Note: This diary was transcribed letter for letter by Harry’s granddaughter. Any misspelling is intentional.
Harry was from Grand Haven
Military Diary of Harry J. Baggott.
I entered the service from
Oct 7th. Transferred to CoB310th Engineers
Bourded train at
July 12th train stopped and we paraded the
streets of Scranton Penn. Arrived at
July 13th got “overseas” examaanation and more equipment today.
July 15th Very hot here. Yet examed, every day
July 20th Went down this evening to Hemstead Long Island.
July 21st were called at . From tents, ate lunch, and we were on our way to train for transport. bourded a tug at . which toke us to the Army transport pier. Walked up the gang plank of the British steamer “Grampian” at . Ship left the wharf and went toward the mouth of the harbor where it dropped anchor for the night.
Mon-July 22th The ship lifted anchor at sharply 6:00am. And went writ to sea.
July 24th 2 days out of
Aug 1st quite a storm raging today. lots of sea sickness. myself not sick a bit. English destroyers come out to escort us thru rub, infested writers.
Aug 2nd Just off coust of
Aug 3rd Arrived in the
Aug 4th Waited at depot from until 1-30 AM. of the 4th for train very tired slep on side walk. Arrived at 8:30 AM same day at Camp ‘Cow Shot’ Bissley-Surrey.
Aug 8th training like “H---,gas attacks, byonets, practice shams battles, etc.
Aug 16th On pass to
Aug 19th 2 girls from
Aug 25th broke camp at and hiked to train. Bourded train at of the
26th and we were off.
After 16 hr ride we get off train at and load on transport the British
steamer (J) (S)
Aug 28th very cold today, some snow. Destroyers turn back. We are now alone.
Aug 30th We entered the
Sept 1st In the Arctic ocean rounding the North
Sept 3rd Out of
Sept 4th dropped anchor in
Sept 5th Ship lifts anchor pulls down the river 7 miles to “Bakaritzia”
All troops leave ships. The Infantry battalion of 4 companies
load in box cars imeaditetly for all night ride to front. Our
Sept 7th (gsl?) of the guard tonight
Guarding a quanity of gun cotton on the wharves (High explosives) Lots of Scotch whiskey being stolen from English.
Sept 15th Building latrine and barracks. And also cleaning up the Russians filth.
Oct 2nd Our platoon loaded on a scow at 10 P.M. Towed by Russian tug. This is sure a wild night. Raining and cold. Northern lights very visible. We reach Solombia about or shortly after. We were drenched to the skin. Slept in some little old shacks for the night which formily held german prisonors of war.
Oct 3rd Early this morning we went down to the scow and unloaded it. Birsile our equipment 900 rolls of barbed wire. Severe snowstorm first of season. Rec’ first mail from states.
Oct 6th Sunday Just opened up YMCA in a large building of the late Czar. Raining hard. Some congregation of men “frogs’ “Yanks” “ Russians” “ Scotts” “Tommies” “Canucks” and Italions.
Oct 10th Building barracks for the new Russian army. Weather very cold.
Oct 21st Had some dental work done. 8 inches of snow on the level. Getting awoful poor food. Bully beef and hard tack, day in and day out. English and Americans don’t seem to “hitch” but nothing fort on account of that Everyone has the “Russian blues”. One never dreamed of such a life. British Slabrich legion with quite a number of Russian peasants but they are Boloshirkis at heart. A hard tack can be sold for 10 reubles (1.00) American money. But the money has no value, there is absolutely nothing to buy.
Oct 28th Snowing like H--. Epidemic spreads
amongst the Russians and many die. Perhaps it’s the “flu”. Seen
as high as 13 piled on a wagon headed for cemetery. Rec’ letter from
Oct 31st Sent a cable gram home today costing 42 rubles and 84 Kopels. Sgt. “Sallie” heard from on this date. The English ordered him and detail to dig gun pits for Canadian artillery. Russians in their quarters across from the ones we are building mutiny and kick their officers out. The Americans were ordered to turn machine guns on the building for them to come out and surrender. After quite a few got “plucked” they did. Finaly 13 confessed ring leaders of the mutiny were backed to the wall and machine gun turned on them. British battleship in river had guns trained on them but did not think it nessasury to fire.
