The Diary of 1st Lt. George W. Stoner, Jr.

Company M, 339th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division, U.S. Army

Part 1
May 15, 1917 through Nov. 28, 1918

Transcribed and edited by his son, George W. Stoner, 2009.


1st Lt. George W. Stoner (second from right)
Caption for Signal Corps Photo # 158852: Officers of Company M, 339th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division, immediately after the return of the Company from the Bolshie Ozerka front where they repulsed repeated Bolshevik attacks. From left to right: Lt. Clarence J. Primm, 2nd Lt. Milton J. Carpenter, 2nd Lt. Weiszorek, Lt. Wesley K. Wright, Lt. James R. Donovan, Lt. George Stoner and Capt. Joel Moore. Obozerskaya, Russia, Apr. 5, 1919.

 

[First notebook page preceding first diary entry below—verbatim]

Entered R.O.T.C.

May 15-1917-Aug 15-17

2nd Lt. Inf  NA-Aug 15 to Dec 31-17

1st Lt NA—339 Inf Dec 31-17

Chauchat School Nov 12-17 “Excellent”

85 Div Plat Com School Apr 1918

85 Div Musketry School Apr 1918

Inf School of Arms Ft. Sill Okla—Apr 27-18 to May 28-17

Asst Div Inst.

Lewis Gun School at Solombula Russia Sept 3-7-18

Taken overall my father’s observations are not remarkable for their historic interest. Their greatest appeal for me is how they reflect his maturity, character and positive attitudes in unpleasant circumstances.

The diary entries begin on May 18, 1917 and include only verbatim entries for the period from his ROTC training through June of 1918 and the preparations for embarking to England. Annotations from 1918 are italicized and are from the book, “M” Company 339th Infantry in North Russia” which was compiled by M Company Captain, Joel Moore. Notes are from the book’s text and the portion titled “Company Diary from Custer to Russia and Return.”

I have added notes in [brackets] to decipher abbreviations when possible as well as Monroe and Family references. Question marks in brackets [?] represent illegible hand writing.

May 18-1917 Arrived at Fort Sheridan

Aug 9-1917 Received notice of commission, took oath. 2nd Lieutenant Inf U.S. Natl Army

Aug 10—Reviewed by Governors of Ill, Wis and Mich. Sham battle for same. Farewell company banquet at The Moraine Hotel.

Aug 11—Inspection—Turned in part of equipment. In Chicago for dinner at nite P.

Aug 12 Loafed around barracks all day –nothing doing

Aug 13—Turned in guns—sheets Conference-Highland Park-movie

Aug 14. Pay day-45.87 Received Honorable discharge from R.O.T.C. Ft. Sheridan Ill. In Chicago shopping-poor results.

Aug 15. Sworn into active service. [Received 2nd Lt. commission] Farewells—Left Ft. Sheridan 11.35 am. Left Chicago 1.40 pm Left Toledo 8.40 pm Home 9.45 pm

Aug 16. Visiting Day

Aug 17-Left for Toledo 8.45 am. Ordered 2 suits-sheets-slips comfortably-canvas-Yacht club dance in evening.

[The Monroe Yacht Club, the Monroe Piers and the Lotus Hotel were the social centes for dad , his family and boating buddies. They were also one of the Monroe area’s most popular attractions. Parties and dances were frequent. The Monroe Club was a popular men’s group, which still exists in 2007. ]

Aug 18-Swimming at Yacht Club in afternoon. Aunt Amelia arrived also Uncle John.

Aug19-Visited Yacht Club in PM. Dinner at Lotus Hotel-Bert L. Marcia, Bill K. and self.

Aug 20. Yacht Club in P.M. Monroe Club at nite. Fine

Aug 21 Monroe Club Outing at Piers

Aug 22-Dinner at home of Mr & Mrs Bordeau for the fellows. Fine time

Aug 23 “Coo-Coos” banquet at Monroe Club afterwards at Pattersons. Had a real Little Wild Flower

Aug 24-Banquet at Park Hotel by City Commission-Dance at Yacht Club afterwards-“M”

Aug 25th. Toledo in P.M. At home at nite

Aug 26- House party at Lauer’s Cottage 

Aug 27-Returned from Lauer’s began to pack

Aug 27-Military Ball given by Yacht Club-Wonderful time-“M”

Aug 28-Finished packing Farewells—Left Monroe 4 P.M. reached Battle Creek at 9 P.M.

Aug 29 Wed. Reported at camp [Custer], balance of day in B Creek. [BC is another frequent abbreviation for Battle Creek.] Stayed at Posts Tavern.

Aug 30-Thur. Signed pay voucher. Reported at 11 AM met Colonel. Our Regt No 339. Sturn ordered to Ft. Riley Kan-Reported at 2 P.M. assigned to Co E—339th Regt.  B. Heil senior Captain. Regimental Officers: Colonel Craig, Lieut Colonel Major [?]-Major Bussche-1st Battalion-In town at 5 P.M. Stayed at Posts Tavern.

Aug 31-Friday Reached camp 7.30 AM. Muster at 2.30 Called on General Pein [?] Afterward. Left for Monroe at 5.30 arrived 12.30.

Sept 1st. At Monroe. Toledo in P.M. Club at nite.

Sept 2 Sunday at home. Yacht Club in PM. Sweater from BL—Left Monroe 10.45 PM  Deb [?]-1 AM. Arrived at camp 5 AM. Some tired.

