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


[October 1918]

Tues[day], Oct. 1, 1918
1 and 4 went out but [there were] only 2 trucks so twelve of us couldn’t go and [we] stayed in camp. In P.M. all in camp [were] supposed to go out and camp near new positions. Bomka, Beaver, Boland and Kuntz and I went to town near by and so didn’t go out. Came in when 1 and 4 crews came back and ate and helped load bedding of those who went. Talked with Pierre till late.

Wednesday, Oct. 2, ’18
Heard nothing about we 5 going out and our names are on roll here. Guess [it] was all right. Loaded some [rail] track in P.M. Ate fried spuds and bread. Wilkowski, Thomas, Ochstien [sp?] and Kuntz came in and fixed five canteens of wine and stayed till late talking.

Thursday, Oct. 3, ’18
Cleaned up guns in A.M. and salvaged some lumber in P.M. where F.A. [French Army?] had been. Coski [probably Wilkowski] and Myer came in and woke us up about 12 at night looking for light to fry spuds.

Friday, Oct. 4, 1918
Got letter from home last night and from Glazer. [I] Expect Elmer is in army now as mother said he would enlist if 18 to 45 [age] draft bill passed and it has a month ago. Sorry he must leave them, but [I] pray God it will all end the war and we can both be home soon after it does to stay.
Started taking guns out and have two on cars now and starting on another now about 4:00 P.M. Wonder if [we] will put them in where positions are being dug. [We] Are leaving a lot of work here representing a lot of money, one of [the] largest items being the cable underground to all guns from B.C. [battery commander/control] which was entirely unnecessary and cost several hundred dollars. We have heard that troops on the front six months were to be relieved, but don’t think it true. Our six will be up in a few days, about the 12th of this month, I think. Wrote or rather finished letter home at noon. Quite rainy this afternoon and the woods [are] just starting to get brown and yellow with October frosts. [They] Make one long to be at home. Pray God we may be[,] long before this time next year.

Sat[urday], Oct. 5, 1918
Took out last gun and loaded up a lot of store house property. Put lot of empties on side track across road. Went down road past new American sawmill and watched some Engineers felling timber. Only 42 of them in a company, good eats and Sundays off, nothing [such as artillery] to move. Would like to be with them so [I] could work in [the] woods all [of the] time.
Sunday, Oct. 6
Cars were taken from side track so could load nothing and turned in. Salvaged a lot of lumber and loaded trucks. Had spuds, fried egg and bread. Thomas and Boland stirred a big Mulligan [stew] in potato can. [They] Got ingredients from gardens and patches around. Heard late that Germany had asked for an armistice to negotiate peace with [President] Wilson’s terms as foundation.

Monday, Oct. 7, 1918
[There are] No [rail] cars to load [the] rest of property and junk that’s been salvaged, so [we] are not working.

Tuesday, Oct. 8
No work again, went to Griscourt in last evening and heard [that] Austria had accepted peace terms set forth by Wilson. Got couple cantines filled and came back early.

Wednesday, Oct. 9
Orders [came] to get ready to move so [I] tore down tent and made marching order and bedding roll. Cars came so [we] loaded rest of property. Set out after dinner and arrived at new camp north of Mamey. Got in one dugout and stuff there way up on hill when White came and I moved down with him. Jaynes and Stamm, Thomas and Adams [are] in our end. A good fire place also but [the] one in [the] other end [of the dugout] smokes bad. Fixed up good bunk and went to bed early. Battery works in shifts at guns.

At right: On Oct. 9, 1918, Clayton’s company moved to a new camp north of Mamey.

Thursday, Oct. 10
We didn’t go to guns, so helped make mess hall in morning and wrote home in P.M. Got wood and when M.G. [machine gun] boys moved out below us [I] got 3 blankets and White two. Also some shoes, a pack shovel. Jaynes got hammer, shelves, blankets and different useful articles. Airplane [was] brought down in flames nearby and [there was] a big battle. Think it was [an] American who came down. Jaynes made a lot of french fried potatoes and all had a feed.

