
Brie, south of the Marne River and east of Chateau-
Thierry. The 3rd Division (Regulars)
were was on our left.
One evening we heard continuous cracking of what
over in the direction of the sound to asscertain the cause.
A German shell had struck an ammunition dump
in the 3rd Div. area and set it on fire.
The landscape from our hill was beautiful. The
tops of the hills were wooded. The sides and valleys were
spotted patched with green fields and yellow ripe wheat which
was ripe for harvest but no one was there to
harvest do it.
These fields were full of scarlet poppies which grew as
weeds among the grain. The soldier poet McCrae was inspired
by fields like these when he wrote "In Flanders Fields." The Surmelin
River followed down the valley toward the Marne. Coude lay along
this stream about a kilometer to our right.
On the afternoon of July 14 Sergeant Byerly and I went
over to Coude to see what we could find. The town was mostly
deserted. We saw a few old women with worried faces.
To our great delight we found two young ladies who
had refused to follow the line of refugees away from
the danger zone. Little did they know what was
in store for them. Twenty four hours later then
village was in the midst of a fearful battle and
These Since girls knew no English and we knew
practically no French.
making our we could not, therefore, could start much of an argument. Beyond the town
we found a field of growing potatoes. We dug out some
size of a small walnut. We kept on digging until we
had filled our helmets. Now who was going to fry
them. Our mouths were watering for delicious new
potatoes. We took them to the stream and washed and
scraped them with stones. The skins came off easily. We walked
back to the village and sought out an old lady and
persuaded her (by gestures and francs) to fry them for us.
This she did. They were delicious. We paid her and
gave her some of the potatoes. They tasted better than
anything we had had for months. What a relief from
A Terrible Night.
At about sunset a French flame came low
over the hill in back of us and dropped a message
for the French General. The content of it was that the
Germans were massing troops in large numbers
for the long expected attack.
It had been so quiet for several days that
the very quietness was ominous. Very few shells came
over from the enemy. I had dug a small hole
about 2 by 6 ft. and a foot and a half deep at the
edge of the woods. This was my sleeping place, and
I felt protected against anything except a direct hit.
I had stretched my shelter tent half over it to protect
holes occupied by others. The horses and mules of our supply
Detachment were tied up to trees nearby.
I went to sleep as usual as darkness came.
I had slept for a few hours when
shell after shell burst
I was awakened by a terrible din. No mistaking, the
Germans were putting over on us a fearful barrage.
Shell after shell burst about us. The continuous roar
amid the loud bursts nearby told that the bombardment
was going on all along the line. In the darkness
one could not tell how near
the a shell crashed.
Judging by quaking earth
and deafening report, it seemed as though many of them struck just
outside of my foxhole. We could hear the whistle and
whine of those that went over us. To describe one's
feelings fully at
this such a time is impossible. I felt entirely
helpless and could only trust in the Supreme and
pray "O Lord God, be with us." Judging by the unceasing
bursting of shells it seemed impossible for anyone
to live thru [sic] it until daybreak. The night seemed
everlasting. This was the heaviest barrage ever put over by the Germans.
Saved by a Mule
Amidst the uproar, I heard heavy tramping of
feet and the rattling of a light chain. A horse must
be loose. What of it? But the sound came so
close that I feared he might step into my
the flashes I saw one of our good gray mules
walking around bewildered, wondering what it
was all about. I walked over to him,
to him and tied him to a nearby sapling. The
moments of darkness between flashes were terrifying.
I walked over to my nearest neighbors, a squad from
Co. M, who had made quite an elaborate dug out,
to see how they were faring. They were all awake
and tense as I was. Finding them safe made me feel
a little easier and I went back to my foxhole. Whether I
slept a little, I do not know, but soon dawn came.
I looked up to my shelter tent which I had stretched
over my hole, and saw a hole thru [sic] it just above
my head. That hole had not been there the night
before. I began to investigate and to my surprise,
I found a hole thru [sic] a part of my blankets and in the
ground. I dug a little and found a piece of a high
explosive shell, perfectly fresh, about the size of my
thumb. This must have arrived while I was out tying up
the mule. Thanks to the mule - or what!
The morning of July 15th found the last great
German offensive in full swing. Our men were in
the trenches awaiting the onslaught. Directly in front
through to the reserve line which we held,
but down the Surmelin valley to the right
of Coude we could see them trying to cross
the valley to pierce the line held by the 109th
Infantry. Altho [sic] they had crossed the Marne in places
and had carried the first and second lines
held by the French, the Germans did not break through.
We found out later in the day that our
two Companies B and C who had been sandwiched
between French units, along the Marne (front line) were nearly annihilated
when the French withdrew without notifying
our men. Companies B and C did noble work
in preventing the enemy from crossing the
river in front of them, but to their dismay
they soon found themselves surrounded by
Germans who had crossed at points from
which the French had retreated. Our allies'
custom during an attack was to abandon the
front lines and depend on a counter-attack to
recover the lost ground. This worked out badly
for our men who knew no retreat. Most of the men
of the two companies were killed, wounded or captured.
After the terrible barrage of shells during
the night I expected to find few alive of our men.
The ground was dotted with shell holes, but our
casualties were surprisingly few. One large shell
killing and burying Sergeant Dourier and
seven men. During the day a high explosive
shell killed Serg't. Carrick. He was the first one
of my pals from the Third Officers' Training camp to
make the supreme sacrifice. Later we heard
that Lt. Coburn, another good friend of mine,
was killed while trying to hold back the German
Shells kept on coming intermittently.
Jesse Johnston and I dug a better hole to sleep in.
We used an old French lance to
hold support the earth
over us. A battery of French mortars (six inch)
moved in along the hill to the right of us. They kept
up almost continuous bombardment until
one of the guns burst killing one of the
French gunners. Here we saw a real air battle. A dozen allied
planes engaged a similar force of Germans.
An Allied plane was seen to come down
far behind the German lines. Later we found out
that it was that of Quentin Roosevelt.
On the Offensive.
About the second day it became apparent
the Germans had failed in breaking
thru through. On
the 18th they withdrew across the Marne. In
the evening of this day we moved out of this
sector travelling westward to the south of Chateau-Thierry
in big circle to Charly. We were to support the new
American-French offensive near Soissons. We arrived
at Charly toward evening the next day and put
up for the night in a barricaded wood. Water was
scarce. We found a farm nearby with a water hole
took our thirsty horses there to drink the dirty water.
One horse, seeing the water, broke away and
ran top speed into hole [sic] which proved to be
a deep pool of mud. He began to sink. The more
he struggled the more he sank. He was soon
exhausted and drowned, despite our efforts to
pull him out.
The men were exhausted from the long
hike, and rather than require several of these
to stand watch, where they needed rest so badly,
I did the guarding myself.
Early Tthe next morning
early we moved on. Now
we went eastward and passed thru [sic] the region
where some of the fiercest fighting had taken place,
when the Germans drove toward Paris in June.
Woods were nothing but splintered stumps and
the ground was all torn up. We passed thru Vaux.
There was very little left this [sic] village but a few
wall [sic] of houses.