Sept 3-Monday—Moved from 403 to 147. Released at 1:30 P.M. First nite in camp

Sept 4-Tuesday-Physical drill 8.30 Instruction in receiving recruits. Released at 1 PM until 8 A.M. Wed Battle Creek for supper-movies Back in camp 10.30 PM.

Sept 5 Wed-Raining. Instructions in receiving conscripts. Report 2 P.M. Received 1st batch this P.M. Heavy electrical storm all lights out 7.30 in bed at 8.

Sept. 6 Thur. First drill of recruits. Physical drill, school of soldier talk by Colonel Craig. Report 12.45. Reception committee. Off duty 5:30 PM. Assigned to Co M-Capt Moore-Battle Creek at nite for bath.

Sept 7 Friday-Drilling recruits in AM. Rain-Noon. In quarters until bedtime 8.30. Rain

Sept 8 Sat-Insp. Of quarters-Phy. Drill. S of S [?] to 11.30. O of Day from 6 PM to 6 PM Sunday.

Sept 9-Sun-Officer of all day. Some day. All questions. In camp at nite.

Mon Sept 10-Drilled Recruits all day-C.A.N. [?] Very cold in AM.

Sept 11 Tues-Drill in AM. Made Blackboard-in town in PM-Bought high shoes.

Sept 12-Wed. Drill in AM. Clothing issued in P.M. BC at nite.

Sept 13-Thur-Drill AM & PM. Pat & Bordeau notified to go to Camp Green Charlotte North Carolina.

Sept 14 Friday-Drill in AM & PM , Mauer, Bordeau & self, dinner at Post Tavern at nite, show in camp 11.30 PM.

Sept-15 Sat. inspection Phy. Drill Address by Genl Pein [?] In B.C. in PM met Weirman. Dinner at P.T. Heil, Ledyard & self.

Sept 16-Sun-Met Maj Genl Dickman 9 AM.-Heil & O in B.C.in PM Supper P.T. His Bridal Nite.

Sept. 17-Mon-Instructions at recruiting station in AM. Fatigue duty PM. Moved into 178

Tue-Sept 18.Reported at Receiving Station for instructions by Major Briukerhoff [?] Fatigue in PM. At G[?]quack Lake at nite.

Wed. Sept 19-Reported at Bull Pen 8 AM to 12:30 Fixed up room with Carpenter back to pens at 5:30 to 8 PM.

Thur Sept 20-“Carp” & I made table, waste basket shoe shiner and shelf in AM. Room in fine shape. Raining In B.P. 8:00 to 12.30, 5.30 to 8 In BC in PM bought: Iron, mirror. Relieved Captain 10 to 11 PM.

Sat. Sept 22. Inspection AM  Bull Pen from 12.30 to 11 PM. Helped in office to 12 PM. Joe [?] Anteau [?] & Finn up here.

Sun Sept 23-Officer of Day-Measuring recruits 108-total men & non coms 129. Measured men, off duty 10 PM.

Mon. Sept 24 In BC in AM buying towels for kitchen. Met A[Anton] Munch & wife. Drilled in PM 1st meal in our own mess-met non-coms after dinner-in quarters afterwards.

Tue Sept 25-Drilled all day-non-coms meeting at nite. Conference of our Co officers

Wed Sept 26-Drilled in AM-Pressed clothes all afternoon-in bed 8.45

Thur Sept 27-Harvey to hospital-Drilled until 10 Rain. Fitted coats in PM. Not much doing. Received70 Krags. Met Major Marx and party.

Fri Sept 28 Took men down to I.M.[?] for clothes all AM. Issued rifles in PM. Ainls [name?] Gave his experiences at Cambridge until 11 PM. Received travel pay from Sheridan

Sat Sept 29-1st and 4th platoon out to drill, rain 10 AM, cleaned guns. W Sawyer & E Greening in town in PM. Bought overcoat-Met Bronsons, Roots[?] & Dvddo [?] Returned 11.45-Received puttees from HM&R.

Sun Sept 30-Roots & Dvddo out to dinner, in town in PM. Met Fred & Smiler [Mauer] had dinner with them. Returned 12.00P.M.

Mon Oct 1-Drilled in AM.-Fred & Smiler out here for dinner. App[?] men officer. Tried to get straightened out. Bed at 8.45. Returned puttees

Tue Oct. 2-Learning the ropes as mens officer until 10 P.M.

Wed Oct 3-Still at it. In town 1.30 to 5.30 PM. Worked all evening

Thur Oct 4-Rained all day. Lieut D [?] Harvey died 4 A.M. Shopped in Augusta and BC in PM-Stayed in all evening.

Fri Oct 5-Rained all day cold-Detailed to attend Lt. Harvey’s funeral.

Sat Oct 6-Left at 7.30for Grand Haven. Stayed in Grand Rapids at nite.

Sun Oct 7-Left Gd Rapids at 7.30 AM-reached camp to 10. Stayed in camp until 6 PM & had dinner at Post Tavern Capt Heil,M Bordeau. Returned at 12.Very tired.

Mon Oct 8-Men duties all day-took inventory- nearly freezing. To bed early.

Tue Oct 9. In BC in A.M. ME [?] duties in PM-in at nite.

