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


[September 1918]

Sunday, Sept. 1, 1918
Gun pits [are] put back in shape and powder and magazines being brought back. Worked on this in P.M. Nothing doing as [we] couldn’t use main [rail] line.

Monday, Sept. 2
Worked bringing powder back. Pretty cold mornings lately but warm this noon. Would be warmer if tent was on ground instead of raized [sic] I suppose. Got letter from Lill yesterday but none from home.

Tuesday, Sept. 3
Filling in telephone trenches.

Wednesday, Sept. 4
Same as yesterday.
Thursday Sept. 5.

With mechanics cementing dugouts against gas. On guard in evening under Jaynes on from 6 [P.M. to 12 then night and tomorrow off. Jaynes [was] talking till late, [telling] stories and tales of things [he] had done.

Thurs[day, overwriting “Friday”], Sept. 5 [overwriting “6”]
Day off[,] slept in morning and went to Gezoncourt, Griscourt and Villers-en-Haye in P.M. After something at Y.[M.C.A. and] got some cakes at last place. Y. never seems to have anything. Got 2 teeth filled at Villers-en-Haye by 90th div[ision] dentist. Nice officers.

Friday, Sept. 6
Worked at M D. battery helping dig their dugouts in new positions further up. Letter from home dated July 29 and one from Lill.

Sat[urday], Sept. 7
At D bat[tery] in A.M. on detail. Bath in P.M. and formation at 3:30 to keep men around. Left clothes in Griscourt to be washed. Are standing by for night drill at 7:15. Two letters from home, last one Aug. 6. 2 from Lill and one from [Orel] Champney with pictures of self and 2 others of old 59[th Artillery].

Sunday, Sept. 8
Worked at D bat[tery] all day digging in dugout. Bat[tery is] making dugout near camp to take shelter in when [offensive] drive is on if necessary. Wrote home.

Monday, Sept. 9
Worked at D bat[tery] in A.M. Lt. Hendon [was] not satisfied by work accomplished so [we] did not have the detail in P.M. Worked in [our] own dugout at camp.

Tuesday, Sept. 10
Bunch of tanks coming in woods here. Small ones [each] manned by one gunner and a driver. Some carry machine guns and some one pounders. Very powerful and mobile. Roads are full of ammunition trains and troops going to the front. Stream of wagons going both ways all night and all day if cloudy. Rainy all the time, fine to maneuver troops though as there can be so little observation. Expecting a drive on Metz in day or two, to be started. Americans and French [are] here in great numbers with any amount of artillery.

Wednesday, Sept. 11
In dugout all day, not yet ready for timbers. More tanks coming in, am told there will be 800 of them. Some large ones. Also heard that 17 divisions of Americans are along this front. 5th [is] here, 90th, 82nd and [I] hear [that] 42nd and 37th and 87 are near, also 1st and 2nd somewhere back of here. No one can leave tonight. [We were] Awakened at 10 o’clock at night and battery hurried to guns with rifles and ammunition. Raining hard and all [of us were] soaked pretty well. Full field of fire [was] cut out and [we were] ready to fire at one o’clock [A.M.].

Thursday, Sept. 12
Commenced firing about 1:15 [A.M.] and fired 25, one of which caused trouble, hung in breach recess [of cannon]. Dropped tube a little and rammed it home, then 20 more and intermittently till noon, firing in all 85 shots, some at dugouts and some at reserve troops, we hear. A hundred or more German prisoners came along road under guard before noon. Some old and others rather young but all well uniformed. [They] Did not seem too displeased at being taken. Understand [Allied] infantry was advancing all morning on 45 kilometer front and hope it [is] true. One of guards over prisoners said they had gone five miles when he started back. Coffee and bread and meat here at guns before breakfast before daylight and slum for dinner at camp, one crew at a time. [We] Are at guns now, awaiting further orders.

[A corresponding entry from “The History of the 57th Regiment”: “At 12:59 A.M. on the morning of the 12th of September, 1918, the world was electrified by the announcement of a barrage put over by the Americans and French. This was the largest barrage ever put over by any troops up to this time and we had the honor of starting it in our particular sector. This drive is known as the great St. Mihiel drive and is famous because of its magnitude and effectiveness. There was more artillery mobilized for this drive than for any other drive previous. This drive lasted for three days and was a complete success from every point of view. We suffered no casualties.”]

