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


October [1917]

Oct. 1, Monday [entry written in larger, less steady hand]
Didn’t get much sleep, for in middle of night last, officer of the guard came in shack looking or man who had escaped from the guardhouse. Looked for man with shoes on and found several. Had armed guards with fixed bayonets and carried a forty-five [caliber gun]. Orders to shoot anyone attempting escape. Pvt. King was taken and was found to be the man. Several men in guardhouse but all except King out now. Hiked this morning and had signal practice in P.M. Feeling lonesome tonight and do every night. Moonshine bright and beautiful and seems like fall at home. Played company phonograph this P.M. before supper. Only songs that I liked were such as “Mother MacCree” and other old sad songs, which seem to like the lonesome chord in a man’s heart. Am sitting side of a building writing by moonlight and watching the moon. Feel better alone or with someone who feels as I do and likes to be lonely.

Oct. 2 [Tuesday]
On detail and went to gun store houses, didn’t have much to do. Got back just before dinner. Battery went on hike and all very sore at Captain because they were marched farther than rest of co’s [companies?] by a couple of miles. Went to guns in afternoon and learned we are now to have mortars instead of railroad artillery as we thought.

Oct. 3. [Wednesday]
Inspection Wednesdays started this morning. Got the deuce for everything and had to see Captain in office about leaving unoiled rifle, dust on bayonet handle and no shoeshine. Am to split wood tomorrow morning as punishment. Pretty soft, as won’t hike. Took bath in P.M. and am at Y.M.C.A. writing to Bernice [White] and others.

Oct. 4. [Thursday]
Cut wood about 30 minutes and got all there was cut. Built little platform for garbage can. Then went down to Y.M.C.A. and wrote letter to Jim [Burwell] and played football and basketball till noon. Took top’s [?] dinner to him in hospital. In afternoon went to guns and watched a bunch of our men take down and put up a gun hoist. Tried to get watch fixed after supper bud couldn’t. Went to Y.M.C.A. and stayed till after 9. Came back and found shack a madhouse again, half the company drunk.

[A corresponding entry from “The History of the 57th Regiment”: “We spent the time between September 26th and October 1st, 1917, in cleaning up our new homes and making ourselves comfortable. October 1st we were loaned two new type French guns known as the G.P.F. 155 M.M. gun, so as to become thoroughly familiar with same, as it had been decided to equip quite a lot of American troops with said gun. We spent the time from October 1st to December 3rd, 1917, in drilling and becoming qualified in the use of said gun.”]

Oct. 5 [Friday]
Went down to guns in morning and watched non-coms take down and put up the gun scaffolding. Rained and took our [word may be missing here as page turns over] along. Took bath in P.M., went to bathhouse in just fatigues and overcoats. Pretty cold to take bath. After supper went up town with Carswell. Found how high sweets are by buying little round cake for 3F.50c. or 70 cents in U.S. money. At French canteen Nigger got bottle of Champagne for about 5F. but lost him in crowd about door and didn’t get in on it. Just as well, as I’ve nearly cut out even a glass of beer or wine.

Oct. 6, Sat.
Scrubbed quarters in morning and put bunks back after dinner as looked like rain. Drew sweaters given by Newport Red Cross just before dinner. Glad to get them as it’s getting cold here. All [sweaters] in this company are brown and are fine sweaters, V-neck and buttons. Fell out for athletics in P.M. and went down to play basketball with some others. Football and volleyball also started. Rained before had played much, so went to Y.M.C.A. and got paper to answer some letters. Received three from home this noon, one telling of [age] 21 gone in first draft bunch and as many more to go soon, showing that the army is fast being gotten together and organized.

Oct. 7. Sunday
Played volleyball in morning and took walk southeast thru a couple villages with Eastman. Back in time for dinner. After dinner, read magazine and slept [a] while. Came to Y.M.C.A. after supper and wrote letter home and note to [cousin] Dot. Last night met fellow [later identified as Harold Marshall] from Grand Rapids who had lived in Byron Center and knew all the Burwells and gone to school with Alice [Caldwell?]. Nice fellow and talked till late with him. Met him thru talking automobile[s] and qualities of cars. Rainy tonight, lighting flashes and windy. Cold, expect snow soon.

Oct. 8. [Monday]
Went out in heavy marching order and had calisthenics near officers mess. Began to rain so Dunn read rules and orders to us in mess shack. Got letter from [sister] Edna and note from Matilda. Took letter to [Harold] Marshall that happened to come to our battery. Went to guns in P.M., rained after instruments had been set. Came back and went on guard. Got on picket guard at disorderly house [likely a brothel] in town, on one hour and off five. One man arrested between 7:00 and 8:00. My hours 8 to 9 and 2 to 3, twice each. Looked inside after first hour and was thoroughly disgusted. Lots of Frenchmen came, though nightly very stormy.