Wed Oct 10-Rain in AM. In BC in evening short time.

Thur Oct 11 Drilled part of day-Rain-Instruction inside-Liberty Loan Speech

Fri Oct 12-Rain-Same as Thur. Rec’d telegram from home

Sat Oct 13-Inspection in AM. Left for home 12.40 reached there 6.45PM. Mother in very bad shape.

Sun-At home all day. Left at 9.45PM>

Mon-Reached camp 5.40 AM-some trip-Drilled all day-Felt rotten in bed at 7 PM.

Tue Oct 16-Drilled in AM. Lecture on fort? and its care in PM.

Wed Oct 17 Drilled in AM-In BC in PM-Room 64

Thur Oct 18-Rain & Snow

Fri Oct 19-Took physical exam. Good news-drilled all day

Sat Oct 20-Inspection & drill-In BC in PM bought wool suit back at 5 P.M.

Sunday Oct 21-Cold & raining in camp all day.

Mon Oct 22-Rain in AM Drill in PM-2 hr hike at nite. Rained all evening.

Tue Oct 23-R and Snow-in quarters all AM-Half holiday in PM. Cleaned new quarters

Wed Oct 24-L.L.[?] Day. Drills in AM-Football PM. BC at night.

Thur Oct 25-Fine day. Drilled all day-

Fri Oct 26-Rain-move to #479-Co to 490.

Sat Oct 27-Rain in AM. -Minn & Maude [Dad’s sisters] arrived at 3.15 P.M.

Sun Oct 28-Went in after the girls-Had dinner at camp-they left at 4.30 PM a fine visit-Heil and I at dinner at PT-Movie. A little excitement-1498 nc.[?]

Mon Oct 29-Rain all day. Inside work-bad cold.

Tue Oct 30-Heavy Snow & cold. Drilled all day-no heat in barracks

Wed-Oct 31-More Snow-Muster-In BC in PM & nite.

Nov 1-Drilled until 2 P.M. Co on 3 hr hike at nite. First maneuvers. Flag contest-exciting.

Fri Nov 2-Drilled in AM. Hike from 1 PM to 4.30. Regimental parade.

Sat-A.M. Drilled all AM. Settled room in PM-Fine day. In BC at nite

Sun Nov 4-On duty in A.M. Down to BC at 4.30 returned 11.45

Mon Nov 5-Drilled all day. Fine day

Tue Nov 6-Drilled all day. Fine day-heard from Bordeau

Wed-Nov 7-Whole Co on fatigue-French lecture in AM.

Thur-Nov 8-On Guard

Friday Nov 9-Went on at O of Day Thur 4 PM-off Fri 4 PM-Very tired-ready for ? and then to bed.

Sat Nov 10-Up at 4 AM left 5.30 for Det. At Masonic Temple until 9 PM-Arrived Monroe 10.45

Sun Nov 11-Up at 5 AM left for Det with Father at 6.45-At Masonic Temple from 10 AM to 7.30 PM-Great work. Left Det at 8.30 arrived at camp at 12.30

Mon Nov 12-Drilled all day-selected to attend School on Chauchat Rifle. [Pronounced ‘show shay’ this light machine gun was the most widely used automatic weapon in WWI.] French Lecture at nite

Tue Nov 13-Attended school in AM. Drilled in PM

Wed Nov -14 School in AM. Down to B.C. in PM-show at nite rotten.

Thur Nov 15. School in AM-Drill in P.M. Received box from Marguerite [Sister]

Fri Nov 16-School in AM-Drilled in PM.

Sat Nov 17-School in AM. Met Gray, Taft ,Sawyer, Blum and Klappish [?]-Very good time.

Sun Nov 18-Showed the fellows around camp in AM. Rode to Jackson with them Electric to AA to see Mother, reached camp at 10:30 P.M.

Mon Nov 19-School all day.

Tue Nov 20-Drilled with Co in AM-received 90 new men worked until mid-night.

Wed Nov 21-Drilled recruits in AM-learned to use Typewriter in afternoon.

Thur Nov.22-Drilled Recruits

Fri Nov 23-Drilled Recruits

Sat Nov 24-Inspections with Co in afternoon-BC at nite,McGregor

Sun Nov 25-in camp all day

Mon Nov 26-Back to AR School-Regimental mess opened in P.M.

Tue Nov 27-AR school all day-Lecture by English Captain in evening

Wed Nov 28-AR school in AM. Left for home at noon arriving at 6 P.M. At Yacht Club dance for a short time

Thur Nov 29. Thanksgiving at home-left 10.50 PM.

Fri  Nov 30-Arrived at camp at 6 AM-AR school all day. On range in PM.

Sat  Dec 1-AR school in AM-With Co on range short time in PM. On guard at 4 P.M.

Sun Dec 2-Officer of Day

Mon Dec 3-AR school

Tue Dec 4-AR school

Wed Dec 5-AR school-Drilled Co in PM. BC at Nite-YILE[?]-1 AM

Thur Dec 6-AR school. Hopes boosted in rumor.

Fri Dec 7-AR school

Sat Dec 8-AR in AM

[There are NO ENTRIES BETWEEN DEC. 9 AND DEC 21—no reason, just a gap in the entries]

Sat Dec 22-Left for Monroe 1.50 arrived at 6 PM. Good news

Sun Dec 23-Visiting day.