Friday, Sept. 13
Slept last night and cleaned gun and pit this morning. News of fine advance. All St. Mihiel saliant [sic; salient, a military projection or battle line] captured, 8,000 prisoners now. German major walking fast a while ago with buck’s pack on his back who was chasing him. Drive was from Pont au Mousson [Pont-À-Mousson] to the westward. Great success. Nothing done in P.M. Hear [we] are to move further up.

At right: A German howitzer setup near the Saint-Mihiel line in 1918.

Sat[urday], Sept. 14
Started taking guns down and 3 and 4 sections and other details gone up to get positions ready. 1 and 2 left to take out guns as they know they can do it. In one of our targets a stone quarry was filled with 77s and machine guns. Infantry had it surrounded but its capture would have taken too many men. After ten shots the Hienies [sic; “Heinies,” or Germans] came out 300 and surrendered, nearly as many dead, we understand from infantry whom we see. Also shot up a troop train cutting last two cars completely off in town where troops were massed in reserve and which we shot at considerably, doing considerable damage. Also a telephone station in a town and some other targets. Infantry is full of praise of work that was done in the quarry and Col. Howell well pleased. C bat[tery] only one in his command that was mentioned in communiques and despatches, we hear. Some of fellows up near new positions saw dead Germans and also some Americans. Makes one’s blood boil to think of so many good Americans going under. Big dugouts [could been seen] in German lines with electric lights and pool tables, regular houses. Have advanced now so that our positions will be 6 1/2 kilometers back of lines, while this morning they were only 2. Now over 13,000 [German] prisoners. Worked till late at night.

Sunday, Sept. 15
Got No. 1 and 4 [guns] out and part of 3 before noon, then orders to stop work as [we] were not to move them up. Nothing doing this P.M. but [I] am on guard tonight. Would like to have gone up to what was [the] front a few days ago. Got mail, letter from home, 1 from Bert and 2 from Lill. On post from 6 to 12 at night. Saw couple bunches of prisoners going through.

Monday, Sept. 16
On post again from 6 A.M. to 12 [noon]. Battery not working this morning awaiting orders. Several [men] have been up to line and brought back things. Will go this P.M. if possible. Engineer corporal who has come back from close up says doughboys are going some and [are] only a couple miles from Metz. Going so fast [they] can hardly be kept in ammunition. Germans [who were] captured say war can’t last long. First three days’ objectives [were] taken [in the] first day. Took a bath in P.M. and went out to where old front was with Gillespie. Didn’t go back far enough to find much. Saw trenches cemented with good bunks in them and old wine gardens with chairs and tables, machine gun implacements with long belts of cartridges, trench mortar and bomb, hand grenades, “potato mashers.” Saw several dead Germans. American dead were buried as we saw several graves and tags on them. Barbed wire and trenches so that I don’t see how the boys got through the first night. The surprise was pretty complete it seemed, however, for coffee was left where [it] had been boiling and other food as if they had been eating. Rode half way out and most of way back in truck, quite a distance now. Got milk at co-op but no supper.

Sept. 17, 1918 [Tuesday]
Battery out putting guns on cribbing, that are already out of pit. Leaving the others sit in pit. Am at Foyer going to write home. Boucoup blackberries, put some in cup with milk and sugar on.

At right: The type of general-issue drinking cup used by American soldiers during World War I.

Sept. 18, 1918 [Wednesday]
Inspection of rifles at 10:00 [A.M.]. Orders [were] to stay around camp rest of day. Went to old German trenches in P.M. with MacCarthy and Taylor. Saw some fine trenches and dugouts, finished and lighted fine. Got German cartridge pouch and small flask and ammunition. Oats at Red + [Cross] on way back.

Thursday, Sept. 19
Nothing to do but stay around camp. 3 and 4 [guns] left for new positions near Thiaucourt back in old Germany territory. Got German rifle from Kinsman, sure a fine one and would give a lot if [I] could take it home with me but it will be impossible. Shot some with it in valley, good shooting gun.

