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


[December 1918]

Sunday, Dec. 1
Took walk to Don Martin [Dommartin] toward Wassy with Thomas and saw part of E and F and A and B batteries who are moving back to turn in their guns.

Monday, Dec. 2
Didn’t do infantry drill but had fire in little cedar summer house down by creek with Stone. In P.M. [we] had hike not far and now [we] are to have 5 hours a day drill to get ready to go back, we are told.

Tuesday, Dec. 3
Had 3 hours drill in A.M. and long hike in P.M. Turned in barrack
[A sentence completing the entry for Nov. 27 and a line beginning the entry for Nov. 28 had been written at the top of the page here in error, then crossed out.]
bags and surplus clothes, 1 suit of O.D. [olive drab] allowed each.

Wed[nesday], Dec. 4
Infantry drill in rain in morning and no hike in P.M. Got mail from home, three letters, the last two speaking of the news that the war had ceased. Also mother and Edna said word had come that Jim [Burnwell] had been killed. It might be that he’s a prisoner or was lost for a time and will get back later. I pray god it may be that way and that he can get home to Kalkaska when I do.
Show at night at D bat[tery] but didn’t go, just as well as officers had most of show.

Thursday, Dec. 5
Went on sick book and in quarters today as is Stone. Wrote to Charles and Zola. Signed pay slips after supper.

Friday, Dec. 6
Drilled and hiked as usual.

Saturday, Dec. 7
Went to St. Dizier [Saint-Dizier] and took a ovotre [sp?] bath at Camp Mosely. Back just after supper.

Sunday, Dec. 8
Up for breakfast, no formation. Wrote home.

Monday, Dec. 9
Drilled, no hike because of rain. Tried to get pair of shoes but couldn’t get any to fit. Signed clothing slips.

Tuesday, Dec. 10
Drilled in new squads. Am in Brasket’s [squad], supposed to be [on?] embarkation list. Rain in P.M., no hike and no tent pitching.
Copying poems from Stone in eve[ning].

Wed[nesday], Dec. 11
Drilled and had a hike but [weather] rained us in before [we] had gone far. Candy [mailed] from [Mendel] Keith and letters from Orel Champney.

Thurs[day], Dec. 12
Stone and I went of [on?] sick book to beat [avoid] drill and it rained all day. Stone in kitchen tomorrow as [he is] on light duty. I don’t dare again or [I] may get in the kitch[en] too.

Friday [Dec. 13]
Drilled or started to but [we were] rained in. Paid in P.M., 180 francs.

Sat[urday], Dec. 14
Inspection and battalion parade with colors. Went to next town and had dinner of pork and veal cooked by little old lady in neat room. Very good.

Sun[day], Dec. 15
No revielle, stayed around all day and am now in same place as yesterday for feed.

Monday, Dec. 16
Drill as usual, [went] with Stone to Y.[M.C.A.] [Inserted:] at Doulevant and got some Louause [sp? Lourdes?] crosses.

Tues[day], Dec. 17
Usual drill and hiking.

Wed[nesday], Dec. 18
Issueing [sic] clothes in A.M. Got sh suit and toilet set including safety razor. Paraded in P.M. about 16 kil[ometers] from here near headquarters. Big hike. 44th also there. Drew shoes at night till 10:00 [P.M.].

Thursday, Dec. 19
In the kitchen. Another parade of brigade, this time at same place. Glad to miss it if at cost of cleaning pots and pans or g.d. [God-damned] cans. Company gets colors though and held [a] good line, though not as good as yesterday.

Fri[day], Dec. 20
Rainy, small hike in P.M. and bath in afternoon. Got clothes washed at [home of] lady down street. [Inserted later:] Christmas box came but knife lost. Candy fine.

Sat[urday], Dec. 21
Inspection in A.M. and expect to leave in day or two.

Sunday, Dec. 22
No revielle [sic], stayed in bed till late. Rainy all day. Reading “The Square Peg” with Barnacastle this evening. No appearances of leaving yet. Rations for Tuesday gotten.

Mon[day], Dec. 23
No drills nor signs of leaving. Got $50 in American money in exchange for francs at bazar [sic] next door at 4.44 fr[ancs] per dollar.

Tuesday, Dec. 24
D bat[tery] left this morning but nothing [has been said] of us going yet [we are] expected to [leave] about Friday. On guard in evening. MacAloney in charge. Prison guard thruout night. At 9 o’clock [P.M.] word came [we] would leave in morning and revielle [would be] at 4:30 [A.M.]. Good news and hope [I] won’t have to chase prisoners. Hope [we] won’t spend next Xmas eve in anything like these conditions, sleeping in little chaff pile in old cold barn for guard house. Vann [is] trying to get trucks for us for tomorrow.