Nov 5th Our platoon left Salombolia for Bakaritzia today. Weather very cold.
Nov 6th We are now making box cars bulletproof by making a wall inside and filling the space with sand. Americans and “Limmies” (English) get into a lot mix ups. Not much friendship existing between us.
Nov 8th Rec’ first mail from home dated Sept 11th.
Nov 10th Sunday Rec’ heavy clothing today. Sleeping bags, shackelton shoes, sheepskin coats, and heavy fur caps.
Nov 22nd Very cold today, way below zero. Snow very deep.
Nov 26th 18 below zero, snow very deep. Moved in box cars today to go to railroad front. Another fine trip, trying to put windows and doors on box cars when
train is on the move. Arrived at Verst “455” at . 145
Verst (90 miles) south of
Nov 27th Bolshurks getting livily. French armored train next to us open up heavy bombardment. The 4th of July can’t compare with this awful noise.
Nov 28th Weather milder today. This is Thanksgiving day. It’s alright but a hard tack does satisfy our appetites.
Dec 19th 19 below today. Again the Russian troops mutiny.
Dec 21st Shortest day of year about 3 hours daylight. 23 degrees below today. 12 of us are left here to finish up the barrack making for the “Y”. The rest of the platoon gone back to “Verst 466” “11 Verst” 62 miles. Sent mail down on train. Rec’ mail from Ken, red cross and Art.
Dec 23rd We finished the “Y” barraks and going back to rejoin rest of platoon at “466”. Our box car ran off track due to the ice froze over the rails. Delayed 5 hr. No one injured.
Dec 26th Planning big drive. French legion, British legion, “Liverpools” and Our Co. “B” comprising the force to attack “Bolosheirfies. Every 2 men has a sled with tent and snow shoes, and also rifles, machine guns, grenades and gun cotton to blow up their positions. Oh yes we wont forget to mention the “bully” and “hardtacks”. After 3 days of floundering around in the snow in the woods, the drive is called off. The “Bolo” being aware of our movements. Good for us for we would be “sprouting up dasises now. They out numbered us 10 to 1. Being glad to get to the box cars, our present home.
Jan 12th Sunday The Lieut gave me orders that I was to stay at Oberzerkiga with 5 privates to be assigned to the British Royal Engineers. So we packed our junk and left boxcars. The rest of platoon went down to the front again at “455”. This is the best place that I have found to sleep yet. We all made a bed of burlap sacks. 6 Americans and 5 Englishmen and 3 Scothmen. 24 below zero today. I have about 15 Russian men and 20 women working for me. I have charge of fixing up hangars for aeroplanes for English. It snows so much it sags the tent so the planes have no show whatever of getting in or out.
I am hairing (sp?) some large girders clear across the center put it. The women keep the field clear of snow as the planes are continuasly going and coming back after bombing the bolo trenches and dugouts. I don’t take comfort anywhere with such a toothache. And oh what “blues”, snow, pine trees, and Northern lights. Some life “Whow”
Sunday Jan 19th Rec’ letter from Albert Woodard dated Nov 8th
Jan 20th Letter from John dated Nov 30th
and from F. Keeller and
Jan 28th To save myself from going crazy I finially get permission from English “Shavetail” to go back to Bakaritzia to the dentist. After a lot of red tape I get a pass to travel on train. Left at and arrived the following morning at Bakaritzia at . The passenger cars have shelves for bunks 3 high. I laid on one and it being pitch dark I knew not what or who was aside of me. On awaking in the morning I find a French soldier on my right and Russian woman on left. She must of washed her clothes in fish oil. Such an awful stench. “Phew”.
Jan 29th Had 3 teeth filled. The dentist is
half drunk on scotch whiskey. Took trip across the Dina river with Eskimo reindeer sled that
got very fast. From Bakaritria to
“Well-Well” had chance to take a bath, and did not let the chance slip
by. Toke same trip across today as I took yesterday. Don’t expect to see
Jan 31st Our platoon again loads in boxcars ready for front. Train left at station of Bakaritzia. Arrived in Isikogorka at after train took on wood, we proceded on our journey. Arrived in Obozerskaya at on the first.
Feb 3rd We
are notified a ship sank in
Feb 23rd left again at for Bakaritzia. Arrived at the following morning for 3 day rest.
