Clayton M. Sherwood:
Diary of Foreign Service, August 1917 to February 1919


[April 1918]

April 1. [Monday]
Bunch of signal corps [have] come in, who started from U.S. March 4. Are in K and I [battery]’s shacks.

April 2-4. [Tuesday-Thursday]
New gang in K and I [batteries’] barracks [have] left. King and Obney to go to States. King gets two years and Obney five [in prison, jail or probation]. Obney for theft of watch from girl downtown. [King may be the man who made trouble Oct. 1 and Dec. 9, 1917; first mention of Obney]. Bull [?] drunk and had talk with me about being [becoming?] corporal. Not anxious for job, though. Co[mpany] drilled on packing to leave. Will soon. Letter from [relative] Charly B[eebe] and Zola and home, [brother] Elmer and [sister] Edna and mother. Have sold Grandpa’s S[herwood]’s place [Nathan Yale Sherwood, father of Clayton’s father Charles, had died in January 1916 in Kalkaska, Michigan.].

April 5. [Friday]
Fine morn[ing]. Trying to write letters to B.W. [Bernice White], B.C. [Bertine?] and others.

April 6. [Saturday; entries from April 6-14 are in pencil]
One year of war today [Clayton had enlisted for military service in April 1917]. Bunch of replacement troops here. Awful looking gang of soldiers. Some coming here.

April 7. Sunday
Co[mpany] on fatigue. Rainy.

April 8. [Monday]
Orders to be ready to move tomorrow at 8 [A.M.]. 54th Reg[iment] came in, all from Portland harbor [England, on the English Channel]. Mostly N.Y. [New York] and 2 batteries’ regulars. Wrote Bert[ine] and Mother.

April 9. [Tuesday]
Co[mpany] worked most all last night putting guns on [rail] cars. No transportation yet, though. Are going to Toul sector. [The town of Toul is approximately 100 kilometers almost directly east of Mailly and thus closer to the German border, in the French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, about 40 kilometers southeast of Saint-Mihiel.]

April 10. [Wednesday]
Cleared barracks, trucks hauled away stuff. Got foot dressed by 54th Reg[iment] hospital men. Got notebook at Y.[M.C.A.] and ready to go. [This new notebook is likely to have become the second book of Clayton’s diary.] Lot of delay, but left camp about 4:00 [P.M.] and entrained, 30 in car, but ours is extra large and not too crowded.

At right: The red cross at center marks Pagny-sur-Meuse. Clayton’s company was transported to Toul from Mailly-le-Camp to the west, marked at left. Germany is to the right beyond the green-shaded border. Toul (not marked) is halfway between Pagny-sur-Meuse and Nancy to the east; both towns are in the French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle.

April 11. [Thursday]
Left Mailly station about 2 A.M., passed thru [through] Sompuis, Vitry-le-François, Sermaise [all in the French department of Marne]. Coming to Bar-le-Duc [in Meuse], quite a large town situated in a deep valley, and which showed considerable signs of air raids. We followed a canal and river and for[est?] most of day. [Handwriting here is jerky, perhaps caused by train movement.] Several pretty towns and pretty country all thru here. Longeville[-en-Barrois, Meuse], Nancois-Ranville [probably Nançois-le-Grand in Meuse]. At Gondrecourt[-le-Château, Meuse] we saw a few American troops and nurses and took another track north and northeast thru Sauvoy, Void, St. Sorcy [Sauvoy, Void-Vacon and Sorcy-Saint-Martin are all in Meuse]. At Sorcy saw men of 21st Eng[land] which is there. Lots of work being done by them. [They] Said Toul was 15 or 20 miles farther. Are now in Pagny-sur-Meuse. Crossed quite large river a little way back which may be Meuse [this is correct]. Also large canal. Pretty scenery most of way from Mailly. Took branch from Pagny-sur-Meuse to little old village called Trondes [in Meurthe-et-Moselle] where we stayed all night in billets on old lofts fitted with bunks and lights. Stayed in no. 11. Threw off mattress and put straw on mine, as was afraid of lice. Worked till quite late peeling spuds while co[mpany] took stuff off cars. Slept good most of night.

