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


[May 1918]

April 31. May 1. [Wednesday]
Dad’s birthday [Charles Philo Sherwood turned 50 on this day] and first day of fishing season at home. Bath at Manonville in A.M. Mail in evening, three from home, one from Bertine, two from Lill, one from Iva.

May 2. [Thursday]
Went to work an hour earlier. Must be ready to fire Monday. Paid about supper time and came in for supper/bed. Dinner at work.

May 3. [Friday]
Worked in passage to shell hole in no. 1. Turned in 8:30.

May 4. [Saturday]
Worked with Jaynes in 2 and 4 dugout. Not much done. Jaynes telling stories.

May 5. [Sunday]
Same as yesterday, but off in A.M. as [I am] on guard [later]. Hiked out to Martincourt, found [bunk mate] Thomas there. Got vin rouge [red wine] and beer with Frenchman who speaks English. Met fellow from Plainwell, Mich., who knows several people I do, name is Bellingham. Back in time for supper, leaving Thomas there arguing a kid out of fighting and having Thomas punch his bean off. Finke and Bomka and Berry teaed [teased?], soon first relief. Thru [through] about 11:00 [P.M.] Rainy.

May 6. [Monday]
Stopped raining. Shaved and must now write letters home to Bertine, Homer [Chaney] and others.

May 7. [Tuesday]
[Twin siblings] Edna’s and Elmer’s birthday. Worked till 7:00 [P.M.], then went to supper and to Manonville about 7:50 [P.M.] Bought 22 eggs, Beaver and I, some figs, lobster and 18 bottles beer, had omelet made by old lady. Ate and drank with a couple Frenchmen. Got wet coming back in the rain, pitch dark.

May 8. [Wednesday]
Went to Martincourt in evening, bought five francs of chocolate, some beer and cakes. Wrote home while at work, up on hill. [Inserted later:] Mail from Aunty [Edna McKee] and [sister] Edna.

May 9. [Thursday]
Digging in dugout got [?] near 20 feet deep, two scaffolds to throw out dirt. Had lunch on cheese and cakes before dinner that we got last night. Went to Manonville where [we] were the other night [May 7] and had beer with bunch of Frenchmen and a couple engineers.

May 10. [Friday]
In dugout in A.M., gun pit, digging place to run truck and to be concreted in P.M. Wrote to Aunty at night – rather started letter, not yet finished. Overheard orders come in to fire tomorrow if favorable.

May 11. [Saturday]
Up at 5: [A.M.] and to guns at 6. Couldn’t fire because of foggy observation. In living quarters [of] dugout rest of morning. Sunny now at noon so may fire this P.M. Plane went up for M Battery and supposed were to fire at 4:15 [A.M.?] but due to poor light and German planes they didn’t fire. [I went] Up on hill back of battery after a little wine. Pieces of arial shell coming close, and unexploding ones.

May 12. Sunday and Mother’s Day
Letter written today are Mother’s letters. Bath and washed clothes till 9:30, the[n] in dugout quarters and to battery in P.M.

May 13. [Monday]
M bat[tery] fired in P.M. on German concrete emplacement of small callibers. Several airplanes protecting.

At right: A 155-millimeter gun such as those provided by the French for use by the Coast Artillery Corps, in position by a road.

May 14. [Tuesday]
Got some papers from home. Mit [with?] a letter from Getty. Ester V. and F. MacKeller married.

May 15. [Wednesday]
Stood ready to fire all morn[ing], till after 1:00 [P.M.] Airplane had wireless [radio] wrecked so could work for us. Mail in eve[ning] from home, Iva, Ruth and Jim [Burwell]. Aunty and John [McKee] to move down this month, probably there now.

May 16. [Thursday]
Worked getting rock for B.C. [battery commander/control] station. M bat[tery] fired some. Considerable German shelling, some bursting over hill and by barracks. Anti-aircraft shells came over too, close to us. [Germans] Sent over some just beyond us while eating and just now while in bed writing. Expect we’d have to hurry dugout on hill for quarters.

May 17. [Friday]
Fired our first shells into Germans about 10:30. Aviator was on wrong target so shot no more till P.M. when sent over 22 more from our gun. 80 fired in all. Helped to fire first shot of bat[tery]. Letter from home and Lill and [news]papers. Jim [Burwell] and I head quite a long honor roll of men in service from K.K.K. school [According to Clayton’s son Clayton C. Sherwood, “K.K.K.” was a contemporary local abbreviation for Kalkaska, using the three K’s in the name].