Feb 28th moved in box cars again for a long trip. Left Bakaritzia at . Arrived in Kholmorvorshaya at . We unload out of box cars, pack all equipment on sleighs starting out hiking thru the thick woods at . Dark and snowing hard. Hairngon shackelton boots they were very slippery. Almost every step I took I would fall, so I took them off and hiked in stocking feet. We will never forget this night, tired and hungry.
We hiked 24 “Verst” (15 miles) and arrived at a little hut in woods called Elmetska at . Could of slept in snow so tired. The fellows all laid on floor to sleep like so much cattle. We were awakend, packed sleighs and devouring some bully and hard tacks we started out again at of the morning of the 1st. Having hiked 19 versts (11miles) we arrived at Jilno on the Durina river at 5:30 PM. 1st slept like bunch of rats that night. Cockroaches crawl all over us. Would give most any thing for something to eat.
March 2nd Left Jilno at . Going in a southerly direction. Arrived at Siskoe at 16 “verst (10 miles)
March 4th We are not hiking today, making good use of rest. Very cold.
March 5th Leaving Siskoe at . Here we encounterd a bunch of Russian recruits drilling in road. We arrived at Elmetskoe at . 24 verst. Slept in a one time school house.
March 6th Left again at . I am the advanced guard today, taking turns each day. I get “balled” out today. I got to far ahead of convoy. We reached Vzvos (26 verst) at . Another place the cockroaches are very lively.
7th Left again at 8:30 AM and arrived at Putshova 16 verst at . We put the stove in the street and heated our tea on it, very cold today.
March 8th Left at and arrived at Moryegorskaya at (20 verst)
March 9th Left and hiked (23 verst) thru a blinding snowstorm to Pianda arrived at . Ate lunch with Canadian Artillery , and we were on our way again at same day. This time we rode (12 verst) to Bresnik American Hdq. This far we have hiked (180 verst) 120 miles thru deep snow and awful cold.
March 10th Not hiking today. Boys steal lots of ‘scotch’ whiskey.
March 11th Waited in snow from until 300 afternoon for orders from British notifying us where we were to go. Left at 300 and arrived at Ust-vaga (16 verst) We are nearing the front for we are cautioned not to light matches or candles.
March 12th Have no orders to move today so are laying in. Finialy get orders and at we start out hiking again. We cross the ice of the Vaga river and arrive at Navilok (10 verst) at . Leave several men here to fortify the place. Within a half hour we procede once more. Moon shining but very cold. We crossed the Dina river this time. The sled I was walking aside had a stove and cooking utensils. Going up the steep bank from the ice the sleigh tipped. Two of us had some job ahead of us trying to lift stove and straighten things out. We reach Rostovskoe at (18 verst) Tired and hungry and on H---of a toothache. Then there was a scramble to find a place to sleep. Being on the last sleigh comin in I was out of luck. Finnaly I found a place.
March 13th No breakfast, 1 hard tack for dinner . At “Y” man gave us some crackers and coffee, could of ate a raw dog. Left at and going down the ice of the Dina river “5 verst we crossed over to the land. Arrived at Kurgomin at (22 verst). Being so tired I slept in spite of the aching of 3 teeth.
Packed sleeping bags on sleighs. Half of platoon stays here with own
“Lieut”. I am put in charge of our convoy of 19 men to go on to Toulgas.
Here we crossed the ice again of the Dina. We were not fired upon as there was
an awful blizzard. We arrived in Toulgas at
Mar 15th I am put in charge of construction work- that of machine gun implicements dugouts, urri(sp) entanglements, etc. First firing today Canadians fire their artillery on “Bolo” patrol on island in river for 2 hours.
Mar 17th I have 42 Russian peasants working in sand pit on bank of river. Bolo see us as it is a very clear day. Bolo fires 5 shots at us with long range naval gun. The five were “duds”, they failed to explode.
Mar 18th No firing today. Mercury down to 40 below.
March 19th Northern lights very distinct to night.
March 20th Bolo shelled us all day along.
March 29th Bolo opened up just after dark and fired until . The guns flashed in the sky like lightning. Then after the Canadians hauled their guns out of the pits and sure give the “Bolo” hell until day break.
April 3rd Bolo fires every day at our working party digging sand for dugouts.