Mon-Went to AA for Mother

Tue Dec 25-A Very Merry Xmas

Wed-Visiting-factory friends and home-Monroe Club Banquet in evening-Left 9.45 P.M.

Thur Dec 27-Arrived 6 AM. Range in AM. Big drill in PM-very tired

Fri Dec 28-Started out with French detail-too cold-worked with Co.

Sat Dec 29-10 Mile hike-worked in office PM & nite

Sun Dec 30-Worked at office in PM-Nite 11 PM-Inspection AM.

Mon Dec 31-Worked with Co in daytime-office at nite

Tue Jan 1-1918-Happy New Year—Office in AM, wrote letters in PM-at 1st bat-10.00-Heard good rumor

Wed Jan 2-Drilled Co in AM-Received commission as 1st Lt at noon-Lecture by Genl Parker in PM. Wired Adjutant General-Special Order #7. Extract

Thur Jan 3- Out to trenches-Returned at 2.30 PM-Wrote Adj. Gen-

Fri Jan 4-Out to trenches-Met Father & Uncle John 10 P.M.

Sat Jan 5-14 Mile hike-Father & UJ out for dinner, saw camp-show at nite.

Sun Jan 6-inspections-Left for BC 11 A.M. Meet Dad & UJ. Dinner & show—they left 6 P.M. Big Snow storm all day -Very pleasant visit.

Mon Jan 7-Trenches all day-some hike-much snow

Tue Jan 8-Trenches until noon-arrived in camp 2.30 P.M.

Wed Jan 9-Drilled Co A.M. Lecture in P.M.

Thur Jan 10-Indoor instruction all day.

Fri Jan 11-Indoor instruction all day.

Sat Jan 12-19 below zero-worst storm I ever saw-boxing matches and office work in afternoon. At Links in evening.

Sunday-Jan 13-Inspection in AM-Slept all afternoon-Storm still with us.

Mon Jan 14. Drilled outside all day. Quite cold-night school

Tue Jan 15-Drilled in AM. Lecture at Liberty Theater. No more night school-1 man reveille-retreat-Gas school

Wed Jan 16-Gas School in AM. Lecture at Liberty Theatre PM.

Thur Jan 17-Gas School-through gas-Drilled Co in PM-School at night.

Fri Jan 18-Gas School & indoor drill-school at night.

Sat Jan 19-Co & Gas School in A.M. On duty in P.M. turned in pay voucher

Sun Jan 20-Inspections AM. Nap P.M.-walk-Your in Love at BC.

Mon Jan 21-Drilled Platoon-Gas School

Tue Jan 22-Drilled Platoon-Gas School in AM & P.M.

Wed-Jan 23-Indoor drill-Lecture in PM-BC at night

Thru Jan 24-Cold-Issued Packs

Fri Jan 25-Cold-Indoor drill-Instructions in making packs

Sat Jan 26-2 hr march. Clean up squad in P.M. Bad cold.

Sun-Jan 27-Insp. A.M.  In qtrs on the blink all day-In charge of Co.

Mon Jan 28-Cold

Tue Jan 29-Cold-

Wed Jan 30-Drilled Co in AM.-Lecture in PM-BC in evening

Thur Jan 31-Cold-fixed up council book.

Fri Feb 1-Up at 5.45-left BC 9.30 Arrived Det 2.15 Met Kull and crossed the sands at night.

Sat Feb 2-Left Det 7.20 AM-home 8.40-Party at Greenings at night-great time-Bert F. 3.30 AM.

Sun-Feb 3-Visiting in AM-Funeral in PM-left for camp 7.45 arrived at BC-3.30 A.M.

Mon Feb 4-Inside work-10 below-all in.

[Starting here are many skipped and out-of-order dated entries—I have no clue why]

Thur Feb 7-Took Para Typhoid 1st dose

Fri Feb 8-sick in qtrs all day.

Sun-Feb 10-Chin-Chin at Post Theatre

Tue Feb 12-Left for Det-5.30 AM. Home at 2 PM.

Wed Feb 13-A home 339-Carnival at Det in P.M. Very good time

Thur-Feb 14-Arrived at camp-6 AM-much mud

Fri-Took 2nd Para-Typhoid-Started A.R. School-Saw[?]-Fair & Warmer

Mon-Feb 18-Heard ex-president Taft speak at Y Auditorium-Saw [?] have a heart.

Thru Feb 22-Holiday in camp

Thur Feb 28-Left for Monroe 7’30 PM

Wed Feb 27-Company - -

Sun Mar 3-Left for camp-arrived Mon AM-6-

Sat & Sun Apr 13 & 14th at home. Saw Sturm

Sat & Sun Apr 20-21-Home & Vermilion

Wed Apr 24-Left BC -10 AM-Ar Chi-2 P.M. left 8 PM.

Thur Apr 25 Arrived KC-8.45 A.M. Left1.40 PM.

Fri. Arrived-Ft Sill-5.30 PM. Hot & Dusty. Reported

Sat Apr 27-Straightened up equipment.

Sun Apr 28-Visited Post Field Medicine Park-camp Doniphan?

Sat May 18-Visited Lawton. Cashed mileage check $80.60.

Sat May 25-Ordered home Left 3.15 P.M. Kansas City.

Sun 26-Atch.[?]

Mon Arrived Chi. Jamestown

Tue May 28-Arived at camp 5 A.M. Sent in pay voucher.