They Next we came to Chateau-Thierry
from which the Germans had now retreated. This
fine town along the Marne had certainly
better days. Here we saw many dead Germans,
of partly buried. Frequently, a hand
or a foot stuck out of the shallow grave of
dirt thrown, hastily over their bodies.
The concrete bridge over the river was
wrecked and the engineers had hastily
had built a
this southward and moved eastward until
evening when we came to St. Eugene very
near the place where we had been a few
days before, holding back the German advance.
Now we were on the advance.
We arrived at St. Eugene in a pouring rain at
nightfall. We had received no rations or feed for the
horses. The beasts were nearly worn out and famished.
Our men went over to an oat field and pulled up
armfuls of the green oats to feed them. To keep dry
that night was impossible. We were very hungry.
Early the next morning we started toward
the Marne. We were still wet and hungry. A pile
of boxes and cartons in a clump of bushes looked
interesting. We investigated and found a pile of bread,
"dog buscuits [sic]" (hard crackers), butter and canned beef. We
asked no questions as to whose it was, but broke
open the boxes and helped ourselves to all we could
carry and ate it as we moved along. Our food problem
for the moment was solved.
We crossed on a pontoon and started upon
steep and extremely muddy roads toward the Foret de Fere.
We stopped in a thick forest and received rations
and feed for horses. During the night of July 28th our infantry
companies relieved the French in the first lines. This
was our regiment's (as a whole) first real action. Immediate
Courmont. Advances were made but soon our
men, confronted by a heavily fortified wood on
top of a long hill known as Grimpette Woods, could
move no farther. We lost heavily from machine guns.
On the third day a determined assault by our men
carried the woods.
We of the Supply Co. were to follow as closely
as possible. The woodland road was almost impassable.
The wagons and carts sank to the hub. We often had
to lift and push to help the exhausted horses move
the vehicles. I as sergeant was now in sole charge of the 3rd
battalion supply train
(as sergeant). No officers were
with us. One night, in the Fere forest, I received a
not to bring the supply train up to the La Motte
farm. I had no idea where this was, and to move
there the mud and darkness would have been next
to impossible. I decided to wait for further orders.
Byrnes Wurtz with his train moved up in
the morning only to receive terrific shelling making
the place untenable. So he came back with his
outfit. Each night we took up food and
ammunition as far as we were allowed to go. From there it had to be carried.
One morning a young infantry man came
running back shouting that snipers are still in
these woods and showed a bleeding thumb on his
right hand. We hardly believed him, but I lined
up the supply men and and with rifles and pistols we searched
no snipers. At 1st aid station, this kid was tagged
S.I.W.(self inflicted wound).
The third evening here I took food up to
where. I met a company of the 42nd Div.
They were my old buddies at the Mexican Border.
I had coached them in football, and they had lost
but one game that season. We were very glad
to see each other, but shelling was so heavy
that the reunion was short.
After having stormed Grimpette Woods our
infantry came back for brief rest in a wooded ravine
at Le Charmel. We hurried hot food to them. This
was the first real meal most of them had for three
The woods were damp and wet, but all were
tired and went to sleep early. This rest was disturbed
in a most awful manner. At midnight a big
German plane came over and drop [sic] 4 bombs
in midst of our sleeping men killing and wounding
more than one hundred. I lay within about 30 ft
of the place where the first one exploded. Some-one
yelled "gas." I put one my mask. It was pitch
dark. None of my pals around were injured. I fell
asleep and woke up at dawn with the mask still
The havoc of the bombs was terrible.
Pieces of clothing, blankets, and tents were hanging
high up in the trees. Great holes were torn
stuck in the ground about five feet deep.
The wounded were removed during the night
and the dead buried in the morning.
On to the Vesle River
The next evening we moved out of these ill-fated
woods to Courmont where a few days before our
men had fought so fiercely and lost so heavily.
Most of the next day was spent in identifying
and burying the dead. The hill leading to
the Bois les
bodies, most of them from the 110th, attesting
to the fearful fight
Toward evening we moved foreward through
Cierges and Sergy. The Germans retreated
rapidly, burning ammunition dumps etc. after
them. After leaving Sergy we encountered a heavy
thunderstorm. It was hard to tell thunder and
lightning from gun fire. As we approached
Coulonges we found the town subjected to intense
shelling from the Germans. Our lines halted
until the shelling abated. The men fell out of
line to rest and find shelter from the downpour.
Shelter was scarce. The ground everywhere was
mud. I started to rest leaning against a wagon.
As I was about asleep my knees gave way
under me and I dropped down into the mud.
I decided that spot was as good as any other
and slept there. I woke up at dawn drenched
The men were assembled to fall in.
We moved through Coulonges to a field nearby.
here the men were told to dry their clothing
as the sun came out. We may have been
the forerunners of the "nudists" that morning.
At any rate, it was fortunate that the enemy
did not attack us just then. Perhaps, they
were in the same predicament.
Toward evening we moved on several
kilometers and bivouaced for the night
on the reverse slope of the hill. We dug in
taking no chances. On the next day we
passed through Cohan and Dravegny. At
Cohan we passed the grave marked very
carefully "Lt.Lt. Quentin Roosevelt." He was
the son of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt. We had seen an air battle about July 17
far behind the German lines in which
an allied plane fell down like a dead
leaf from a tree. Later the Germans reported
that they had shot down young Roosevelt.
Our battalion was ordered into a small
low copse-like wood. Here we remained
for almost a week. Ar first it was very quiet.
I slept under an ammunition limber, a
place to be in case of shells. We received
replacements (men to fill in our depleted ranks) and
started to drill in an open field. This was too much
balloons far off could not help but see us.
What a shelling they gave us! Good fortune
was with us. Most of the shells fell where
little damage was done. Our losses were
slight. At night enemy planes dropped
flares trying to locate us.
The French brought in a sausage balloon
and located just in back of us. One day the
Germans did their best to dispose of it. Shell
after shell exploded near it. The observers
came down in their parachutes. The balloon
was pulled down. The enemy had not succeeded.
The Germans had taken their position
along the Vesle River where they meant to stay.
Our regiment moved northward to Courville
about three kilometers south of the Vesle.
Our supply train took shelter in a fine woods
good enough for a picnic grove, if it were not
for the war. From here we supplied the dough boys
with food etc. while they took their position
in the lines. There was no general fighting
at this time, the lines on both sides merely
At first we were left alone by Fritz, but
after about a week an occasional shell came
over. Several horses were killed or so badly
wounded that I was obligated to shoot them
to put them out of their misery. We slept in
fox holes which had made [sic] been by others who were
cooties (body lice) and these became my
closest enemies until after the armistice.
There was considerable bombing at night.
You could hear the throbbing drone of German planes,
but it was impossible to tell whether they were
directly above or not. Occasionally you could
see the streak of a tracer bullet, like a small
meteor, as the pilots were signalling to each
other, together with the rat-tat-tat of their
machine guns. Night air raiding was terrifying
to the man on the ground, particularly to one with
poor nerves. One night a shell shocked doughboy
crawled into my fox hole with me while the
air seemed full of planes. He proved most undesirable
company. He would pray, cry, and curse almost
in the same breath.