Oct. 9. [Tuesday]
Rain stopped in morning and not bad walking fast. Another post put on in rear of house as was found Americans were getting in a rear door. Was first on our post and walked 1 hour 40 minutes. Rained drizzly last 20 minutes and for some time after I came off post. Came off guard about 5:00. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] after supper and wrote to Keith [probably Mendel Keith, a friend and basketball player at high school]. Still raining.

Oct. 10. Wed.
In kitchen but didn’t know it till breakfast. Worked there all day. Went to commissary after ration about four and didn’t get back till suppertime so ate with co[mpany]. Retreat before supper last night and I hope hereafter. [Harold] Marshall came up and we went to Y.M.C.A. and didn’t get back till about 9:30. Like him better each time I see him.

Oct. 11. [Thursday]
On detail to scrub old kitchen. Got there in morning before 9 and am in mess shack writing and waiting for mail to come. Have to be at old batt[ery] kitchen to wash it after each meal. Nothing to do in P.M., went up town to Mon[sieur]. Adnot’s jewelry store in Mailly-le-Camp and bought gold watch, 85F. Wristwatch, Swiss movements. Went to French canteen and bought flashlight, 3F10c. At Y.[M.C.A.] met fellow from a Kentucky college and became friends at once. Thought he might get me in on special duty job, map making and surveying. Would be glad to get it if possible & he can.

Oct. 12. [Friday]
Not much to do. Formed in mess hall. Details to show clothes for inspection by sect[ion] leader, took bath and gave clothes to Weis to wash. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] and to see [Harold] Marshall before coming back from bath.

Oct. 13 [Saturday]
Instructions on guns in mess hall by lieutenants. Nothing to do in P.M. At night, went to movies with [Harold] Marshall and came back in line at 8:30 and to Y.M.C.A. where stayed with Frenchman looking at watch and talking till after check.

Oct. 14 [Sunday]
[Was] Called in office and had to explain absence from check. Got extra K.P. Wed., Sun. or Sat. Went to church, where fine services were held by old Prot[estant] chaplain. Read at Y.M.C.A.

Oct. 15 [Monday]
[Was] In kitchen after breakfast as two K.P.’s were absent or sick. [I was] One of two in guard house. [Bernie] Barnacastle just out of mill and also in kitchen, so enjoyed K.P. better than would have if st. [stood?] duty today. Had big line of talk each one. Bunk scrubbed by company and clothes and new blankets issued. Only got O.D. [olive drab] gloves and one undershirt, got fine blanket. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] and heard French orchestra after supper. New Y.[M.C.A.] opened where three young women serve light refreshments in third barracks from end.

Oct. 16. Tuesday
Second sect[ion] went to guns. Small group with Finke put up two base platforms for gin [crank engine?]. In P.M. hiked west to jack pine grove, rested half-hour, did some calisthenics and turned in. [Harold] Marshall and I got punch at refreshment shack where ladies are in charge after supper.

Oct. 17 [Wednesday]
Inspection. Pitched tents and got by fine in all, though was first time I’d pitched tents. With Barney [Barnacastle] in P.M. at Y.[M.C.A.] lunch shack and French canteen. Wrote home at night, in Y.[M.C.A.]

Oct. 18 [Thursday]
Rainy. formed in mess shack and had signaling first period. didn’t go to second period but went to town with Carswell. Bathed in P.M. After supper got chocolate and hot chocolate malted milk at Y.[M.C.A.] and read of new method agricultural schools in Mass[achusetts]. Wrote to Uncle John and Aunt Edna [Edna McKee, sister of Clayton’s mother, Ella Marshall, believed to be “Aunty” later in diary].

Oct. 19 [Friday]
Went to guns in morning, drilled last few minutes as No. 12. Hiked in P.M. to northeast. Met a couple fellows from 8th Reg. at night in Y.[M.C.A.] with [Harold] Marshall, one named Sylvester Brown from Morrow, Ohio. Nice fellow.

Oct. 20. Sat.
Field meet. Fireman’s race, shot put and tug of war’s. Our battery took no places. Took no part in meet and [had] nothing to do in P.M. Went to French aerodome and saw two monoplanes go up, was right side of them at [one] time and was fine sight. After supper met [Harold] Marshall, Joyce and Brown at Y.[M.C.A.], talked and had lunch in lunch hut. Spent enjoyable evening.