Mon June 24-27-Home for farewells

Wed July 3-Left for home

Thur July 4 Returned.

Sun July 14-Started 4 PM.

[Notes from the company Diary italicized begin at this date.]

July 14--Left Camp Custer at 4:00 p.m. on M.C. [Michigan Central] train.

July 15—Arrived at Weehawken….Took ferry to Long Island City….Long delay there. Arrived Camp Mills 1:25 a.m.

Mon-Arrived at Camp 12 PM.-all in.

Wed July 17-Raining-went into New York

Thur July 18-Saw Pat Maurer

Sat July 20-Met B Lauer-had lunch. Wrote Frank [brother]

July 20—Final inspection of men. Barrack bags loaded.

Sun July 21-Left Camp Mills 8.00 AM-loaded about 2 PM.

Mon July 22-Left N.Y. 9 AM. Excitement about 2 PM. & 2. AM. Fine weather.

July 22-Sailed for England. German submarine attacked our fleet of 16 troopships. No change to get us. Navy protection tight. Alarm at night, also.

Fri July 26-Weather much colder-sea-rough-

July 28-31—Cold, rough, rainy passage. Ships went far north. Lost course and went too near Iceland.

Fri Aug 2-First sight of land North West coast of [blank]. Exciting trip

August 2—“M” Co. on guard. All up and in boat drill position at 3:30 a.m. In sub zone. Foggy. Our sub-chasers evidently caught a submarine with depth bombs.

Sat Aug 3-Dropped anchor at 7.30 AM-Layed in harbor all day.

Sun Aug 4-Disembarked at L[iverpool] 8.30 AM-Left L at 9.20 arrived at Al-ershot [Aldershott] 7.PM  Fine trip. Stoney Castle. [Camp]

August 4--….First taste of British army rations. “Baa, Baa, old sheep.”

Thur Aug. 8-Left for London 1 P.M. Met Earl of Meath. Visited House of Parliament, West Minister Abbey. Chin Chin Chow. Stayed at Washington Inn.

Fri Aug 9-Sightseeing in London. Left at 11.05 AM. –Hike in P.M.

Sat Aug 10-Observed British Cadets. Gilliford in the P.M. Very interesting & quaint. Almshouse built in 1619. School in 1553.

Sun Aug 11-Spent quiet day in camp.

Tue Aug 13-Went to London-Shopped & saw “The Bay” [?]

Wed Aug 14-Went to Blackdowne to see British instructs his [?] Specialties. Had lunch with G—[?]  Col. Simpson & several others returned at 3 PM. Saw several “Boche Prisioners”

Thur Aug 15-Went to London. Shopped & saw Little Welch Nurse. Party at Waldorf.

Sat Aug 17. Tested masks in AM. London in P.M. Party at Trocadero. Went to hospital for blind-met “nurse” at nine PM.

Sunday Aug 18-Quiet day in camp.

Mon-Aug 19 Fitted gas masks.

Tue-Aug 20-Went to Aldershot & loaded freight. No mail yet.

Wed Aug 21-Shipped trunk. Over to Pyrbright to athletic meet. Princess Alice of Athlone [HAVE PIX]

Thur Aug 22-10 mile hike-very hot. Guildford in evening.

Fri Aug 23-Shopping at Aldershot-On guard at 4 PM.

Sat-Packed-Guildford in evening

August 25—By train to Newcastle and embarked on H.M.S. “Somali.”

Sun., Aug. 25--Left Stoney Castle at 5 a.m.--Brookshaven [?] at 5:45 reached New Castle 3:30 p.m.--boarded Somalia [one of three troopships used in the journey to Archangel.] at 4:30 p.m.

Mon., Aug. 26--Moved down Lynn River during night. Layed in river until 5:15 p.m.

 

Tues., Aug. 27--Uneventful

 

Wed., Aug. 28--Convoy left at 5 p.m.

 

Thurs., Aug. 29--Crossed Arctic Circle during day--colder.

 

Fri., Aug. 30--Colder--Concert at night.

 

Sun., Sept. 1--Picked up trawlers, Italians left.

 

Mon., Sept. 2--Headed South--Evening with ships surgeon.

 

Tues., Sept. 3--Entered White Sea. Sighted land.

 

Wed., Sept. 4--Very much surprised by view from boat--Went ashore--Left for Solombola--arrived 9 p.m.

 

The “view from the boat” was described by Moore in these words. “We swung on the swift current of the Dvina, studied the shoreline and the skyline of the city of Archangel, saw the Allied cruisers, bulldogs of the sea, and turned our eyes southward toward the boundless pine forest where out American and Allied forces were somewhere beset by the Bolsheviki, or we turned our eyes northward and westward whence we had come and wondered what the folks back home would say to hear of our fighting in North Russia.”

 

Thurs., Sept. 5--Started [Lewis Gun] instructions.

 

September 5—Disembarked at Bakaritza in the afternoon and left very hurriedly for the front….

 

Fri., Sept. 6--Same--a “Hell of a place.”

 

[Because of influenza and lack of facilities, the platoons were split and dad went back to Bakaritza for machine gun school. On September 8 he was named Bn. Lewis Gun Officer and time was spent establishing outposts in these areas.]

 

Sat., Sept. 7--Left S.[Solombola] at 4 p.m. reached Bakaritza. Took train for Obozerskaya--stayed with Chappell.