I threatened to. Pleading to keep
no good. I threatened to throw him
out. This helped some until the planes had
The Poor Horses.
At the end of a comparatively unmolested
week, one evening while eating our mess
a shell burst just above the tree tops
another. We knew they now had us spotted.
All our men, save a few for guarding purposes,
sought dug outs in the village of Courville aside
of our woods. I went into a deep cellar under
a church with about a dozen others. Here we
the earth began to shake. A heavy
bombardment was laid on our village and
surroundings. Most of the men were asleep.
Gas started to flow into our cellar. I went
around and woke every one and made
them put on their masks. It was none too soon
of the deadly stuff. I felt the effects of it for
quite a while myself. As morning came
the shelling ceased. We went over to see
how our horses had fared in the woods. It
was a sorry sight. We had lost no men but
several horses lay dead literally torn to pieces.
Among those horses alive, there were all
degrees of wounded. Some with broken legs,
some with the bowels hanging out, others
with flesh wounds. Now there was no officer
with us and I was Sergeant in charge. The sad
lot fell upon me to put several hopelessly
wounded animals out of their misery. So I shot them
with a French carbine. That morning
was spent burying dead horses.
A Safer Woods
In the afternoon we were ordered out
of this deadly woods back to another woods
near Arcis-le-Ponsart. Here we were on a high
hill from which we could see far in all directions.
Toward the south lay beautiful, now peaceful,
farming country and toward the north could be seen
ahead indicated the front lines. Occasionally
over the landscape one could see an eruption
of gray smoke and dust where a shell burst.
Here we were unmolested by shell fire. I slept under
a large tree. The weather at this time was perfect.
At night we took rations and ammunition up to
the lines. This was always an uncertain adventure.
The enemy methodically shelled the roads at night.
At a road fork in Arcis-le-Ponsart
was dropped nightly at the same spot.
This shows how accurately the Germans had
spotted important road intersections. Our
engineers filled the hole
only to have another one there the next. The trip to
the lines and back seemed dreadfully long when
it appeared as though Fritz had your every move
spotted and harassed you with shells.
Stallion in the Well
To replace our animals of which we were
woefully short, we receive [sic] a number little
Spanish mules and old worn out French horses. Some
of these were hardly worth their feed. The mules
were light and not broken to our kind of work. The
French horses so old and decrepit that had [sic] a
hard time moving along with
out burden. A heavy
wagon was almost out of the question. One old stallion
could hardly keep on his feet going up and down
the hill to the spring for water. Into this spring
had been sunk a large barrel, making a deep
as he turned around after drinking and fell
into the barrel with his tail end. He presented
a most amusing sight with his head and
fore legs out of the barrel struggling but unable
to get the rest of his body out. We secured a rope around his body
and a half dozen men pulled him out.
Several kilometers to our right was located
an old abbey. Here the army has established a
delouser. When our turn came to undergo the
purging process we marched over and lined single
file, took off our cootie infested clothes and gave
them to a soldier, who put them into a large steam
sterilizer while we took a shower bath. After
the bath, we moved
we were given our clothing steaming hot. Many
of us had a hard time getting our wet and shrunken
uniforms on. They were badly in need of pressing,
but who cared. We were temporarily rid of the
On the evening of Sept. 3rd I was notified to
report to Division Headquarters to be sworn in as
2nd Lieutenant. I had almost forgotten months ago that I
had qualified for a commission back
in Georgia. I went to Regimental Hqs. for
transportation to Div. Hqs. I was told to report there
the same position as I was, we were to be
taken for a ride to the rear. When we assembled
next morning. I saw
of the Officers Training Camp, but many did
not show up. I asked about Strawbridge, Coburn,
Carrick, Young, and others not present. They
were never to recieve their commission, having been
killed before this "happy" day.
We were loaded on a big army truck and
taken over rough roads southward away from
the noise. After
arriving we arrived at Div. Hqs. little time
was lost before we were sworn in. We signed our
papers. I noticed my commission was dated
June 1, 1918, and now it was the 4th of September.
It had taken a long time to catch up with us. We
were not entitled to wear a little gold bar on the
shoulder; otherwise it made little difference at
the front. Officers and men are very close and
little distinction is made while steel and lead are in
the air and life and death are hand in hand.
The same truck borught us back to our regiment.
My company commander, Lt. Braddock, offered to sell
me a blanket roll which had belonged to Lt. Jackson. Jackson
had recently been killed. The roll contained a suit, shoes
blankets and a Sam Browne belt. I bought it for
whether the things would fit or not. oblivious to whether would things would fit or not.
Before the newly commissioned Lieutenants
separated to go to their companies, a celebration
secured and we rode to Epernay about 20
kilometers away. When we arrived there, we
found the town in darkness. This was not
strange since the city was within easy reach
of bombers. After some searching, we located a
restaurant and ordered the best food they had
for our banquet. We had steak but the portions
were small. Food was scarce, but these French
gave us all they had, after we gave them plenty
of francs. Needless to say we also tasted
the champagne for which Epernay is famous.
The banquet was far from jovial. Past and future were not conducive to joy.
Across the Vesle.
The return trip on the bouncing truck was most tiresome.
We arrived back with our companies
just as orders were given to move up to the attack
across the Vesle River at once. I was attached to
Co. L but on detached service with the Supply Co.
The doughboys moved up and I followed the 3nd [sic] Battalion with
four ammunition limbers. Following the infantry was
easy during the day of Sept. 5th. We went up toward
the lines in slow stages, but at dusk the men
were led single file across the fields from
Courville across the plateau into the Vesle Valley.
I chose the road across the hill by way of Boune
Maison Farm. When we got to top it was dark,
and i had lost all contact with my battalion.
We move off the road along a thicket to wait
for developments. The men unhitched and went
to sleep. I went scouting around to see if I could
machine gun companies, artillery and everything
excepting the 110th Infantry. I went over to the
road and jumped on an ambulance going forward
and soon arrived at Villette. There was heavy shelling
all along the river and machine gun fire at intervals.
I went into a cellar where I found the advanced post
of Division Headquarters. I got what information I could. It
river driving the Germans across the hills toward
the Aisne River. It was very dark outside. I waited
for a returning ambulance to take me back.
These ambulance drivers are a busy lot during
time [sic] like these. They rush up to the first aid station
and in a jiffy have their load and off they go to the
rear to a field hospital. It was no long before one
of them took me back.
At dawn, I took m
ay convoy forward
down the hill into Villette and drew up behind
a stone wall. We could go no further. The bridge
across river [sic] had been demolished and the engineers
were rebuilding it. I went down to
the see how
soon the bridge might be finished when the
Germans began firing shells at short range.
I lay down along the railroad tracks until the
firing subsided. Machine gunners were anxiously
awaiting the bridge to get their mules and
carts across. They crossed before the bridge
was completed. The firing across the hill
the engineers had finished their job. I rode over
of Baslieux at the top of the hill. Here I planned
to unload my ammunition. I came back
and led them across and up a steep hill
and unloaded alongside of an unoccupied house and informed
battalion headquarters where they might find
it. They were very urgent that we get out,
since we were so close to the lines, and the
shelling was unmerciful at intervals. We
got away down the hill across bridge when
we were spotted. Shells dropped everywhere,
it seemed. We were now on a main road
going toward Fismes. The air was black
with smoke and dust from exploding shells.