April 6th Snow still deep. Troops are slowly pulling out of here to Kurgomin across the river. Their places are taken over by Russians, Bolshiviks at heart, so it looks kind of dubious for us 17 americans left here.
April 9th Rec’ letter from Sadie today dated Jan 19th.
April 16th We left Toulgas at oclock today going back to kurgomin across the ice. Feel safer over here amongst “white” troops.
April 17th Got innoculated in the arm tonight for Cholera. Canadians opened up at mid night with an awful Bombardment. A fine time to sleep.
April 18th “Bolo” fires on our aeroplans to day.
20th – Easter Sunday, no firing today. Snow melting fast.
April 22nd Bolo started firing his large guns at . Puts one in mind of a thunder storm the way the sky gets lite up and that constant booming. But he isn’t very good in finding his mark, or there would be a lot more uncounted for. At he fires again on our planes. The planes dropped 3 bombs on Topsy their strong point. Captured prisoners stated the Bolo planning on mid night attack on us. So we are all “standing to” tonight.
April 23rd Bolo didn’t make attack as planned-Russian soldiers in Toulgas desert and joins “Bolos”. Their loyal comrades shoot them down as they cross ice.
April 24th got 2nd shot in the arm tonight for cholera.
April 25th Russians troops in Toulgas that relieved us, turn Bolsherrkd(sp) 300 infantry men mutiny, killed 8 officers right in the road. They then let the real Bolos come in thru barb wire, so town is lost. We witnest this all from river bank. Although a battery of artillery (Russian) stayed loyal. Hitched horses to 3 big guns and tried to get out of town. The mutineers firing at them as they left. The Canadians got the signal on this side of the river. Then there was some awful firing, The 4 big guns of the ‘Canucks’ shooting across the river, seldom fail to hit their mark. Help ‘Canucks’ carry shells to their guns. It was an awful sight to witness. Our planes come over and drop many bombs on them. The Bolo population is a good deal smaller to day after this awful slaughter. In margins( Not Louis-Slaughter EITHER)
April 26th Bolo makes infantry attack on us, but our machine gunners, and again the “Canucks” spoiled their notions by letting them get up to the barb wire then turn on them with all fury and pep there is in man. They were mowed down like rats.
April 27th During night the bolo gets gun into Toulgas with out the observers seeing them. So now he gives us the devil. We cant even move with out getting fired at. At He made an attack but failed with large losses. They get into deserted village and place machine guns. When about 200 had got in the 3 deserted shacks the “Canucks” dropped big H.E. shells right in amongst them, and as they tried to retreat across a field they commenced to drop like pins in a bowling alley.
April 28th A little quieter today. Work on big gun pits today getting them ready when Bolo gun boats come down the river in near future. Then worked from 6 to . At mid night as we work in dark he started 3 big guns a going beside the machine guns and star shells.
April 29th This awful shelling it telling on the boys day after day. It sure is a nerve wracker.
April 30th Worked all night on gun pits. Rec’ letter from Art and f Keeller and M. Nyland
May 1st This is May day “festivals” alright. At the Bolo came down the river with 5 gun boats. And did he fire? To top it off his shore batteries all were firing on us. As his guns our ranged ours by 2 miles the Canadians simply let their guns stand and crawled into the dug outs. That was all they could do. The Bolo knew this so he tried to destroy our guns by shelling them. He fired until (6 ½ hours) then his Infantry attacked our rear thru the woods. I think my hair is standing up straight today. And here the Yank machine gunners mowed them down like hay.
May 2nd Bolo made his appearance at and shelled until . Our big 6 inch guns are now in commission. Althou thes are large the Bolo has larger ones.
Same thing today. He has a real long range gun today. He is so far back
you cant hear the report of the gun. One would think it was clear back in
May 4th Worked all night digging trenches fearing an Infantry attack any day now.
May 5th Same shelling. Worked all night on trenches.
English gun boats came down from
May 7th Worked all night on gun pits. Both fleets of boats are firing at each other. Besides all the guns on shore.
May 11th Same artillery duels. Rec’ mail to day.
May 12th Putting barricade behind guns so shrapnel dosen’t kill gunners.
May 13th Bolo patrol got so close to our outpost as to throw hand grenades, killing a few Englishmen last night.