 

Sun., Sept. 8--Left for [BLANK] at 11 a.m. Arrived at 5 p.m.

 

Mon., Sept. 9--Inspected L.G. [Lewis Gun] Outposts

 

Tues., Sept. [10]--Moved to village.

 

These two days are described by Captain Moore. “Well remembers the Captain the night before the first battle the company was in. Lt. Stoner and I slept in an empty box care the night of the ninth. In the morning we broke ice to dip water for our hands. The men on outpost were stiff and sore. Then came the order that relieved us and allowed us to settle snug in the village.” A rumor floated that evening that the enemy was about to attack.

 

Wed., Sept. 11-- “Baptism of Fire” 1st battle--very successful, interesting and exciting, no one injured.

 

The following accounts are included to illustrate the understatement of the diary entry.

 

“We had ridden out past the out guard on the armored train, left it and proceeded along the railway. Remember that first Bolo shell? Well, yes.”

 

“That thing far down the straight track which Col. Guard had called a saw mill, suddenly flashed--followed a boom--came then a whining, twisting, whistling shell that passed over us, broke, and showered shrapnel in the trenches where lay our reserves. And we hurried on lest he [the Bolo] would shorten his range and catch some of us in the burst of fire.”

 

“...we encountered the enemy...When the attack had fully developed on the left [a group] pushed rapidly forward on the right of the railroad, skirting the clearing and fell on the enemy’s flank 500 yards beyond the clearing....The position [Verst 466] was ours without the loss of a man.”

 

Thurs., Sept. 12--Return of  Co.

 

Fri., Sept. 13--Quiet

 

Sat., Sept. 14--Mail from England. Note: Last pay drawn to Aug. 1st--18.

 

Sun., Sept. 15--Bombed by Bolshevik plane--no damage--captured plane.

 

NO ENTRIES UNTIL

 

Sun., Sept. 22--L[ewis] Gun class all day. Target practice in PM. Steve Lush [?] died yesterday.

 

Mon., Sept. 23--Took over outpost in PM. Quiet.

 

Tue., Sept. 24--Out on armored train supported Cossacks. [verst] 659. Lost Hammer [probably Pvt. Donnor as identified in another account] returned at 4:30 PM.--Some experience for him. Jimmy came out.

 

Wed., Sept. 25--Awakened at 5:20 by heavy bombardment--very wide. No damage--Visited by Colonel.

 

Thurs., Sept. 26--Left on reconnaissance patrol--fairly successful.

 

Fri., Sept. 27--Into Obozerskaya returning at 3 PM.

 

Sat., Sept. 28--Called into Oberz. for conference. Left for most eventful march--455--an act of Providence.

 

Battle of 458 and the Famous Night March....No one had been over the proposed route of the march. No Russian guide could be provided. We must follow the blazed trail of an east-and-west forest line till we came to a certain broad north-and-south cutting, down which we were to march so many verst posts till we were past the enemy’s flank and then attack him in rear....[we] struck into the woods late in the afternoon. There had been delay in the train. It was dark long before we reached the broad cutting. Who will forget that desperate night march? Could not see the man before you. Ears told you he was tripping over fallen tree trunks or sloshing in a knee-deep bog home. Hard breathing told the story of exhaustion....For more than two hours we have been striving to make progress through a great marsh into which the cutting has led us. To the right, to the left, in front, the tantalizing optical illusion lures us on toward apparently firm footing. But it is ever the same treacherous mire. We cannot stand a moment in a spot. We must flounder on. The column has to spread. Distress comes from every side. Men are groggy with exhaustion....Some map....It did not show this lake or he {the Colonel] would not have marched us off down the cutting into a swamp that hugs an impassible lake. We are done for. A detour of the lake without a guide is impossible....But how shall we extricate ourselves? Who knows where the cutting may be found? Can staggering men again survive the treacherous marsh? It is lighter now. We will pick our way better. But where is the cutting? Have we missed it? Then we are done for....There is no other way to do it [find the correct trail]. We must risk a shout. The enemy may hear. ‘Danley!’ ‘Halloo!’ ‘Yes, here on the cutting!’ Did ever the straight and narrow way seem so good? We are soon united again and the return march to 461 wearily begins....Daylight of a Sunday morning aids our footsteps. We cross again the stream through which in the pitch dark we had waded waist deep. And we wondered that no one had been drowned.”

 

[PIX]

 

Tue., Oct. 1--Capt., Primm and balance of co. relieved arriving about 8:30 AM. Balance of co. returned from Oberzerskaya. 30 men returned at 7 PM. from hospital.

 

Wed., Oct. 2--Rested all day. Capt. Winslow--Good news from Jimmie [Lt. Donovan who had been wounded in the battle of September 29]--First Mail Fred, Katherine, Marcia, Grant. 2 from Gladys.

 

Thurs., Oct. 3--Moved to 461.

 

Fri., Oct. 4--Bob & I took over outpost at 458. Quiet.

 

Sat., Oct. 5--Relieved--Moved back to 466 for rest & party.

 

Sun., Oct. 6--Received mail from Florence & Gladys (July)

 

Mon., Oct. 7--Resting

 

Tues., Oct. 8--Drilled with French

 

Wed., Oct. 9--Same.

 

Thur., Oct. 10--Same.