We kept going with the horses at a gallop
when a wheel horse of one of the limbers
dropped. I helped the driver unhitch him
and ordered him to hurry on with three.
Shells still came and how we got away
as we did is hard to tell. When we came to
Fismes I stopped them behind some buildings
to wait for the shelling to
who had lost the horse of his own accord hopped on an ambulance
going back in that direction to see if his
horse was really dead. When he got there the
horse was on his feet and he brought him
back. The animal was uninjured but hadbeen stunned by the concussion of a
bursting shell. Again we had come out of a
Back to Rest
As we passed thru [sic] Fismes we saw a fine
town in almost utter ruins. Our Division had
held this town for nearly a month with constant
rain of shell on it. Hardly a roof was seen whole.
The men had occupied the cellars as protection.
When we got back as far as Courville
we found the rest of our regimental supply
train in the same woods that we had
occupied a few weeks before. The smell
of the not-too-deeply-buried horses was a
grim reminder of our previous stay. Lt. Dubs
and I slept in an old water tank that night.
The next morning found us on the move.
This time we moved away from the fireworks,
southeastward towards Epernay. I was
transferred to Co. M in charge of a platoon.
We were loaded on cassions (French motor trucks)
driven by Indo-Chinese drivers. We drove
most of that day and all night. Once I
noticed our cassion veering dangerously close
to the trees and telephone poles along the road.
I quickly glanced over to the driver and saw
he was asleep over the wheel. I elbowed
him and awakened him just in time to
ditched. These poor drivers were almost
worked to death moving troops this busy
In the forenoon we reached a village
named Contrisson. Here we disembussed and
were assigned to quarters in houses and barns.
What a feeling of relief it was here! We were
far away from the front, so far, in fact, that
we heard no rumbling of the guns. This was
the first time since we landed in France that
we could enjoy quietness and walk out in
the open daylight without danger of being
observed by the enemy. I once again checked
up on the time of the year. It was September 12th
and the weather was perfect. We received a
large number of new men (replacements)
to bring our numbers back to fighting strength.
Many of these men had not been in the army
long. Many of them came from the Southwest,
Indians and halfbreeds. We at once were
put to work drilling to get our men into
The Supply Train had been left behind to travel
by themselves. We had no regular cooks with us.
Rations were brought, and I was given the job
of dividing them to the companies. Men volunteered
to cook, but the question of utensils was a difficult
one. The town searched for old kettles and we
In the 13th we saw in the paper the glad
news that the Americans had taken the
St. Mihiel salient.
September 15th was the first Sunday
we observed as such in France. This was also my birthday.
We had religious services, after which I wrote
some letters. This rest and happiness was not
to last long. On the next day we received orders
to move in the evening, with full pack.
At dusk about seven o'clock we fell in
and marched off northward. The direction
was significant because it indicated return
to the lines and hell. About every hour we had
short rests. At midnight a thunderstorm was
seen ahead. It was hard to tell whether the thunder
and lightning were real or that of the guns.
We had a rest of about 20 minutes during which
time many fell asleep and had to be routed when
when the whistle blew to move. We moved on and on
thru [sic] intermittent showers. At dawn we
came to a railroad just as a long American
hospital train moved toward the west.
It could easily be guessed- wounded from the
St. Mihiel drive. We were so tired that we
almost envied them. They were out of action
and hardship and perhaps on their way to the
States. Some of our number would probably soon
pass that way- if we were lucky enough not
reached a wet woods where we bivouaced [sic]
for the day. We were fed and rested after the
forced march of the night. We had covered about
40 kilometers with heavy pack.
In the evening we again moved out for --
we know not where-- but not to a picnic. This
was done as a routine for 4 days and nights. At last
we again joined up with our supply co. and
cooks with their rolling kitchens. We passed
near Clermont-en-Argonne. At last we stopped in the
Argonne Forest north of Les Islettes. Here we stayed
for a few days.
In the Argonne Forest
We received equiptment, maps and instructions
for a big drive. We drilled during the day and fought
cooties at the night. It was very quiet here, and we
were kept concealed in the woods so as to surprise
the enemy. Occasionally an enemy plane
soared high overhead in the daytime to
see if possible what was going on behind
our lines but the dense forest shielded us
perfectly. For the most part
it we had rain
or damp weather which was very disagreeable
but, fortunately, Fritz left us alone. Not a shell
dropped in our area during this stay
of five or six days and we were only about
two miles behind the front lines.
Mimeographed instructions were
issued to all officers, setting forth plans for
when the drive was to start was designated
as D, and the hour as H. These were kept
secre until the time approached. I was
still with Co.M., Lieut. Stover in command,
and Lloyd Hayney, the other Lieutenant, with
whom I lived under a pup tent.
Finally, on September 25th D was revealed
to the officers as the 26th and H as 5:30. Everybody
was now anxious to get started as if keyed up for a great
adventure. Extra rations were issued for three
days. This consisted of "bully beef" in cans, hard
biscuits in small packages and a loaf of bread for
every two men. These loaves were hard-crusted
dark French bread. How to carry these large
round loaves was soon solved by putting them
on the bayonet (stuck through) and the rifle
slung over the shoulder. It looked as though we were going
to a picic after all. This was all right until action began
but by that time most of the bread was eaten.
We looked after the shoes of the men and issued
new ones where needed and gave out plenty
of extra ammunition.
A Night of Activity
Just as we were about to move out on
the evening of the 25th to get to our "jumping off"
place, I received orders to report to the Supply
Co., where I had most of my service before, and
take charge of a battalion Supply Train. My first
from their position north of Neuvilly east of the Aire to
their new position with the regiment
west of the river. I started out at dusk with
my wagons and proceeded toward Neuvilly
and thence to the battalion's position. It was
fully dark before we got to Neuvilly. All the
supply work at the front had to be done at
night because we would make an easy
target for the enemy in the day time. Before
we got to the town, a shell dropped in
front of us. We proceeded and soon came
to a large smoking crater in the middle
of a crossroad. This again attested to the
accuracy in range which the Germans
had on all intersections. We had to thread
our way around barriers of fallen trees
and wire to battalion headquarters, which
was located on a high hill side just behind
the front lines. Quietly and quickly we loaded
ammunition and other supplies as well as
officers' baggage, and started back toward
Neuvilly and then across the river. Here
we turned right and followed a road
toward a large farm. Here dozens of
whippet tanks were assembling. They
made a terrific racket as they clattered
and lumbered along. We felt uneasy because
the Germans must surely hear themand
happened. Either the enemy suspected nothing
or was withholding everything for the onslaught.
At the farm we saw long columns
of infantry on their way to the lines, our
own regiment among them. We rode on
between the tanks toward the forest.
In the forest we came to a corduroy
road (made of logs and planks). We followed
this to a fork in the road where we were
stopped and told we could go no further;
the front line trenches were just ahead.