Oct. 21. Sunday.
Were gong to church but Marshall in kitchen and Eastman, Brown and I talked till near dinner time. Took walk after dinner with Brown and saw trenches, entanglements and dugouts, one big aerial bomb. Came back just in time to go on prison guard. Will walk from 12 to 3 tonight and must go to bed now.

Oct. 22 [Monday]
Walked post last night from 12 to 3 [a.m.]. Chased prisoners during day. Not hard but a little tiresome, especially as this is holiday and companies do nothing. Liberty Loan Day. Went to Y.[M.C.A.] at night and talked to Marshall and Brown. French orchestra there.

Oct. 23 [Tuesday]
Went to see dentist about filling hole in tooth where filling had dropped out. Didn’t come back in time to hike with section, so went to Y.[M.C.A.] and read. In P.M. rained and had semaphore in mess hall. Creek on special duty out of our squad at artillery school. At night went to Y.[M.C.A.], talked with M[arshall] and B[rown?] and fellow named Crittendon from Mich[igan] who has relatives in Cadillac and brother who worked in woods for Sanders at Kasky [Kalkaska].

Oct. 24 [Wednesday]
Wed[nesday] inspection. Pictures of battery taken by Captain after inspection. In P.M. took walk southeast to little village. Went in an old picturesque Catholic church, all of stone, massive and pretty Gothic architecture. Wrote home at night.

Oct. 25 [Thursday]
Had tooth filled in A.M. Good dentist, at least did not inflict pain on me. Wrote Cy [likely Cy Chaney, Clayton’s friend and the point maker on Clayton’s basketball team] and Nettie [Clayton’s 17-year-old cousin, daughter of his father’s younger brother Harry] in morning also. Took bath in afternoon. Read in Y.[M.C.A.] of great French victory of 23rd, capture of nearly 8,000 prisoners and much artillery. Accounts also showing increasing weakening of Germany. Bulgaria threatening to sever alliance. Workmen ready for revolt and food and man supply very short.

Oct. 26 [Friday]
Hiked in morning and had relay race by batteries. In P.M. went to guns and drilled as No. 12 on rammer. At night was to see Marshall and found they were preparing to leave tomorrow. Sorry that he is going, as [I] became friends with him in such good style. Also Brown and fellows in 3rd Batt[ery] of 8th [Regiment] are quarantined with mumps.

Oct. 27. Sat.
Went to see Marshall after breakfast. Was all packed up and ready to go. They go to Sommesous a few miles from here, so will see him once in awhile, I expect. Hiked in morning and watched big train of troops come in to rest. Had boxing match in mess hall in P.M. French still gaining on Germany, though Italians have fallen back before Austro-German drive, to Italian frontier on quite a large front. Russian gov[ernment] states that it will fight to [the] last and Germans are gaining very little there. No mail for over two weeks except letter from Jim [Burwell, also in France] the other day.

At right: A troop train arrives at a rail station in France with a contingent of U.S. troops sometime in 1917 or 1918.

Oct. 28. Sun. [date underlined]
Went to church in morning. Found [we] would not get paid on time. Mounted guard in P.M. and went on No. 15 post at 4:00 [p.m.] first relief. Wrote home and received mail. Four from home, one from Homer [Chaney], Aunt Edna [McKee] and Bertine.

Oct. 29 [Monday]
Rather cold on post at night and rainy during first part. Nearly in wrong for grouping and talking to other sentries. O.D. [officer of the day] came around soon after. Came off last time 12:00 and go and paid at once after. At night had lunch at Y.[M.C.A.] lunch [hut] and will write some letters. Am on Q.M. [quartermaster] detail for tomorrow.

Oct. 30 [Tuesday]
Went to commissary and worked with truck delivering beef and bread during day and rations for battalion of 8th [Regiment] which is quarantined with mumps. Received two letters and [news]paper from home [for Sept. 20].

Oct. 31 [Wednesday]
Mustered and had inspection, also signed payroll. Got another [news]paper dated Sept. 13. One got yesterday was Sept. 20th. Lent Frenchy Arsenau [Arsenält] ten francs. Bought some French books and a dictionary.

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


Foreword and Summary

August 1917 | September 1917 | THIS PAGE: OCTOBER 1917
November 1917 | December 1917

January 1918 | February 1918 | March 1918 | April 1918
May 1918 | June 1918 | July 1918 | August 1918
September 1918 | October 1918 | November 1918 | December 1918

January 1919 | February 1919

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