Friday, Oct. 11
Orders [were given] at formation for those who came Wed[nesday, Oct. 9] to move out to our positions. Packed up and hiked across country. About 4 miles over a couple hills. Had some time hunting dugouts. Finally located [them] in old German dugouts back of guns on a hill. White and I found one for two [men] and managed to be allowed to move into it. Built a bunk and cleaned place out. About 8 feet of covering but [it is] dark both day and night. Hunted in vain for a good stove. Found axe and shoe oil and got shelf put up in dugout. Some of them [the Germany dugouts] are dandy but face the wrong way. Kitchen [is] being set up but [there were] no eats till nearly dark after our bedding had all arrived and we got it fixed. Scarcity of water for the night and not much eats. White on guard and out till twelve o’clock.

Saturday, Oct. 12
Worked at battery fixing up around guns now in [No.] 2 [pit] and part of another. Putting in timbers back of gun. White got good stove and put it in during day. Germans had paths all over woods and little pole walks. A fine spring some distance down the valley past guns where 4 little pipes gush out and watering place for horses all cemented up fine. Found my respirator [gas mask] was no good as [its filter] can leaked so [I] must send in for new one. Had good fire in stove at night but candles haven’t come out and [there is] not much light. Slept better last night as [I] am getting used to board bunk. Considerable [gun] firing in woods in front of us all night.

Sunday, Oct. 13
working with Jaynes fixing paths and putting up a guide wire for night. [I was] On guard at night 2nd relief at guns. Reynolds is first relief.

Monday, Oct. 14
Easy guard last night. In blankets under open shed at art’y [artillery] park. Got five letters in mail this morning, one from home, Aunt Edna, Iva and Nettie, Mrs. Burwell and Lillian. Heard Germany had answered [President] Wilson’s reply to her request for an armistice and states she would evacuate all occupied territory. If the allies agree she will get off France and Belgium and peace may come soon. Please God it may come very soon indeed and I may go to my home in Kasky [Kalkaska] Mich. and find my folks all alive, well and happy. This is my prayer each day or when not neglected, which times I hope may be forgiven. Also heard that the Kaizer [sic] had abdicated in favor of his second son and that Austria and Turkey were threatening to withdraw from the alliance unless Germany accepted the terms of the President’s proposal. Wrote home to send [a] Christmas coupon to be placed on a package for overseas. Hope it gets there before Nov. 20, the last date for mailing packages, as [I] would love to get a box from home this Xmas. If all [the] latest news should be correct we might have peace by then and perhaps be started home, the greatest of all Christmas presents, as mother said in her letter. Pray God it may come about in that way. Am now at guns on guard waiting for new guard. Elmer is working for Doyle, can’t enlist and has chance to go to Kazoo [Western Normal School, later Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan] with expenses paid but don’t know if he will or not. Edna and Ruth Caldwell staying in [a] town house and going to Normal. Ma says apples [in Michigan harvest] are fine, also corn and potatoes [are] good.

Tuesday, Oct. 15
At guns working about pits. Saw Mike Ruay who is again in the battery. Got 5 more letters, two from home, one from B. White, [Mendel] Keith and Spence [probably Vernon Spencer], who are both over here. Wonder how Keith got it in his head I was engaged to someone[,] he did not say whom[,] before coming across. Ha. Ha. Fat chance.

Wed[nesday], Oct. 16
Rainy weather lately and water leaks through our roof quite a bit. Off in A.M. to patch roof but couldn’t do a great deal. Put on some corrugated iron and tar paper. [News]Paper this P.M. says No Armistice will be given to any other power than [French official Ferdinand] Foch and military heads. Also says no peace can be made with German gov[ernment] as long as [the] Hohenzollerns [royal family] are rulers and people have no permanent control of power to make peace and war.

Thursday, Oct. 17
worked on sandbags and No. 1 gun. Boche airplane [flew] over today twice, [we] expect some shells as [a] result before long. Guns [are] in place and ready to fire and [we] expect to soon. A bunch of 1st class privates [were] made in last day or so.

Friday, Oct. 18
Heard this A.M. that Sgt. Dobry and DeHaven of our headquarters outfit were killed last night and Paul Davis and Cayer severely wounded by high explosive at the storehouse in Griscourt. Went to funeral in afternoon. Dobry and all the others were fine fellows and their going out [is] felt by everyone in both batteries and headquarters. Several others had very narrow escapes.
Heard that White and I, Parker, Beaver, Boland and several others had been made first-class privates. Well if so it will be three more dollars per month. Shrapnell [sic] [was] thrown over at road as we were coming in this evening.