May 18. [Saturday]
Report [came that] we destroyed target. Our gun [got] some direct hits. Worked in 1 and 2 dugout. Went swimming and took bath after supper.

May 19. Sunday
Worked till 3:30. American aviator brought down German plane near here, some of bat[tery] saw fight and fall of German [plane]. Both Germans killed.

[A corresponding entry from “The History of the 57th Regiment”: “… on May 14, 1918, we left Libourne for the front in the Toul sector, arriving in the danger zone May 17, 1918. From May 17 to Sept. 11, 1918, we were facing the enemy. On May 19, 1918, there was an air raid over our sector, and Major Lufberry (at that time the American ace) was accidentally killed by falling out of his plane while chasing the Huns. On May 26, 1918, at 11:55 P.M. we fired the first shot at the enemy that was fired by American troops with this type of gun {155mm French} in this great World War {if the gun in Clayton’s battery indeed was a similar 155mm gun, as suggested from his October 1917 entries, his battery’s firings of May 17 may have been earlier than those of the 57th Regiment}. From then until Sept. 11, 1918, we exchanged shots with the Huns every day. Also our aviators exchanged visits every day with them.”]

May 20. [Monday]
Worked on B.C. [battery commander/control] station dugout. They [officers?] have their place fixed whether a soldier has any protection or not. Major Lufberry killed yesterday or Sat. [see above] Walker now a Major. Letter from Lill. Must write her.
May 21. [Tuesday]
Worked in quarters dugout. Germans shelled in P.M., shells falling all about our guns and in middle of road, tore down all wires. At night more shells [fell] quite close, pieces flying down here about shacks. British aviators [flying] over shacks.

May 22. [Wednesday]
On quarters dugout. Policed barracks in P.M., took everything we owned across creek. Inspection of arms after supper.

May 23. [Thursday]
On wagon with Beaver getting corrugated and sheet iron for quarters in A.M. Went out nearly to 3rd line with Thomas after supper along road [going north] to Mamey and Pont du Metz.

May 24. [Friday]
On 3 and 4 dugout building stone wall for dirt [?]. Arguments with Tubby [MacDonald] all P.M. More Kazoo papers [Kalamazoo newspapers arrived]. Tie for M.I.A.A. [Michigan Intermural Athletic Association]. Lambke [friend from Kalamazoo College] still there.

May 25. [Saturday]
On dugout (3 and 4). Bull [no full name, see April 2-4 reference] asked if I wanted to work at headquarters but told him I didn’t. May have been foolish to, but don’t think [I] would like it. Work nights for day or two anyway. Wrote Lill and started letter home.

May 26. Sunday
Off in morn[ing]. Took bath in P.M. and took walk with Bomka and Thomas to find trenches but only got close to 3rd line where bomb practice was going on. After supper went to Martincourt to see Bellingham [from Plainwell, see May 5 entry]. Went to see their (B bat[tery]) guns and around an old castle where French men are now quartered. Built hundreds of years ago, rich old man lives there yet. Walls and courtyard still there and what may have been a moat, mostly torn down.

May 27. [Monday]
Heavy bombardment and much gas last night. Gas for couple or three hours. Too much gas in gun dugouts to work there. Put chloride of lime in shell holes all around guns. On hill out here in P.M. Washed clothes in eve[ning]. Seven letters [received]. Two from home, one from Orel [Champney], Iva, Ruth and Lill.

May 28. [Tuesday]
Big drive on again, as papers say Germans gain ground but lose heavily in men. Are getting rather poor eats, fat pork and marble-like spuds and little bread. Worked in 1 and 2 dugout.

May 29. [Wednesday]
1 and 2 quarters done tonight, moved in after supper. [Bunkmate] Thomas, I and Otto together.

May 30. [Thursday]
On hill by quarters all day.

May 31. [Friday]
Mustered at noon, formation on hill back of guns with Stricklen. Two Germans brought down by Americans here near lines today. Saw Am[erican] planes but not the battle. Heard all firing though. Gun sections doing guard again. Thomas and Otto on guard.

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


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January 1918 | February 1918 | March 1918 | April 1918
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