Friday, Sept. 20
Nothing doing yet. Shot French rifle of Peatfield’s, lots of ammunition for them. Went to Griscourt in P.M. and got chocolate at Y.[M.C.A.].

Sat[urday], Sept. 21
Very cold and cloudy. If [I] thot [thought] we’d stay long [I] would dig down and fix [a] good warm place, but all company except 50 are going tomorrow. 1 and 2 stay here. Took some stuff in [to camp] and put in barrack bag. Got overcoat and sweater. Got extra shelter half this A.M. and have enough for [a] tent of my own. White and I expect to make double tent at new place as he also has an extra one. Wrote Lill.

Sunday, Sept. 22, 1918
Fuller went [away] also, so I am alone in place Guvger [sp?] had fixed up with tent and bag and bunk. Fine place. Nice day and seems hard to have to be at war. I pray to God this war will soon end and I can go home and find all the folks there alive as well as I left them. Only get homesick once in awhile but today is nice and a fine day, the kind [I] could spend so happily at home and with friends and folks. Wrote home and to Aunt Edna and started one to Charley and Zola with German bullet for Charley. Have candle in tent as it’s so well closed.

Monday, Sept. 23, 1918
White moved in with me this A.M. Made fire in cup. No work today. Two fellows at new place severely hurt by hand grenades [they] picked up. Played cards part of P.M. and on guard tonight under Tubby MacDonald. Had argument with him awhile ago. 2nd relief from 10 till 2 and and 2 to 4 tomorrow P.M. Office has moved out and Rector [is] in charge here under Amsbury. [I] Hear company is to come back and all [are] to go to Griscourt in billets but [I] don’t know.

Tues[day], Sept. 24
Nothing to do for company. Was on post 4 hours last night. Staid [stayed] in powder mag[azine] most of time and got onions from garden left by French. Was on post from 2 to 4 in P.M., had German rifle, was firing with only small powder in shell. Got bullet stuck in barrel. Got it out in evening and had target practice with French rifle near B.C. [battery commander/control]. Co[mpany] took bath but [I] didn’t get to.

Wednesday, Sept. 23
Did nothing but read in A.M. and hunt for stove which [I] didn’t find. Went in for bath in P.M. but we didn’t take one as [we] were afraid of cooties in bathhouse. Got back and White had moved tent. Was built double with Moore and Wilkcoski [later spelled Wilkowski] and had stove in it. Got set and fried some spuds White got in French garden near by. Battery came back at noon and are in tents again. Have light in tent now at night, not as good for light in this big tent as [it] was in [the] little one we left but more room and better aside from that.

Thursday, Sept. 26
Nothing doing for battery except 3 and 4 went out and put their guns in readiness and took down gin. Read and finished letter to Charley and Zola. Finished book “Treasure.” got letter from home and Ruth and Lill. Are now lined up for pay in P.M. about 2:00. Paid 167.60 [francs]. Not out in evening. Little coffee at night.

Friday, Sept. 27
Nothing doing all day. More spuds, some wine and at Griscourt in evening. Got toothpaste. Heard Austria was showing white flag [suggesting surrender]. Also Turks and Bulgars whipped in field by British.

Sat[urday], Sept. 28
Took bath in Griscourt. Got 10 bars chocolate at Y.[M.C.A.] by getting in line 5 times and jam and can of chocolate Lowneys at commissary. Boucoup [sic] spuds and bread and jam in Y.M.[C.A.], also show put on by some Greggs of Boston, real good.

Sunday, Sept. 29
1 and 4 sections went to some new positions and started digging emplacements. Went in trucks and got dinner there. One of truck drivers wounded by shrapnel in P.M., Ramus I think. Back nearly dark.

Monday, Sept. 30, 1918
Muster at 8:00 and all but those who went yesterday went today. Wilkcoski, White and I fried spuds and toasted and fried bread. Pretty cold and windy, but fire warms up tent. Wrote to folks, telling how to send Christmas package and to Jim [Burwell]. Signed payroll for September.

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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