April 12. [Friday]
Up and rolled marching order, fell out and went down to track where we had breakfast. First real meal behind firing line [the line of positions from which fire is directed at a target; Clayton refers to Allied guns firing at German targets]. Hear incessant firing now all along, of large guns. After breakfast co[mpany] started work so beat it up onto a high hill after going thru the village, from which [I] could see away to north where the valley stretched and the narrow gauge railroad runs. High hills around village covered with vineyards and small farms. Village very old, built of stone and mud cement with tiled roofs, even drains from kitchens of stone with groove for water. Large orchard west of town. Are loading stuff on narrow gauge, which will take it to next stop, by means of small engines with boiler and drive wheels on both ends. All buildings here joined, with occasional break where narrow alley runs thru between roads. Three women on one of streets by well, combing lice from a cow. Saw French paper there and that British had been forced to evacuate Armentières [in Nord, bordering Belgium]. Loaded on narrow gauge train about noon and started up valley. Very speedy and many sharp turns. Went thru Boucq [in Meurthe-et-Moselle] where I learned that 26th Inf[antry] had just been relieved there back of Am[erican] sector. Would like to see Jim [Burwell]. Saw great number of U.S. men working on railroads, woods and supply trains. Stopped for supper at station north of Manonville [to the east in Meurthe-et-Moselle] and learned that village where we will billet was shelled in afternoon. Dugouts all about roadside. Cars taken up to our ville [town] a couple at a time and didn’t get there until about 12 [midnight]. Got billets with Tubby MacDonald and 7 other men. Just got settled when Germans began shelling village. All pretty nervous, and Tubby and one tall fellow especially. Officers came around after first shots, during lull, and told us where dugout was, so when shelling began again we went down there. A couple Frenchmen were there asleep and a couple more came in. Shells whistled close overhead and burst a little further on. Glass and pieces of buildings falling around.

April 13. Saturday
Slept or rested in bed in loft where billeted till late in morning, when had to get out for roll call. Lt. Vann got scratch in leg last night. Had good dinner and walked around in P.M. Co[mpany] had inspection of rifles. Have cold, got coming up, had big drink of cognac which helped a little during P.M. and talked to Frenchman from New York. Roll call and bunch detailed to go to emplacements, and another to go back for guns, after supper. Think I’ll go to bed so as to get some sleep before shelling starts too heavy. Expec Expecting larger shells [Inserted: “8-10 inch”] tonight. Must write home tonight or in morning, as didn’t Wed[nesday]. More serious now after being under fire, it seems, and think lots of home and folks’ welfare, and pray will not be so long till can be back there.

Sunday. April 14. [Entry begins in pencil, which had been used since April 6]
Slept pretty good last night as ville [town] was not shelled. Quite heavy shelling on both sides, mostly by French. About 24 shells, 7.9 cal[iber], dropped here night before last. Wrote home this A.M. [Ink resumes at this point.] Went to guns emplacements and helped dig in P.M. Saw several French guns camouflaged well, along the road. One behind a hill and good places. Rode part of way out on ammunition train, narrow gauge. Shells about five inches and probably for naval rifles we saw. Walked back and after supper went out on hill to westward where some guns are camouflaged in orchards, and which [were] probably the intended marks at which Germans shot the other night. Have good place to bunk, 4 in our room, Jaynes, Corkhill, Pillard and I.

At right: Clayton’s unit came under German fire at Noviant-aux-Près. Pont-À-Mousson was near the German line, with German-occupied territory to the northeast.

April 15. [Monday]
Heavy shelling by French last night till after 12: Gas alarm about midnight causing considerable excitement, but no gas. French and Boche [Germans] both shoot over this town, Noviant, at times [Noviant-aux-Prés is north of Toul in Meurthe-et-Moselle]. Gun concealed in manure pile or where one was just back of Noviant.