In the dense woods along the road could be seen
numerous dugouts and log huts. Here
I found some of our officers and reported
our delivery of supplies for 1st Battalion.
The infantry was rapidly taking its
place in the line where
all of a
suddenly flashes like lightening occured,
the earth shook and terrific explosions
took place almost at once. For a moment I did not know
whether we were on the receiving end
of a barrage or the other. It seemed
a [sic] though every tree spouted forth fire
all in the direction of the enemy. I knew
now our barrage had begun and the
big show was on. It was dreadful
din. The horses and drivers were bewildered.
We quickly unloaded and made our
way back to where we had started from.
to our company in the woods, tired after
an exciting night of intense activity. It
was great relief to have carried out an
order given at short notice over unknown
roads at night. I had become used to
this. Ability to read and understand the
five topographical maps and a good
sense of direction helped me to do this.
The Big Drive (Argonne Offensive)
Artillery fire continued during the
day. We were waiting for order to move
the supply train up to follow the
advance. Meanwhile, the 92nd Division
(colored) moved in the woods in back
of us as our support. So many
of the colored boys came to our kitchen
for something to eat that our supply
threatened to give out until a big
colored Major came up chased [sic]
them back to their own area.
News about the progress of the
drive was eagerly sought. We were
informed toward evening that the general
advance from Verdun to the Forest
was succeeding and that we were
to follow up to Varennes. At night
we started and followed the same
road thru[sic] the forest some had been on
very slow since there was so much
traffic. Supply trains of the whole Division
were on the same road. A Field Hospital
had sprung up along the road where
ambulences and trucks brought their
cargoes of wounded. The road, except
on the corduroy was soft and muddy.
Frequently we had to push and lift to
help the horses move them. At dawn
we arrived at Bourneilles, the first village
captured by our men the morning
before. Here we got on the main road, a well built highway.
Many high Division officers were
frantically trying keep [sic] traffic
moving. This road had been badly
battered by shells and we found
as we moved up the Germans had
blown it up in a small gully causing
a great crater possibly 50 ft. wide and
30 ft. deep. Our engineers were busy
constructing a bridge over it. Meanwhile,
we drove around it over soggy field.
There were two solid lines of traffic from Bourneilles
to Varrennes [sic] moving very slowly in the
broad day light. If the Germans had
opened up with artillery on this road,
it would have been too bad, but,fortunately for us, their attention
was kept elsewhere. Their more
immediate concern was to try to stop
the general American advance.
It was noon when we arrived
at Varennes. It had taken us six hours
to move about three kilometers. This
was an important rail head for the
Germans for four years. They had
dug caves on the steep side of the
hill able accomodate [sic] thousands
of men, safe from shell or bomb. Our
infantry had taken several hundred
prisoners here on the first morning of
the drive. We followed along narrow
gauge railroad up a
narrow small valley
and bivouaced [sic]. A picket line for
the horses was made. The men dug
in on the hill side sloping away
from the enemy. I selected a fresh shell
hole made by our own barrage a
few nights before for my quarters.
I put my shelter tent over it and spread
my bedding roll. This was not bad
until it rained, when I had trouble
keeping my feet within the limits of protection
offered by the pup tent. As it developed,
we were destined stay [sic] in this position
for almost two weeks.
A Hot Reception.
Lt. Braddock who was the Regimental
Supply Officer, told me to load up four
mess carts with food and take them up
immediately to the next town which our men had
just only recently captured. It was about
mid afternoon when my detail was
ready with two horses in each cart
and a heavy load on each. The town
Montblainville, is located on a plateau
east of the forest and surrounded
by what might have been beautiful
fields. We followed the road which led
up a rather steep incline to the
town. I realized at once that this was
not a very healthy place in broad day
light. I inquired about the location
of the units of our Regiment. They had
pushed on toward Apremont. A
German airplane flew over
rather low and with bursts of
machine gun signaled to his
artillery. I ordered my drivers
to pull up close along a stone
wall which supported a terrace
This was executed not a moment too soon.
A shell landed in front of us. Now two!
three! many! A barrage was upon
I held on to my horse by the bridle and
leaned against the wall as if to hold
it up. This reception lasted for what
seemed hours. The air was filled
with showering fragments of earth.
stone, and shell and black with smoke
and dust. Stones began to fall from
the wall. This kept up for about
fifteen minutes really when the barrage
stopped as suddenly as it had started.
I slowly ventured from the wall
to check up on the damage
and found one of our horses in a cart
dead and several slightly wounded
and a cart badly damaged. That
we escaped with as little damage
as this, was almost miraculous
considering the amount of hardware
Fritz had sent over. The stone wall
seven feet high had been our salvation.
The shells came at so low an
angle that they either struck befoe
reaching us or went over to the
other side of the street. As I walked
down the road to gather up my men
a whiz-bang crossed in front of me
(a small projectile named because of its sound) and exploded in bank [sic] of earth on the
side. The Germans were still too
close for comfort. We unloaded the carts
and sent them back. The food had to
be carried for which purpose details were sent.
There was no mistaking about this
barrage. It was meant expressly for my
mess carts. We had been seen coming up
and the airplane gave the battery our
location. This the first of three occasions when
I or my detail were the target for the
German artillery during the Argonne
On the next forenoon I went up again
to see Col. Martin. I walked this time and
found him with his Regimental Hqs. in
a dugout along a ravine halfway between
Montblainville and Appremont. [sic] They were
feasting on rabbits which the Germans
had left behind on their retreat.
By the way Incidentally
the German Division whom we had fought
back was composed of Landswehr from
Wurtemberg. Col. Martin told me that
our forces were not in possession of
Appremont [sic] the next town farther down the
Aire [sic] Valley. Thus our provisions from now
had to be taken there. Coming back I
crossed an open plateau and came to a
large tree under which there was a
small shrine. Here I was joined by
a soldier who was going the same
tree and shrine when a shell whizzed
over us and exploded about 75 yards beyond
us. Where the next one buzzed more viciously
than the first and exploded much closer, we
flopped down on the ground knowing that
they were speaking to us. A third one
came, also very close. I could hear the
gun that fired it. It came from the woods
seemed strange since our lines were
several miles ahead of this point to the north.
Our general direction of advance was northward.
I found out afterwards that the 77th Divison
on our left had not been able to keep up
with us in the advance. Of course, they
had hard going through the midst of
Argonne Forest, and we had more open
country along the Aire River. The 35th
Div. on our right was also slightly
in back of us. We were now holding
a salient, a big dent, forward in the American line. For
several days it was impossible to advance
until the others came up.
We lay still for about ten minutes.
until the firing had ceased and got up
and left the road and travelled through
a grassy field unmolested. We saw
numberous corpses of both sides attesting
to the fighting here a day or two ago.
At Montblainville I met a boyhood friendof mine, Cyrus Peters. He was going up to
join the 109th Hospital Corps. I had a short
chat with him and later after the armistice
he wrote to me telling that he came through
safely. Casualties were exceedingly heavy on
The Germans evidently tried to take
their own dead to the rear on their retreat.
Near Charpentry I saw a wagon loaded
with dead bodies. In their haste they
had to leave them behind.
