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


[November 1917]

Nov. 1 [Thursday]
Scrubbed bunks in morning and took bath in P.M. Air raid scare in afternoon and at night lights [were] put out for [a] time. Lent Sgt. Calef ten francs.

Nov. 2 [Friday]
Worked laying track to put guns in permanent practice location. At night wrote to Homer [Chaney] and talked with Frenchman in R.R. [railroad] artillery. [He] Had been in mortar artillery as we are and [he] said it was a hard-working branch and very dangerous. R.R. art. [railroad artillery] was good, he says. Lent Frenchy 10 F. more.

Nov. 3. Sat.
Worked taking down guns and started moving them, both A.M. and P.M. Received three letters from home and one from Iva and [cousin] Nettie. Went to visit Brown in quarantine after supper.

Nov. 4. Sun. [Entry begins with the pen lacking ink and leaving only scratches, then continues in an unsteady, larger hand, overlapping lines]
No reveille. Went [to] Y.[M.C.A.] in P.M. and wrote to folks and M. Jencks. Attended song service at night.

Nov. 5 [Monday]
[This entry continues in an unsteady hand, overlapping lines, spelling and hyphenating words poorly and running sentences together. This and the above may have been written Nov. 5. The next entry seems to cover the same events and may explain the erratic style.]
Continued dism-ounting and moving guns. Disgusting is the lack of sence some off-icers and non-coms show. Make things twice as hard as should. Recieved box from home with candy, pr [pair?] socks and muffler and wristlets. Visited Brown and “Josh” Douglas after supper, broke thru quarantine guard and took candy to them.

Nov. 6 [Tuesday]
Worked guns all day. Got them all set up in place. Recieved box from M. Jencks and letter from home. Went to see Brown and took them some candy. Had Champagne. Douglas shaved me and trimmed my hair, Fitz making jokes and creating fun, great old Irishman.

Nov. 7 [Wednesday]
Inspection in mess hall. Heavy marching order. Got by good but lots got extra K.P. [kitchen police duty]. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] in P.M. and wrote letter home. No. 1. Am starting to number them to see if they arrive all right. Sentry at 7th Reg[iment] guard house made me take my hands from overcoat pockets. Funny orders guards get.

Nov. 8 [Thursday]
In kitchen, with Damon, Corkhill and Davis. Split wood and scrubbed pans all day and ground sausage after supper.

Nov. 9 [Friday]
Had signaling inside in A.M. and gymnastics. Dug air-raid trenches in P.M.

Nov. 10 [Saturday]
Continued digging trenches till 10:00 [a.m.] and laid off for rain. Were to have boxing in P.M. but went and took bath to get out of it. Some of these things are disgusting and the uselessness of some and their foolishness get our goat at times. Met Brown and Douglas at night at Y.[M.C.A.] and went to fine lecture in hut 82 by a Rev. Anderson from the States.

Nov. 11. Sun.
Went downtown with Pillard and bought souvenir postal cards. Wrote home (No. 2) sent some cards also to [uncle] Harry [Sherwood], and Aunt Emeline and Florence. Heard Dr. Anderson in P.M. on “Godliness is Profitable.”

Monday, Nov. 12
Scrubbed bunks and had to dig in air-raid trenches in P.M. for being absent from formation for bath.

Nov. 13. Tues[day]
Went to guns in A.M. and dug in trenches in P.M. Went on guard with company, got good post No. 4, clear night, starry but no moon. Talked with Aldrich on No. 5 much of the time. Second relief.

Nov. 14 [Wednesday]
Got out of inspection today by being on guard. Received letter from Jim [Burwell] saying he thought he’d be at front by Nov. 9. Written the 7th. Report of disaster to Germans on Italian front. Three divisions captured and many killed, drowned and cut off from base of supplies. Pray report is true. Time for new guard to come on, 3:20, guard mount.

Nov. 15 [Thursday]
Went to guns and drilled and learned about quadrant and asmuth [azimuth] instruments. In P.M. paraded at aviation grounds while French officer bestowed medals upon some men. Wrote letter No. 3 home.