 

NO FRI. OR SAT. ENTRIES

 

Sun., Oct. 13--Left 466 about 9 AM, 461 at 10 AM--Stopped for night at 6 PM.--Horrible Night.

 

Moore describes the Oct. 13 and 14 action. [I have selected passages that specifically mention my father, but the events where shared by all the troops during the two days of fighting.]

 

“Lt. Stoner’s Russian guide and point enter the woods near 461 at 9:55 a.m. on the long march to gain the rear of 455. Just as we feared, the enemy had information of our movements. Inside fifteen minutes the long thin column of blue and olive drab threading its way through the forest by aid of the blazed trees comes under the shrapnel fire of the enemy guns. He does not change the range. Evidently he has it set for that trail. The whole column must pass the spot. But fortunately his range is just right so that the shells do not burst till almost directly over the column. So we pass untouched. With what caution that long day’s march. Remember how those helmets of ours would loudly ring in our ears when a branch came swishing back....Remember the dead silence and absolute motionlessness of our column when the airplane passed over us twice in the woods that afternoon, for we know not whether he were friend or enemy....Remember the pleasant hour of rest for lunch that sunny Sunday afternoon....Too soon the night closes down. Our bivouac is made in a hollow square. We are near the enemy....A long, rainy night is before us.”

 

Mon., Oct. 14--Up at 5 AM.--Attacked 455 at 6:40--Successful--Consolidated position at 8:30 AM. Merrick killed--4 wounded.

 

“It is 5:10 a.m. [October 14] dark and foggy. Men are stretching their cold and cramped frames. The rainy night has been interminable. Trying to lie on a log or recline against the side of a tree has been weary business. No smokes. No eats. In ten minutes the column is in motion....There is ten minutes of stiff fighting....Oh, those bugles. Whoever heard of such a charge and such a melee? Firing and shouting and yelling the three platoons press on. The enemy opens fire in our direction with machine guns and with pointblank artillery fire. But he is rattled. His fire is high. After the first burst our line swarms on. Now Stoner’s men are out where they can aid the men of Wieczorek’s platoon. The enemy in panic leaps to his troop train and dashes away to the south....Only a few Bolos remain to cover the rout with a pair of machine guns, but these they abandon easily to the yelling horde that debouches from the woods....We count up our casualties. Marvelous! Only one American killed....It is 7:45 when the place is taken.”

 

Tue., Oct. 15--Got cars for men. French reached 447.

 

Wed., Oct. 16--Reorganized platoons--Moved up to 448.

 

Thur., Oct. 17--Left 448 at 5 AM. relieved “I” Co.--Started forward. Bob and I took siding at 444 by 9 o’clock. Advanced about 500 yds. beyond--ordered back by Capt. Consolidated position.

 

Moore: “The company had a day and a half to rest up, bury the dead, and reorganize for the continuation of the push....it was necessary to reorganize the company into three platoon fighting units, commanded in order by Lts. Stoner, Wieczorek and Primm....”M” Co. men will not forget that night [16th]. Around their campfires they sat and talked of the strange campaign, talked of the rumors of German collapse, and speculated on the effect on their war. All night they sat with rifles in hand....At 4:00 the company breakfasted and all plans were set for the move....the advance began in squad columns. At 6:55 Stoner’s men encountered a strong enemy outpost, the entrenchments which the enemy had thrown up the night before. Followed a short fire fight and then the cheers and yells of the doughboys as they rushed the enemy’s works and drive him out. The luck with us. Not a man was hit. Progress was now more cautious. The going was difficult....Lt. Stoner’s advance was finally halted at the edge of a broad stream that flowed beside a big clearing about half a mile square....Careful reconnaissance...disclosed the fact that the clearing was occupied by the enemy in considerable strength. We afterward found it to have been between five and six hundred....Well, the scraping was hot enough on both sides of the clearing. But we had the enemy’s goat. The attack was so impetuous that the enemy’s fire was wild and his lines broke from cover to cover frantically. What with the yelling Americanski devils led on by their officers Stoner and Wieczorek and [others]...and what with the bursting of hand grenades. Remember it was Stoner’s faulty marksmanship at the door of a dugout that spared the lives of those 28 people in the dugout, only one of whom was a Bolo soldier, the rest being non-combatants, mostly women and children, one a babe eight days old....Remember the vigorous chase the first and second platoons gave the enemy through the woods....Guess those two platoon would have chased the Bolo to Emtsa that morning if the captains’ runner had not over taken them with an order to return and prepare to hold the line at the clearing.” [WITHDRAWAL ORDER ART]

 

Fri.--Strengthen position. Received 2nd mail.

 

Sat., Oct. 19--Awakened at 4 AM by rifle fire--then artillery--Hell broke loose--3 bombardments--4 men wounded.

 

Moore: “But on the 19th and 20th the company had a little hard luck in the defense of the place.” [Bolo shelling of position]

 

Sun., Oct. 20--Artillery firing both sides--relieved by I Co. Back to 455 for rest. Received 1 Monroe Evening News.

 

Wed., Oct. 23--Left 455 for 444 met by artillery fire. Nothing serious.

 

Wed., Oct. 30--Relieved by I Co. Wild ride to Isaka Gorka.

 

Thurs., Oct. 31--Met Heil. Back at 5:30. Started for 466. Established outpost.