The Supply Co. stayed in their
position in the ravine above Varennes
all during this campaign. Lts. Braddock
and Dubs (replacing officers of the CO.) had their headquarters in a
German dugout deep in the side of
the hill. They seldom ventured away
from here except to eat. This dugout
life kept them safe from enemy
shells but not from an other more
subtle enemy, the influenza from
which both died shortly afterward.
There was a world wide epidemic
of the flu prevalent at this time.
Those of us out in the open found out
very little about it.
The Germans shelled us occasionally
in our position. One afternoon a shell
came over, killing one of the men. Several
of us were standing on the narrow
one came toward us and struck the
higher ground directly in front of us.
It threw ground all over us but none
of us were hurt. When the smoke had
cleared away we saw a horse and
a mule lying in their dying gasps,
fully as far away from the point of
explosion as we were. This was another
miraculous escape from death or injury.
Lt. Montgomery Dilworth of Connellsville
now took turns with me nightly to deliver
rations to the front line. Dilworth
and I here because fast friends and
had much in common until long
after the armistice. He was very kind,
reliable and resourceful as well as
quiet, unassumming and clean cut.
We took one of our rolling kitchens
(cook stove with wagon wheels) to Montblainville
so as to be closest to the front with hot
food. We located it in a shed near the
point where several days before I had
received such an unmerciful shelling.
On the second day the Germans again let
loose on the spot. Some cooks were
killed while peeling potatoes and
walls of the shed were knocked down,
the debris completely covering the
For several days our regiment was
located in or in front of Appremont. Here
it was comparatively easy to deliver rations
at night from Montblainville. Now, however
the 1st Division came in on our right
relieving the 35th and pushed ahead to
Fleville and beyond Exermont and it again
became possible for the 28th to advance.
The Division to our left was still far
behind in the forest. In order to take
the next town Chatel-Chehery, our Div.
crossed to east side of the Aire river
and advanced until opposite the town
at night early in the morning recrossed the stream
and captured the town.
Over the Top with Ration Carts
This manouver made it most
difficult for us to get supplies to our men.
On the night during which my regiment was on the
left right side of the river, I crossed at
Appremont with ration carts thru [sic] the water
and followinged a long straight road
northward. It was very dark only the
white road was quite visible. It was
unusually quiet that night. We
kept on going forward hoping to find
our men. There was not a sign of
any one about. The road was altogether
clear. Now I felt as though had [sic] gone
far enough without knowing where
we were. I halted the carts and
I spoke every now and then hoping for
a reply. Finally, I came to a new trench in
which the men were just getting ready
for the night. I asked what outfit they
belonged to and they told me the 110th but
what was I doing out there; this is the
front line. I now saw how thinly
our front line was held and that it
would have been an easy matter for
us to have gone on with our rations
into the German lines. Imagine the
welcome we would have received there,
since their supplies were running low.
I brought the carts around and
soon found main [sic] body of the regiment
in small dugouts at "The Forge". I had
to crawl on hands and knees to get
into headquarters. Here I found Gen.
Nolan of 55th Brigade just as he was
talking over the field telephone to an
artillery commander telling him in
strong language that he was d_____ sick
and tired of having his men fight the
Germans by day and then leave them
shot up by our own artillery by night.
Evidently our artillery fire was falling
within our own lines. This was not
the only time that happened. I delivered
my rations and made my way backto the kitchen.
Barrage at the Crater
Next night was Dilworth's turn and
the follwing mine again. It was
a wet night, drizzle and rain alternating. Took
three carts loaded with food one for each
of the three battalions. At Appremont
I stopped at Brigade Headquarters in a
cellar under a battered down church and
from Maj. Rhoads, whom I well knew
from Camp Hancock, I learned that our
regiment now had taken Chatel
Chehery several kilometers ahead
on the left side of the Aire River.
He showed me on his map the
road leading there. He failed to tell
me that the road was not open all
the way. He did not know.
We went on our way following
the road out of Appremont, passed [sic] a stone
then on over the open
road with the broad river flood plain on
our right and hills on our left. At last
we came to a small ravine where
to our dismay we were stopped by
a large crater. The Germans had
blown up the road making it impossible
to get horses and carts any further. Our
carts had made plenty of noise on the
I told the sergeants to find their
battalions and have the food carried
the rest of the way. Just then a shell
whined and exploded in the ravine below
us. I at once realized that the enemy
artillery had this spot marked and an
observer had probably heard us coming
up but waited until we had arrived
at the crater before giving the signal
to fire. I quickly ordered the drivers
to move back along the road for 100 yards
and wait there. Before this was executed
fully a barrage of shells was upon
us. Blinding flashes of exploding shells,
buzzing splinters, the air full of dirt
thrown up, and smoke made the
darkness a fury of hell. Prompt
execution of my orders to pull away
saved the horses and carts. The barrage
stopped. We checked up on our men.
A sergeant had been badly wounded,
and one man lay apparently dead,
and several others slightly injured.
We loaded the injured
dead on a cart which we had unloaded and sent them back
to a dressing station in Appremont.
Now to find the regiment inor about the town ahead. I took a
sergeant with me and set out to find
them. It started to rain and the
darkness now was so thick you could
almost feel it. We groped our way
along and came to a road fork which
I could not recall having seen on
the map. One led northward and
the other northwestward. There was
practically no firing now and we
were puzzled as to which way to go.
After my experience of few [sic] nights
before, having about gone over
through our thin lines to the Germans,
I did not relish taking a chance.
So we waited at the roadside for some
sign of life. Soon
low conversation above us to our
left in the woods. We listened to
hear what language was spoken.
At first we could not tell whether it
was English or German. We did not
have to wait long before we heard it
was mostly profane and we could understand
it so they were Americans.
The sergeant and I then took the road
to the left and soon came to outskirts of
the town. Just then a heavy shower of
rain let loose. It was hard to see anything
lightning which for an instant gave us
a view ahead. We aimed to keep in
the middle of the road. I walked up
against a large dark object and almost
fell over it. This proved to be a dead horse.
Finally we groped our way toward a
ray of light emanating from the door
of a house. Here we found some of the
officers of our reigment and soon
procured a detail of men to go back and
bring up the rations.
We made our way back to the carts
and turned over to the carrying detail the "chow" which had been
hot when we started out in the evening
but cold now. It
was midnight now and we started
back to the kitchen at Montblainville with
the mess carts. On the way I stopped
at Col. Edward Martin's headquarters in
the dugout behind Appremont to report
the events of the evening and the delivery of the
rations feeling as though I had done a
hard job successfully getting the food through.
Col. Martin thought that was fine and
immediately ordered me to get another
hot meal ready and get it up to them
before daybreak. I explained to him that
practically all the food we had on hand
was used up until the next day's issue
came up. He then told me to get something
ready if it was only hot coffee and take
it to them. He promised to have a detail
me at five o'clock to carry it to the lines.
I had received a tough assignment.
When I got back to the kitchen all the
cooks, of course, had long sought their
dugouts for the night's sleep. It was
now about three o'clock and I had
to search in the dark for the dugouts to
locate a cook to make the coffee.