Saturday, Oct. 19
Pit [is] ready for action and [we] expect to fire soon. Drive here [is] expected in few days. Some companies of M.P.s [military police] [are] near here which shows something coming off, as troops artillery and tanks [are] coming in. That objective will probably be to cut off the line of retreat toward Metz between here or rather Verdun to our left and the Ardennes mountains. This would leave the Hienies [sic] but one big route of retreat from Western Belgium and Northern France.
Hope to get tomorrow off as [I] haven’t had any place to go for some time. Haven’t had a bath for about a month. White found some fleas and lice, I guess they were, and guess [I] have some myself though [I] haven’t found any.
Allies have Lille and Ostend and whole Flemish Coast, cutting off all submarine bases on the Channel.

Sunday, Oct. 20
worked at guns on sandbags but were turned in in A.M. to fix up dugouts again. Y.M.C.A. down past D battery where cakes and little stuff are sold at [a] franc a box that would cost a nickel in the States.

Monday, Oct. 21
[We] Fired 4 shots apiece from [No.] 1 and four guns at 9:00 P.M. Got in about 10:30. In Flanders the Allies are to Holland border and pushing west through that part of Belgium. Germans are commanded to hold Yanks on this front at any cost to prevent a trap in the west.

Tuesday, Oct. 22
Turned out at 8:00 [A.M.] but didn’t fire at all during day. Heard down at Y.[M.C.A.] that [Allied] infantry had been pushed back our way over half a mile.
Had some fine flapjacks and syrup at an “infantry” kitchen down the valley a day or two ago. Cut some wood for our stove in morning. Clear all day till in P.M. when rained a little and cloudy tonight. Have lamp of [a] light slushing oil and wick of thread. Hope we get a bath soon or we’ll be pretty buggy. [I] found one this morning, first ever found on myself. 2 letters from home, one from Dot, Iva and Ruth Syres. Elmer is going to U. of M. [University of Michigan] and take regular general course of French, math, chem[istry] and Rhetoric. Gets $30 and board, room, clothes, tuition and fees paid by government. Pretty good and [it] will be a good thing for him if he puts himself to it right.

Wed[nesday], Oct. 23
Fired 104 shells today, up part of night firing slow fire usually at five minute interval or longer.

Thursday, Oct. 24
fired 50 or 60 shells at night. Understand we did good work yesterday. Fired on 6 ioel [?] guns and finished them, on troops and a railroad and towns.

Friday, [Oct.] 25
Orders to move guns back, so we hear. Are to be taken to some artillery dump and think we get new guns. Cars not here yet. But expected tout swee [“tout suite,” very quickly]. On guard, gas sentry tonight.

Sat[urday], Oct. 26
Took wash basin bath and shave, threw away old underwear a day or two ago. White gone to learn to drive tractors and [I] am now with Bomka, Boland and Wilkowski, bunking with [the] latter.

Sunday, Oct. 27
Some of [rail] cars [came] in. Got 3 guns out today and worked from before daylight till dark.

Monday, Oct. 28
Waiting for rest of cars, not much to do.

Tues[day], Oct. 29
Rest of cars came and took out last gun and loaded some more stuff. Moved to main camp in afternoon. In tent with Wilkowski.

Wed[nesday], Oct. 30
Struck camp and hiked away, leaving about 7:00. Ate dinner in Menil la Tour. Went through Martincourt, Manonville. Are billeted now in big barn in [sentence unfinished]. [I am] Stuck on guard and pretty mad as feet are blistered a bit. Rector in charge of guard on first relief and off at 8:[00]. Sleep and in own bunk. Had beer while on p[atrol?], got by Bomka.

Thursday, Oct. 31
Walked 2 1/2 hours and pretty cold this A.M. guard, then taken off and went for bath after company in Menil la Tour. Got new pants, shirt and socks there. [Had] Muster in packs, but not long, [my] name [was] called as [a] first-class private so may draw pay for it. MacCarthy and I had 9 or 10 quarts of beer in big pail borrowed from Colonel’s kitchen. See no good not to carry respirator and helmet around. Am in kitchen tomorrow. Wrote home this evening. Boys now dancing and playing piano and writing. Y.[M.C.A.] sells chocolate cookies and coffee and other small articles, run by a Frenchman.

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 | April 1918
May 1918 | June 1918 | July 1918 | August 1918
September 1918 | THIS PAGE: OCTOBER 1918 | November 1918 | December 1918

January 1919 | February 1919

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