 

Sat., Nov. 2--Relieved by Bob. Back to Obozerskaya.

Sun., Nov. 3--Inspected outpost. Relieved by Primm. Wright to Archangel.

 

Mon., Nov. 4--Primm to Bolozershaya.

 

Tues., Nov. 5--Moved to 455

 

Fri., Nov. 8--Visited by Chas Ryan and Lt. Lennon.

 

Sun., Nov. 10--Arrived at Bakaritza. Spent the evening with Capt. Wade.

 

Mon., Nov. 11--Moved from Bakaritza to Smolmy Barracks. Visited Jimmy.

 

Tues., Nov. 12--Had dinner at American headquarters--Mail.

 

Wed., Nov. 13--Left HQ Co. after spending night with Mac Allisten [?]

 

Thurs., Nov. 14--Visited the city trying to get fur cap--back at 3:30 PM.

 

Fri., Nov. 15--Birthday, very quiet.

 

Sat., Nov. 16--[?] shopping bought cap--letters from John & Smiler. Papers. Theatre & dance.

 

Sun., Nov. 17--John’s [Uncle John] Birthday. Quiet--censored mail.

 

Mon., Nov. 18--Drilled Co. in AM--down to Hq. Co. in evening.

 

Tues., Nov. 19--Sent letter home by Lt. Keith.

 

Thurs., Nov. 21--Dinner with Slavo-French Mission--French & Russian Officers--Capt.--Major N. Bob & I very good time.

 

Fri., Nov. 22--Left Smolmy 1 PM. Archangel Station 4 PM. Chgd. Lewis Guns at 2:30 AM.

 

Sat., Nov. 23--Arrived at 455 at 11:30 AM--my platoon took over outpost.

 

Sun., Nov. 24--Inspected OP with Col. Stewart--with us for dinner.

 

Mon., Nov. 25--Miss Dunham Y.W.C.A. had dinner with us. God how good to see an American woman. Read the Printer of Udello.

 

Tues., Nov. 26—Sawed wood in AM. Had Capt. Dupyt & Lt. Revlard over for supper.

 

Thurs., Nov. 28--Thanksgiving Day in Russia--Yes we are thankful for many many things & hopeful too--“It might be worse.” Good dinner, bath “Y” meeting etc. Wrote a long letter home.

 

This is the letter my father refers to in this entry. I don’t know how it ended up in a newspaper, but it did. I don’t have the original letter and I’ve never seen it.

 

Reprinted from Toledo “Blade” Jan. 22, 1919

 

Dear Parents:

 

Am enjoying the novel experience of spending Thanksgiving Day in Northern Russia. Maybe you think it is impossible for us to feel thankful in this country, but we are just the same, and imagine that everyone the whole world over must be thankful for something.

 

Everyone here is well and everything is very quiet. All we are doing is guarding the places we occupy. In order to break the monotony, we only stay in one place for six days and then change with some other company. The cars we are living in have all been double lined and have electric lights in, so you see we

a re very comfortable. All of our winter equipment has been issued and wish you could see it. We have what are called Shackleton boots for our feet and while being big and ungainly, are wonderful for keeping warm in. As the days are so short, we are not outside very much and lots of times we go out to saw and chop wood for exercise.

 

The Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. have furnished us with young libraries so now we have plenty to read. They have given us pipes, socks, candy, canned meat, tooth paste, shaving soap, etc., and we hardly want for anything. The worst thing is the lack of bathing facilities. I took a bath this morning in a tin pail (the first in over a week). While it was not very convenient, it was very satisfactory and went a long way toward making me feel a whole lot better.

 

This afternoon we are going to have “some doings” given by the Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. A big bon fire, speeches, songs and other distribution of Red Cross things, also have a special dinner. We tried to etc some wild turkeys or rabchicks, but don’t think the mess sergeant could get enough for the company. Anyway, we are having a pleasant day of it, are thankful for a great many things and are hoping you are enjoying yourselves, too.

 

Have only seen Capt. Heil once since leaving England. He is located at a different place. I know he is well, as we get news from all the outfits.

 

We have seen some September papers which contained reports from here, and often wonder just what reports have appeared in the papers. Suppose there have been some wild tales. We have had a few scrapes (just after we landed) and always came out whole, but our friends have now tamed down and are not giving us any trouble any more. All of our company officers are alive and kicking; all the Monroe county men with us are well. Ben Jondro got a slight wound in the right arm but is now alright. Everyone of them are men that I am very proud of and living up to the reputation established by former Monroe soldiers.

 

The following are with us: Norbert Schillinger, Wm. Duby, Art Bitz, Art Eckert, Brancheau, Kinney, Dusseau, Jondro and Gramlich. If you ever meet any of their folks, tell them their sons are well.

 

We have not had any mail later than that written up to September 30th, but are expecting some any day now. The harbor at Archangel is now frozen over, but a little port up twenty miles north is to be kept open all winter, so we expect to get mail on and off. I sent you a cable through the American military mission about a week ago and hope you have received it.

 

No doubt you are wondering how long we are to be kept here. So are we. But we feel confident that spring will find us out of here. Whether we leave by boat or go by rail down through Vologda, Moscow or Petrograd, is immaterial to us, although we would prefer the latter, as it would give us a chance to see more of the country and possibly get a little better impression of Russia.

 

 

PART 2

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Created: 13 April 2009