April 16. [Tuesday]
Last night quiet, slept all night. Pretty rainy and misty and lots of work to do on emplacements. Got by yesterday and perhaps today with foot. Run around here in sweaters or most anything. Bunch who went for guns are back, came about 3 A.M. One emplacement camouflaged by engineers night before last. Should be mail soon.

April 17. [Wednesday]
Moved to shacks close to work and by river. Pretty heavy shelling last night, but slept good. Are getting gun fit pretty well along.

April 18. [Thursday]
Last night slept on floor and had gas alarm, causing some excitement. Bunking with Thomas [see March 17 and 25]. Shells dropped quite close to us today while working on gun emplacement, which is nearly done. Have a good place, seems poorly camouflaged now, though. Have bunks tonight, Thomas and I on second tier. 3 tiers of bunks. Shells nearly got a French gun. Was in small dugout a while. Wrote letter home. [Inserted at top of page:] Got letter from home, Homer [Chaney] and Lill.

April 19. [Friday]
Got emplacement about done. Several shells fell close to us in P.M. Up A.M. was out to Dieulouard [about 10 miles to the east] after iron beams for dugouts. Saw lot of guns camouflaged and part of 1st Batt[ery?] of Dieulouard shot up pretty bad, but was nice town before war by looks of houses. Noviant bombarded again.

April 25. [Thursday]
Worked in no. 4 and on mule wagon hauling wood and rock. Awful muddy. Look often at pictures of folks and [it] makes tears come to look. Pray it will soon come, the time when [I] shall be back with them and [that] they will keep well till I am with them all in Kalkaska, Mich.

April 26. [Friday]
Worked in no. 4 and in P.M. took hike up on hills both sides of the road. Back of us are all kinds of French rifles and soldiers living in dugouts. Pretty tired and not too much eats.

At right: Clayton’s company was billeted during this period at Noviant-aux-Près. In the entries that follow, Clayton pays frequent visits to Martincourt and Manonville, both to the east, and passes through both again when the company moves out in October.

April 27. [Saturday]
Worked in no. 1 fixing the magazine and cleaning gun. Better grub. Thomas got box of tobacco and gum.

April 28. Sunday
Had about three hours of gas last night. Had on both masks. After was over, could smell sweet taffy smell outdoors. Breakfast 8: o’clock and went to work about 8:30. On truck hauling stone and dugouts. No. 3 gun in late in P.M. and put in before we came in for supper. Raining hard again.

April 29. [Monday]
Pretty quiet last night. Worked camouflaging and cleaning up around no. 3 [gun] in morning and on powder, sorting wet from dry, in P.M. Shaved after supper and went to St. Jean, trying to get $10 bill cashed, but couldn’t, and good thing I guess.

April 30. [Tuesday]
Mustered before going to work.

At right: A crew works on an artillery piece under camouflage.

Original text © 2002-2003 by, Willowshade, West Grove, PA


Foreword and Summary

August 1917 | September 1917 | October 1917
November 1917 | December 1917

January 1918 | February 1918 | March 1918 | THIS PAGE: APRIL 1918
May 1918 | June 1918 | July 1918 | August 1918
September 1918 | October 1918 | November 1918 | December 1918

January 1919 | February 1919

Battle analysis | Definitions | Names | Family

© 2002-2003 by, Willowshade, West Grove, PA

Note: This project may be reproduced only with written permission from its preparers. Because this is a work in progress, additions, suggestions, challenges, corrections and explanations are necessary, requested – and welcomed. Send them to John C. Sherwood or visit

This World War I diary has been archived at ...

WWI and the CAC in general
History of the Great War | Trenches on the Web | WWI Links Page
WWI: Western Front | 59th Coastal Artillery | Coastal Defense | Doughboy Center
Railway Artillery information | WWI Photos and Artillery | WWI documents notes and archives
WWI Document Archive | The Soldier's Experience of WWI

Camp Bordon, England
Bordon map | Bordon main site | Bordon Today | Hampshire record office

Other personal recollections
List of memoirs via

Why did WWI end?

John C. Sherwood's Bibliography

Send E-mail to John C. Sherwood

Hosting by WebRing.