May 14th Gen Richardson came from
May 15th Prisoners taken today stated the bolos
thinks we have all big guns surround with concrete like germans had in
May 17th Last two day same amount of shelling.
May 18th A little in our favor to day English gun boats came down a little closer. Must have had a larger ration of whiskey. Planning to take back Toulgas today. “Canucks” shell the town setting several houses a fire, where bolo is known to have concentrated. A very weird sight to witness. Sky is lit up. As bolo tries to retreat thru barb wire gun boats spray them with shrapnel.
Finialy after an awful bombardment a company of Welsh machine gunners and our 2nd platoon of “B” company took possession. 3 planes dropping bombs all afternoon. So there’s a lot more for us to “plant”
May 19th Rec’ 4 letters from F Keeler and 1 from Carrie Palmer.
May 20th Big battle both fleets starting in at .
May 21st Having to have reinforcements in Toulgas. 14
of us on this side are ordered to go. I having knowledge of all dugouts and
other fortifications when there before, also on the list. A tug took us across.
We couldn’t go straight across for we would get blowed to H---. We finaly got
there at . The road
leading into town was literally covered with debris. Dead horses and also
graves along the road. The little log houses of the peasants are practically
wiped out. Just a few smouldering pieces are all that is left of the house that
we lived in when here before. I found a place to sleep in the attic of a house
May 22nd The dug outs that we made before are practically all destroyed. Bolos bombed them when he retreated. So for a place of shelter from heavy shell fire we are compelled to put them in shape again. But while doing this we are being constantly sniped at. So it is a very dangerous job, but most of the boys are so used to this that they duck their heads and joke of it. My squad and self buried a Boloshevik this afternoon. He had 7 bullets close to his heart. He must have had grit for he had a handerchief placed in the wound to take up the blood. We buried him on the bank of the Dina river.
May 23rd Bolo shelled us nearly all day.
May 24th The Toulgas church still stands althou pretty well marred up from so many shells flying. I went to take a look inside of it so see how the Bolos looted it when they had this town. I no sooner got in the door when he let go his (“whis bangs”) Little smaller than 2 inch guns right in the steeple. Then 2 a little lower. I ran outside and laid flat in the road. He then followed by spraying the road with shrapnel. I got up and ran over fences and thru a ravine. He lost track of me for a minute for he still was spraying the road further up. If I hadn’t of got in the ravine I no doubt would of got mine for this was the only chance of escape. I reached the top of the ravine and I see him drop 2 shells just over my head about 200 ft farther down. This was in the rear of the billet (?) where we had our stove. The fellows all had dove in the dug out good thing, for the next shell blew the stove to a thousand pieces. When I see this one land I imagined I see the whole bunch of fellows go up in the air. Within 50 ft of here we had a large quanity of gun cotton (high explosive) buried. But to our good luck he hit neither boys or gun cotton.
May 29th Some awful shelling the last few days. A few of us took a row boat and a quanity of hand grenades to kill fish with. But we kind of expected this, for when in mid stream, he opened up his large guns on us. There was some hurring for shore. When one of his shells hits the water it kills thousand of fish. But those shells are meant for us so no one takes the chance.
May 30th Buried Lieut Hile today along side the other Americans. This was also done under shell fire. He was hardly recognizable. We thought it to be him from his description.
May 31st This is the 1st day this month that the bolo dident fire. It is 10 ‘oclock PM and the sun is still making his appearance.
June 1st No shelling. Weather very fine.
June 2nd Russian patrol numbering some 30 men with rifles and 2 lewis guns start out early last night for all night patrol. Early this morning we were awakened by some awful yelling and looking at this patrol had encountered the bolo patrol. They were fighting with bayonets. The Russian leader sent up a star shell for the artillery to help them out. Then started to bringing those big guns. But the bolos away back of the line see the star shell too and thinking the signal from his men open up a most deadly fire. But the Russians won out and coming in with their prisoners some with their legs off and quite a few with bayonets wounds. This is what the Bolo leaders dislike to see, his men being taken prisoners, then he opens up his 6 inch guns on them all the way in to Jougas.
Van-loo stood by window until one lit directly in front of house. Could easily put 2 horses in the hole. This is where “Van” and I says, “were going now” and to the dug out we run about 300 ft.