Nov. 16 [Friday]
Drilled at guns in forenoon and hiked in P.M. No more news of Italian victory so must be only false report, although they are holding now all along front, on Piave and in mts [mountains].

Nov. 17. Saturday.
On Q.M. [quartermaster] fatigue. Unloaded coal and shoveled it off at officers mess hall. Had finest coffee there that [I] have had for long while, lots of cream and sugar in it. Loaded truck with wood at lumber yards in P.M. and turned in about 3:30. At night found that report of Italian victory is true insofar as that the Germans are stopped and are in swamps and mountains and unable to advance. [They] Are still fifteen miles from Venice.

Sunday, Nov. 18
Am twenty today and so far from home. Went to church in morning and down to Jeanne d’Arc hotel to eat dinner. First dinner in French hotel. Three or four courses and but little to eat in any. After dinner, Pillard – who was with me – talked with a Frenchman who told us of the horrors of the Battle of Verdun and how the artillery acted, and values of each kind. Then went to shops and bought some souvenir handkerchiefs and sent home in letter No. 4. After supper went downtown with Brown, Douglas and Barnett and had hot chocolate and cakes and beer. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] and finished letter started in P.M. and read [news]paper.

Nov. 19 [Monday]
Scrubbed bunks in A.M. and took bath and washed clothes. Supposed to be athletics in P.M. but as [there] was no formation, went to Y.[M.C.A.] instead and stayed till boards were in at shack.

Nov. 20 [Tuesday]
Worked cleaning up around aerial trenches in A.M. Received 18 birthday cards from kids at home. Went to guns in P.M.

Nov. 21 [Wednesday]
Wed. inspection in A.M., gas mask drill. Hair too long at inspection – on top, that is, just cut a few days ago.

Nov. 22. Thurs.
Hiked in A.M. under a first lieuy [lieutenant] who seemed dippy [judging] by exercises we were given. Bath in P.M. Put in name for artillery study.

Nov. 23 [Friday]
Hiked under Walker in A.M. At noon were questioned by Capt. Walker for admission to study. Am told that at Pillard and I, Sgt. Duderick and Cpl. Sova were chosen out of about 20 who applied.

Nov. 24 [Saturday]
Hiked in A.M. under Cap. Clark. Had athletics in P.M.

Nov. 25. Sunday
Went uptown and to French school to see about getting trig[onometry] book or geometry [book] but couldn’t find any. In P.M. wrote home and to Dr. Burwells.

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

Nov. 26 [Monday]
Policed quarters and took bath. Beat [avoided] detail to scrub mattresses by. Supposed to go to school at 9:45 but was put off till evening. At noon [an] order came that only men who would be 21 by Mar[ch] 1 could go to school [Clayton would not turn 21 until November 1918]. Pillard and I out of luck, Pillard by 9 days only. [I am] Sorry, as it would have been good chance for review. Some going now who have had but little math. Got out of [doing] guard [duty], though, as names were not on list. Helped mechanics put some tarpaper on side of kitchen in P.M. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] at night.

[Nov.] 27th [Tuesday]
Laid abed till late as co[mpany] is on guard. Brought up some coal for shack and went to Y. Some snow on ground and wet weather. Pillard and I sitting by little round stove at Y. talking and keeping out of tarpaper job. Nov. 28. Brought coal in morning. In P.M. brought rations. Weighed 173 at commissary. Wrote letters in Y. shack.

Nov. 28. [Wednesday]
Inspection in morning. Wrote letters in P.M.

Nov. 29. [Thursday]
Thanksgiving Day. Went to services at Y.[M.C.A.] in A.M. and was told by top sgt. [sergeant] to get phys[ical] exam[ination] and go to school. Don’t know if can go right along if they look into my age. No breakfast for me as [I] laid abed. Dinner fine, had goose, dressing, mashed potatoes, apple and pumpkin pie, nuts, and beer. Went on reg. guard [duty] as hdq.[headquarters] orderly , easy job, and went to school at night.

Nov. 30 [Friday]
[Was] Hdq. [headquarters] orderly, didn’t have to stand muster, only reported to batt[ery] adjutant. Relieved at 4:00.

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


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