Wednesday, Dec. 25 [Christmas Day]
Guarded prisoners till 7:00 o’clock when [I] was releived [sic]. Snowed quite a bit last night but mostly melted. Makes it seem [a] little more like Christmas. If [I] can only be home next year at this time and have all the folks well, I pray it may be so and that I’ll be there before Easter a long time. Made squad blanket roll. Got little German flask filled with cognac for trip. Got trucks and started for Wassy. Very muddy and [there was] danger of getting off road and turning over. One [truck] did get off road and occupants walked in. No train at Wassy and [we] sat around fires till morning in rain and sleet and cold. Bull tried to make me do prison guard till morning from midnight, but [I] saw the captain for [the] first time in [the] army to complain, more on the principle of [the] thing than otherwise and got off it. At midnight Bull told me to go on and I told him the captain’s word, but had to go on till he sent [a] man to rell relieve me in about [a] half hour. Went to town with Stone and Thomas last evening but nothing [was] going on. 52nd ammunition train also at tracks and boucoup [many] fires going. Burned up a little French shack near tracks for wood. Another Christmas Day spent in France and under poor conditions except that at last we’re started home and that seems too good to be true almost.

Thursday, Dec. 26
Train [came] in about 6 o’clock [A.M.]. American box cars and engine whistle of which sure sounds good to hear. Loaded train and got on about 10:00. Sgt. Johnson in charge of car. On guard from 1 till 2:00, an hour each. 50 men in car and Fiore’s dog. Got squad [blanket] rolls and unrolled.

Friday, Dec. 27
Slept pretty fair for so many in car and so crowded. Legs and feet all mixed across car. Passed through Bourges, Mehun, Foley and are now stopped at St. Pierre at Red Cross canteen where coffee is being given out. Am not eating much as [I] don’t like to on trip like this. Passed a couple labor battalion camps where American prisoners work, feel sorry for them when others are going home. Passed a big weapon repair camp where [there] were all kinds of planes. About 170 miles to Brest or 20 hours run, we are told. Hope to get on boat as soon as we get in Brest. Stopped at LeMons or some such place for coffee and water.

Saturday, Dec. 28
Passed through Morlax [Morlaix, about 50 miles from Brest] and got into station at Brest about 9:30 [A.M.]. Had corned beef and salmon and tomatoes for eats on train. Unloaded at station and started on hike to some billets. After about and an 8 mile hike on which I threw away [a] big horse blanket and which was through mud to our ankles most of the way, we got to tents assigned to us. Brasket, Shantz, Snyder and I [are] in a tent without a cap on it and [with] wet ground inside. Made bunk together so four could sleep together, two heads each way. Luckily I had a candle in [my] pack so [we] had some light. Signal corps bunch [is] next to us and have been here over a week.

Sunday, Dec. 29
Didn’t get up for breakfast and slept pretty good last night. Got cap off another tent and put it on one we moved our stuff in this morning. The Signal Corps bunch moved out and we got beaucoup [lots of] straw for a bed. Had retreat and mail given out. A lot of Xmas packages and one letter for me from home. A dollar in it from Grandpa [William Nelson Marshall] to buy an apple, he said. Lined up for candy and cigarettes to be given us from Y.[M.C.A.] but didn’t have time before retreat. Are fed here by regiments in big mess kitchens and mess halls. We eat at number 4. 1,000 or more in mess hall for dinner and supper. Pretty good meals considering all. Queer mixture for supper, prunes and corn meal stewed together. [Work] Details out of battery go to kitchen for duty tomorrow. Also [a] detail of 50 men [is] to work tomorrow. Hear [that] E battery worked coaling a ship last night. Has cleared off tonight but probably won’t stay that way long, as I understand it always rains here, each day and many times a day usually.

Monday, Dec. 30
Moved into another tent as [we] can have only one street on this side. Didn’t get fed this evening till after dark. A big bunch [who are] on kitchen police tonight and tomorrow are eating now at [mess hall] No. 1. Letter from home. So glad to get it.

Tuesday, Dec. 31
On fatigue today, revielle at 5:00 [A.M.], first call 4:30. After breakfast all privates marched to Pontanezen barracks and were assigned to details. Worked with Stone and 6 others moving shoe boxes, 24 pair in a box. Several more regiments came in today. Some that I know are 51st, 52, 60-56-65 Arty [Artillery], 52 Am[munition] train, 49 and 84 Inf[antry]. A lot of marines and many regiments I don’t know of.

At right: Clayton and his company were transported by train Dec. 26-28 from Wassy, southeast of Paris, westward to a camp site a few miles from Brest, marked by X.

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


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