Finally I located one and after much
trouble got him awake and on the job.
It was about 5 o'clock when the coffee
was ready and we loaded it on a cart
together with what little bread I could
find and started forward with one driver.
We came to Col. Martin's Hqs. and asked
the guard for our carrying detail which the Colonel
had promised to have ready for me. None
was to be found and Colonel was asleep
and when the guard asked him about it
he had forgotten all about it. He sent
the guard to gather up some men. I
waited for half an hour and the guard
came back saying that he couldn't find
any men excepting sick and wounded.
Dawn was approaching and I
knew I could wait no longer. So I
started with no one but my driver
hoping to pick up some men on the
way. We drove through Appremont and
on to the quarry. It was broad daylight
view of the enemy. I found several men
of our regiment here and put them to
work helping to carry from here. They
took a large can each and I took a
smaller one and the bread, and on
we went two kilometers to Chatel Chehery.
There was little shelling now and we
passed the crater where we were punished
the night before without interruption
and delivered our meager breakfast
to our outfit. Little as it was it was
welcome for they had hard and dangerous
work that morning driving the Germans
from the surrounding hills. Their work
here forced the Germans to evacuate
the Argonne Forest.
On the way back to the kitchen I
saw elements of the 82nd Division on their
way up. This was a sign that we were to
be relieved. This was Oct. 9th. We had been
continuously engaged in battle for two weeks
and very little of the infantry was left. When
I came back to the Supply Co., my first thought
was to get some rest which I had neglected
altogether for two days and nights. I
ate something and crawled into my
rain soaked bed in the shell hole and
slept until the next morning.
Oct. 10th we received orders to
move the Supply train up to Montblainville
up with the remnants of our
regiment. We moved up through a muddy
of the big guns in their emplacements left
behind by Fritz on his retreat. These were
some of those that had barked at us
some days before. We found our infantry
but my! what a weary, wornout, and
decimated regiment. Some of the companies
consisted of a squad or two only.
When we begin the Argonne attack
several weeks before we had at 2500 men
in the regiments; now the numbers had
dwindled down to about 300 fighting men.
We fed them well. It was their first real hot
meal they had in all those weeks.
The next day we started to the rear to
be re-organized and sent to another front.
I started off with the heavy baggage wagons
through Varennes and Neuvilly. Here we found
the roads fearly [sic] congested with traffic going
up. If the German guns and airplane had
opened up on us here the carnage would
have been indescribable. In the early
afternoon we came to a place where some
colored troops working on the roads had
their kitchens. We stopped here to feed and
water our horses and try to get some
food for ourselves. These colored boys
certainly fed us royally with well prepared
food. Their cooks knew to feed their men.
We moved on and next came to a
field hospital. Here we stopped to see if we
could find some of our friends who had
been wounded. We found a few of them
but when we walked through the graveyard
crosses with names of men from our
regiment. We watched them bury a
number of dead Americans and Germans
as well. A short funeral service was read
over the bodies of friend and foe alike as
they were lowered in their graves. The [sic] were
enemies no longer. They all had given
their lives for their country. For them the
war was over but not for us. We left
somewhat heavy hearted, feeling that sooner
or later some of us would go the same
way in the conflict.
We went on turning eastward
toward St. Mihiel. We had heavy rains
on the way. On the second day of our journey
we crossed the beautiful Meuse River and
came into the old St. Mihiel trench lines
where the French had held the Germans
for four years. It was a dreary spectacle.
The earth was all torn up. Fields were
full of barbed wire and the trees were
mere wrecked stumps. The town Seicheprey
was nothing but a few shattered walls
with dugouts underneath. We located
in a small town north of Toul. Here
we received many replacements to refill
While here Capt. Braddock and Lt.
Dubs our commanding officers of the
Supply Co. took sick with the "flu"and
day died on the same day. This left
me in Command of the Company until
1st Lieut Dilworth was assigned to the
all the time until long after the armistice.
It was pleasant to work with him. We
inspected the entire 109th regiment
together, a job assigned to us by the
brigade commander and for which we
were highly commended. We were to
ascertain whether they had sufficient
clothing and equipment for a new
campaign which was being planned.
It took us a number of days to get
around over a large area to all their
units. He made a typewritten inventory.
A Quiet Front
After this work was completed the Regiment
was ordered to the front beyond Hendicourt
facing toward Metz, a German fortified
city. We moved northward, passed
near Mont Sec and located our Supply
Train in a beautiful woods called the
Bois de Creue. Here we found excellent
stables for the horses and five well built
bungalows for the men. The Germans had
built all this and lived very comfortably
for four years until the Americans
came. This was located in the St. Mihiel
salient. Three of us, Dilworth, Lt. Woodward
Taylor (a new assignment to the Supply Co.) and I took a bungalow with
a nicely furnished living room for our
office and a good sized bedroom with
three iron cots for our sleeping quarters.
War was never like this before. Here
we stayed until long after the armistice.
The best part of it was that we were rarely
time. It was a well wooded area, and we
could move about and handle our supplies
without being observed by the enemy.
There was very little activity here.
Our infantry occupied a defensive sector
and did little but hold the lines and make
a raid once in a while. We placed our
rolling kitchens close to the companies,
and all we had to do was to take
the supplies up to them. In the evenings
it was still necessary to show no light to
prevent the enemy planes from locating us.
One evening we hauled a raiding party to
front lines in supply wagons. The raid
was not a big success since the Germans
were ready for our party, consequently
we lost more prisoners than we took
and sustained numerous other casualties.
A New Drive Planned.
A narrow gauge railroad was laid
along the main road toward front. Supplies
and ammunition were brought in large
quantities. A new Division moved in on
our left. These preparations clearly
indicated big doings approaching. We
received orders to attack shortly in
the direction of Metz, the mighty fortified
city. On the 10th of November our orders
came to attack on the morning of the
After dark a German plane
dropped bright flares in our neighborhood.
of his dreadful bombs but
We had heard rumors of an impending
armistice. Probably Fritz paid us
a friendly call
the slaughter was about to end. We
however had no such assurance
but instead were ordered to attack
in the morning. We went to sleep with
the same dread of impending hardship
and falling comrades as before all previous
Early the morning of the eleventh Dilworth
and I went over to Regimental Hq. for orders.
It was about daybreak when we got there
and the Adjutant announced that he
had received an order declaring an armistice
and hoped that this order would stick since
several days before a rumor of an armistice
proved unfounded. However, now he
had the documentary evidence that
all hostilities were to cease at 11 o'clock.
But meanwhile all attack orders
were to be carried out until that time.
Consequently the 109th Inf. had already
gone over the top to attack and at 9 A.M.
the 110th was to leap frog them and
continue the onsloaught. Some how the
110th never succeeded in the leap frogging
As the 11th hour approached cannonading
increased rather than subsided. During
off with feverish rapidity. It sounded like
the barrage on the opening of the Argonne drive.
They evidently were using their ammunition on
hand. On the minute of eleven o'clock all
was quiet--so quiet that it seemed as though death
had overtaken everything. Somebody spoke.
