|The Doughboys & Camp Greene
Soldier's Diary : Chapter 19 - "Out for a Rest"
|October 21, 1918
The company rolls full pack and leaves camp at 8:30 a. m. on the march. We pass through Bohain and Brancourt, stopping for the night at Montebrain. Here a Y. M. C. A. canteen is open, but only writing paper, magazines, and a few old papers can be secured from it, as they have sold out all the smokes and eats. We are billeted in some old buildings that have missed total destruction from the German shells. We are tired out from the long march and we go to bed immediately after supper.
October 22, 1918
We leave Montebrain early in the morning and continue our march. We pass through Bellicourt late in the afternoon, the town the division first captured in its recent campaigns. It shows the effects of war on every building the English and Australian barrage and the German counter-barrage doing great damage. Roisel is reached at sundown after a twenty-kilometer hike! We billet in tin huts on the edge of this town, which use to be a prosperous one. It is a worst condition than Bellicourt, having been under shell fire a longer time. There are lots of soldiers stationed in and around this place.
October 23, 1918
We marched from Roisel to Tincourt, leaving the later place early in the morning and reaching Tincourt a little after 2 p. m. We are assigned to some nearby dug-outs as the captain thinks that we will have to wait a few hours for our train. We march to the station at 7 p. m., which is a kilometer's distance. It is nearly 12 o'clock before we load on our train.
October 24, 1918
It is 1 a. m. before we leave Tincourt for the rear, riding in the "Soldiers' Special," better known as box cars and often use to transport cattle and horses in. We get off of the train at a siding near a shell wrecked village early in the morning and hike to La Houssoys, over 12 kilometers away, where we are billeted in vacant homes and old barns. We are at this village to take rest after having been in the lines since the latter part of September. The estaminents are crowded until 10 p. m. with fellows who buy almost anything the French have to sell in the way of drinks and food. The guards close the estaminents at 10 p. m. The second battalion of our regiment is stationed in this town.
October 25, 1918
I am detailed by the first sergeant to help the supply sergeant all day. The platoon sergeants check their platoon's equipment shortage and the supply sergeant and I check it all and make out a report to the captain. We then put in a requisition for the articles needed to equip the company. I am on guard at the kitchen from 6 p. m. to 10 p. m. and then another sentry relieves me.
October 26, 1918
The company drills on a large aviation field near the village in the morning. The first, second, and third platoons go to Pont Noyelles in the afternoon and get a bath. The fourth platoon goes to the same place but fails to get a bath as there are too many men ahead of us. Learning we cannot get a bath at this time the platoon sergeant marches us back to La Houssoys. We have a fire-place in our building and some of the fellows are frying eggs and potatoes bought from the French. Bread can also be bought from the people. We buy straw from the French farmers and with this make our beds more comfortable. For the first time in several weeks we have an opportunity to sleep on straw beds. Each fellow takes his turn in bringing in wood for the fire.
October 27, 1918
The fourth platoon goes to Pont Noyelles in the morning and gets a bath. Our clothes are run through a delouser while we are taking a bath. It takes 45 minutes for our clothes to be deloused but only five minutes for us to take a bath. As it is Sunday we are excused from all duties in the afternoon. I stroll about the village sight-seeing.
October 28, 1918
The company drills from 8 to 11:30 a. m. In the afternoon there are athletic games between the platoons. The French civilians come out to the field and watch us play our games. There is to be a divisional athletic meet soon to decide who shall represent the division in the field meet between the 27th and 30th divisions to be held early in November. We get a paper now, The Daily Mail, which is printed in London. It tells us of a few of the latest happenings of the war.
October 29, 1918
I go on the sick report at 8 a. m. and am marked light duty. The first sergeant puts me on the kitchen police for the morning. There is a battalion review at 4:30 p. m., the battalion being reviewed by the battalion adjutant. I am on guard during the night for four hours guarding a company prisoner. Two other fellows are on guard with me each one of them guarding four hours.
October 30, 1918
Am excused from all duties as I was on guard during the night. I spend all of the morning in estaminents writing letters to friends and relatives in the states. In the afternoon I go to Pont Noyelles where the division "Y" canteen is, and buy some things for myself and two other fellows in my canteen squad. Smokes and canned fruits are cheaper at this canteen than at the one we have in our village. The company drills all the morning and in the afternoon the platoons have several athletic games.
October 31, 1918
The company drills in the morning and in the afternoon practice several games to be in the divisional contest. The company has a good tug-of-war team and it practices every day so it will be able to beat any other team in the division and get a chance at the 27th division's tug-of-war team. One of the sergeants of the company is carried up in an English 'plane in the afternoon.
November 1, 1918
The company works until 1 p. m. at a rifle range that is six kilometers from La Houssoys. We are excused from all duties in the afternoon, and I take advantage of this time to write to the folks at home. While at the rifle range I got several pieces of German money and other souvenirs by giving the German prisoners cigarettes. There are scores of German prisoners working on the range.
November 2, 1918
The company again works at the rifle range, returning to La Houssoys at 2 p. m. In the afternoon the company goes to Pont Noyelles and gets a bath. The estaminents are crowded at night. Rumors of the signing of peace are beginning to leak out.
November 3, 1918
As it is Sunday we are excused from all formations, the cooks and K. P.'s being the only ones that work. It is a beautiful day and I visit Pont Noyelles, staying at this place all day. I try to talk with some French girls but fail to carry on much of a conversation, as I can only understand and speak a few words of their language. Several of the fellows go to Amiens and spend the day.
November 4, 1918
The field meet between the 27th and 30th divisions start at 10 a. m. The 30th division wins the boxing contest, while the 27th division wins the foot and mule races. The meet lasts until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. After the meet is over for the day we march back to our billets. After supper the chief talk is about the field meet; the foot and mule races and the boxing contests. It was a great day for us fellows. There were thousands of soldiers from both divisions at this meet, each division cheering its participants. There were also scores of French civilians and a few English soldiers.
November 5, 1918
Despite the drizzling rain that comes down all day, the second and last day of the field meet between the two divisions is held, the 27th division being declared the winner. I am unable to attend the meet as I am detailed to work in the officers' quarters by the first sergeant. I work in the morning and in the afternoon. I go to the 118th them in we had to give them a good infantry headquarters to visit a cousin of mine who I had been unable to see since coming to France. He works at these headquarters and I have little trouble finding him. These headquarters are four kilometers away. It is dark before I return to my billet in La Houssoye.
November 6, 1918
It rains all the morning and afternoon. The first sergeant details me to help haul wood for the sergeants' mess and for the company kitchen. We complete this job in the morning and are excused in the afternoon from further work. Three of us fellows from the fourth platoon are on guard during the night guarding a company prisoner, each of us guarding four hours. I write to friends and relatives in the states in the afternoon.
November 7, 1918
Several of us fellows are detailed by the first sergeant in the morning to load two wagons with tools. We are to leave La Houssoye at an early date and go to a place near where we were relieved by the English. Having finished our work in the morning we are excused in the afternoon from work. Rumors that the Germans have signed the armistice are gaining wide circulation in the village. The French say the Germans have signed and they sing and celebrate until late in the estaminents.