June 3rd Bolo fired from to and until from gun boats and shore batteries.
June 5th Every thing booming to day. I don’t believe a gun idle on either side. Some of the relief (English) came to day.
June 7th Same amount of shelling.
June 8th At last we get orders our warfare is over we are to be relieved. We left Jougals at hiking to “gunners bridge” there to wait on the river bank for a tug. The Bolo must of knew we were leaving for there wasn’t a shot fired this morning until we got down on the bank. We were just out of his range now. Then he opened up every thing.
We watched the battle from where
we lay. The new English relief having quite a bit of the
June 10th drilled to day. All day we could hear the Bolos and English firing at each other although we are 21 miles out of there range. And what a sigh of relief to think of not having to duck any more. One can hardly believe it.
June 13th Toked down tents, packed our equipment and
bourded a scow at .
At last we are headed for
June 14th We arrived at stop at Bakaritzia at for ½ hr. We are again off. 2
Americans warships anchored in
June 16th turned in our gas masks and helmets to day.
June 17th Sent cablegram home tonight, Barr and myself.
June 20th Turned in our rifles and bayonets to day. We are having 24 hours daylight. Sun shines allnight.
June 24th Paraded in
Loaded some our junk on the transport to day. Up to
Broke camp at .
Our 3 companies were the last to leave
Up in the
We are rounding the
Quite cold to day. We are back in the
July 2nd A floating mine was sighted about 9:45 AM 300 ft off. The ship stopped and with about 15 minutes of firing it sank out of sight.
At 10:15 AM 2 whales were sighted off about 500 ft
At a whole school of fish were following the ship. They were from 12 to 15 feet long.
dropped anchor in
July 5th Very foggy
Arrived and dropped anchor in harbor of
Unloaded off ship at
onto tug and then from tug on the dock. As we marched thru narrow streets of
We were a hard looking lot. Many had no hats. I remember I had no sleeves in my shirt. We reached camp and had dinner at . We had mashed potatoes and corn, beef, good bread, and beans. And how the boys did wade in. Just a year since we tasted any thing like that.
July 8th Inspections and examinations all day long.
July 9th On guard to day some more inspections.
July 10th Examanations this morning. I got a 5 hr pass in afternoon. Met Locke and Moll.
We were called at .
My squad was on the baggage detail so we were kept busy loading all our
company’s supplies, such as all boxes with nerira (sp) records typewriters,
etc. We loaded them onto truck , down to the wharf then on to a tug. We came
back and ate breakfast. Finaly left
Pontenmazen (sp) camp at
and went hiking for the transport. I recall on the road hiking to the dock a
large finger made of wood fixed on the corner of a corner of a building. It was
pointed to the large ships waiting in the harbor. Just below it was the words “This
way back to God’s Country” How well we knew that. Weather very hot. Loaded
on tug at As the
tug headed for the large ships, the interest was great as to which one we were
to get, as the other 3 ships we were on were old freighters, with very poor
accomadations for men. There was some cheering when we put up along side of the
“Northern Pacific”. Boarded it at
. This sure is some ship. It is a ship belonging to the navy, so the whole crew
are Jackies. Left the
Ship making 22 knots an hour. The weather is great. Not a ripple on the
water. We passed several ships already. Some that left
Arrived in the
Ship docked and we were off at .
Raining. Rec’ ice cream and pie from Red cross and some things from Jewish
welfare board. We then bourded on ferry and over to
July 19th Put all clothes thru the delouser today. Turned in our rifles, bayonets, belts, all except 2 blankets and rain coat.
We are all set for going out of here so we move into tents for night.
July 22nd Were awakened and had breakfast at . Hiked to train still very dark. Raining quite hard. Pulled out of here just oclock.
We stopped early this morning in
July 24th Awakened at oclock and got ready for the day. “Went thru the mill” as it is known, that is got examined again only a real thorough one. One had to go before about 8 doctors. The come a lot of papers to sign, Then the pay check.
Rec pay to day for (blank) and also that long overdue discharge . Felt
like getting out of some penitentiary. Went down to station bought a ticket for
July 26th Arrived in Grand Haven at . I hiked out home and went to sleep on the porch using shoes for pillows, until Sadie awakened me some time later.
Diary of Harry Baggott