Yes, we were still alive. It did not seem
real--this silence--after five months of continuous
The wounded still kept on coming during
the day. The dead had to be buried--the poor
unfortunates who had gone through it until
the last few hours of the conflict and then had
to get theirs. Such a fate!
In the afternoon we found out from
the Germans, who came over with watches
and any trinkets they had trying to get food with
them, that famine and revolution had broken
out behind them. On the next day many
Russian prisoners who had been set free
by the Germans came across and had to be
fed. Before many days some of our own
men who had been captured came back
with tales of disaster behind the German lines.
On the evening of the eleventh we could
hardly convince ourselves that now
right in the open. Many rockets and
flares lit up the sky in the evening. We
were happy and yet we were not altogether
natural, feeling that it was only an
armistice and any time some one might
start firing again. That evening Lieut.
Taylor suggested that we play bridge. he was
the only that [sic] could play. So he taught us,
including Lt. Dilworth, Lt. Sullivan (vet. corps)
and myself. This game furnished pastime
many an evening after this.
About a week after the armistice we
turned in all our horses and mules. They had
been badly worn. Now we received fine
newly arrived American stock. What a contrast
with the mediocre and nondescript animals we had before!
We had heavy draught, light draught, and
fine riding horses now. We should have had
them long ago. Orders were given to clean
up wagons, harness and all equipment. This
was hard too [sic] do because of the rains and mud.
Time began to drag and we wished they would
take us home at once, but the transporting
organization and machinery had to be reversed.
Everything was geared to move forward only.
The Division did not get home until April.
Early in December Dilworth and I were
granted a ten day
10 leave to go to Nice on the Mediterranean.
This was a glorious anticipation as well
as realization. We went to Toul by truck, to Paris
by train and stayed overnight at the Hotel du Louvre.
This was heavenly--to undress and sleep between
sheets in a real and warm bed. We set our
shoes and puttees outside of the door to have
the mud of the Lorraine removed. In the morning
we thought we looked slick with shined footgear,
but at breakfast we saw many officers of the
Paris army (those who fought the war far behind the lines)
who were flawless in dress from head to foot,
and we felt more like boys from the country.
We boarded a P.L.M. (Paris, Lyons and Mediterranean)
train. We stopped off at Marseilles and saw
a show in which Gaby de Lys and Harry Pilcer
were the main actors. We spent the night
at a hotel and in the morning went on to Nice.
On the train which was much crowded, we
met a French Princess (she looked like a fine old
grandmother) who, seeing that we were very tired, allowed us to sit in her
She told us that next week Pres. Wilson was
Scheduled to stay at her sister's mansion in Paris
(Princess Murat). Now we had something to talk
about when we got back to our outfit. "We had
hobnobbed with royalty" as Lt. Burch put it.
nice. Palms, flowers, and fruits were abundant.
The first morning we had breakfast served in
bed. We tried to make up for lost time in sleep.
Outside of the hotel a serenader played and sang.
When he struck "Santa Lucia" with all his
might I had to get up and toss a franc to him.
We visited Monaco and its museum, Monte
Carlo, Meutone, and the Italian border. I,
incidentally, had some dental work done which
proved to be a bad job and I had to have done all
Army of Occupation.
Army of Occupation
After we came back to the Bois de Creue
we found our regiment had moved forward
as a part of the Army of Occupation to Conflans
and Briey which been occupied by the Germans.
This is an iron region in the northeastern part
of France near Luxemburg. Here our men
had to clean out the villages. The Germans
had kept horses on the first floor of houses
while the men slept upstairs. Horse manure
was hauled out by wagon load from these
houses. The men grumbled at the dirty
job of cleaning the enemies' mess.
I had to supervise the distribution
of rations to the soldiers located in small groups
at about 10 different villages. Along came Christmas
smokes and sweets. The ration car did
not arrive until late in the day; consequently
I had to work far into the night to deliver
food for Xmas to scattered the [sic] detachments.
It started to snow in the evening and
my role as Santa Claus would have been
perfect if I had had a sleigh instead of
a small truck. It was close to midnight
before I was through and ready for
Merry Christmas. Christmas day was
bleak, wet, and cheerless. There was
little to remind one of the usual happiness
of this day. We had what was said to be a goose for dinner at
the officer's mess, but it must have been
an undernourished gosling because the
portions were so small that the tongue
almost failed to catch the taste of it.
"When are we going home" was the
question constantly in the soldier's
mind. Early in January 1919, we were relieved from
the Army of Occupation and travelled back
overland southward thru Conflans, Mars la Tour,
Toul to Allain near Colombey-les-Belles.
Here we were crowded into small villages
sleeping in barns, hay lofts, sheepfolds, pigpens,
and woodsheds. It became very cold for several
weeks with considerable snow. Some of the
men suffered considerably from cold with their two
at Commercy after which I was put in
charge a [sic] rebellious supply detachment at
Crepey. They were filled with rum and refused
to clean up wagons and harnesses for a
horse show and general inspection. I
sent the ring leaders away on detached
service after which the rest went to
work with the hope of going home soon. I was
a judge along with "Gommey" Dilworth, at
the 109th Reg. Horse Show.
late in Feb. I was called to Headquarters and was given
an order, sending me to the University
of Montpellier for four months. I could
have shouted for joy. What a relief to get
out of this mud and dirt and unpleasant
driving of reluctant men to go to sunny
Southern France to school. Now the
war was really over for me.
Early the next morning I left
with bag and baggage for Paris, short five
days there having dental work done, and,
then took the P.L. and M. for Montpellier and
the finest vacation I ever had or ever will
have. During the four months at the
University I took advantage of opportunities
to travel over southern France (Avignon, Nimes,
Arles, Aigues-Mortes, Bette, Beziers, Perpignan, Pyrenees
, Spanish Border, Toulouse, Marseilles). I roomed with
Lieut. Deim in a beautiful house with M. and Mme. Parrau
I managed to get rid of all traces the effects
of mustard gas. My cough disappeared. I cleaned
up in general and again took on the ways
of civilized living. I attended classes in
French, International Law, and Botany. I
was athletic officer of American School
Detachment and coached track.
The school closed on June 30th, Deim
and I were ordered to report to St. Nazaire
to embark for home, but we had ten days
to get there. So we toured on the way. We
visited Chamounix, climbed Mont Blanc
part way, went to Paris, saw the Inter-
Allied games (like the Olympics), then to
Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, Nantes, Orleans, Tours, and thence
to St. Nazaire. From here we were sent to Brest
for a boat. We had to wait there until
we were assigned to a
boat ship. I waited
over three weeks before I was assigned
to the Northern Pacific. This fast boat
brought us to New York in less than
During the sixteen months in France
as a U.S. soldier I saw France at its worst--
when the war was almost lost, I did my bit
which was far from sensational, and I saw France
after the war far away from the battle front. I have
no regrets for my experiences but I am
thankful to be back unharmed in the happy U.S.A.
The Mistral Yearbook
The Mistral is the yearbook of the American School Detachment of the American Expeditionary Forces stationed at the University of Montpellier in the spring and early summer of 1919. It is the only yearbook produced among the several groups of soldier-students stationed at institutions across France.