All posts by cumminsclan

1918 up to 6-3–Camp Sherman

[CMC enlisted 1917-4-17]   On typing paper

CMC Camp Sherman 1918 to 6-3

 

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[Chilicothe, OH]                                                                                                                             2.

 

[Pride is where artillery training took place, see CMC train from Camp Sherman–to 1918-6-11, p. 14]

 

on the hillside. I remember very distinctly of argufying with one of my comrades about those piles of brush. “Sook,” he says, “you can easily see them move. They are surely cattle.” But this was only a visual error as was later proven by closer view of the slope.

Pitched or rather nestled betwixt these two hills is the camp of which I had my first months of enlisted experience of military life. Tis true that I had been a student of military tactics at one of our early training camps, but when the time came for the distribution of commissions, I was in some manner neglected in the count. Those months of training proved so little fruitful for my efforts put forth that I shall refrain from mentioning them further in these pages, however I must not refrain from saying that I was very much disappointed and discouraged at the outcome of my attempt at being an officer, but later with more army experience my discouragement approached a minimum and now I really congratulate myself at my failure.

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On the East side of the camp flowed the Scioto River, with its ever winding run it finally flowed southward with is swelled the waters of the Ohio. To the north and south of the camp the river closed but near the center it widened so as to make a broad level valley for the erection of barracks for the housing of the soldiers, which were for the most part completed by October following the declaration of war. [from the comma, in pencil]

In the center of the camp ran the highway which was ever full with the stream of traffic which is necessary to care for forty thousand men. To stand by the side of this highway in the evening especially when the camp was being created and for awhile afterwards, one might think without due reflection what he was standing on the street corner of some great metropolis and watching the

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I have often wished as I sat on the banks of the old Indian river that I could roll back the waves of its book and read the pages of what it has seen with its own eyes. It could certainly tell some interesting stories if it could only speak what it has seen

It has seen the mound builders, of whom we know so little, build his monster and minute mounds. And too it could tell us all about these aboriginal inhabitants of this camp community with minute accuracy, something which to-day rebukes the lust [?} of Archeologists. For what did they use these little hlllocks of dirt for worship, for homes, for fortifications of the burial of the dead? Scientists have researched these communities and although they are able to find relics and skeletons of these primaeval [sic] inhabitants, they are speechless when it come to an accurate description of these prehistoric events. The river has all this in its memory.

Many are the occurrences of interest to an Ohio historian which

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have occurred in the little valley—in and about the town, Chillicothe which is located at the southern end of the camp.

Chillicothe, the oldest town of the State of Ohio will be to the Ohioan what the city of Rome is to the Italians—the one time metropolis and capital of Ohio. I can see with my mind’s eye those early Kentucky settlers crossing over the Ohio and proceeding northward until they could find a suitable place for settlement. Filled with the hopes of a freer life and of greater opportunity they must have been imbued with a spirit akin to a Aeneid or the spirit of the present day American Crusader who goes forth that he might make the world a more decent and respectable place in which to abide. Well too perhaps there was the spirit of fortune making driving these pioneers northward. But certainly these early possessors of these valleys fought some remarkable battles with the natives for the possession of the spot and its environs. In fact we

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can read about these promiscuous battles penned by an erudite man who must always accompany a group of men as an intelligent leader in their uncertain future success.

The river’s also recorded the fact that this locality was previously used by the Americans as a military camp. The story is told, and I will not vouch for its historicity, of the British plot which which [sic] hatched by some English prisoners stockaded here during the revolutionary war. These prisoners having been retained here for some time decided in the minds [?] of genius that they would make an escape. Escape they would if they must kill all the guards to do it. In fact the nature of the plot was to kill the guards and then escape. Thru the ingenuity of American secret service the plot was disclosed. The criminals were dealt with according to the degree of their crime. They were quietly taken out, four of them, I believe, and

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placed behind a large log. The log was great enough to hide all except their heads. Only these were necessary for the firing squad to practice in volley. The firing squad began the volley and all save one immediately succumbed. He instead immediately leaped and shrieked into the air with the wail of a most distressed creature. A second attempt by the sharpshooters effected the desired result and there the last man lay dead on the sod. The men were buried near the rivers brink, and perchance the river is gradually washing away the interred bones of these unfortunate Englishmen. Ah this true that this valley is not void of all that would give it the tinge of the historical Tower of London or the early battle grounds on English soil. We tend to deprecate things American and turn to Europe for all that is great because of antiquity. America should be proud that it does not possess some of the historical wonders of Europe, such as the entanglements of King successorship, the revolutions, the

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the slaughters, the intrigues caused by religion and King successorship. Why is it that we are prone to worship and admire a thing because it is old? A university degree from an old established center of learning is more precious than that from some of our late American colleges. You ask a young man of American what his college is. He will instantly reply Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, etc., while the one from some of our smaller and less known institutions which do work of equal grade will answer, when asked in a very modest tone, the name of some small or young college. Nine times out of ten, the newer colleges and universities are better equipped and have better buildings and equal professors to the old established schools. In fact I should rather attend a university created in the late half century because the atmosphere about such an institution is more up-to-date. That institution is more or less free from custom and moss covered ideas, which more or less tend to hinder the progress of

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any institution. Such criticism is particularly applicable to certain European institutions, which tend to hold forever to the antiquity of its ways. Of course one must recognize an element of good in such a condition, and such a method is particularly beneficial to some universities, because of the economical aspect—they spend nothing for experiment but take the advantage of others explorations, their mistakes, successes and discoveries.

We should be more appreciative of our country, the history of our cities and towns. In a few thousand from now the different of old world antiquity from that of ours will fade into insignificance, and then too perhaps that peculiarity of our desire of admiration of a thing because of its oldness will functions in our national patriotism. Our country is successful now because it is free from so many of those deep seated and aged differences which exist now in and between some of our European countries. We should be thankful for it.

The old camp with its [unveiled? unrivaled?] historical background seemed to possess the military

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 atmosphere! One could not have chosen a better spot to train our young spirited Ohioans and Western Pennsylvanians than Camp Sherman, Ohio because of its natural location and historicity, and too you may rest assured that the soldiers of the 19th century who were trained on these parade grounds imbibed some of the spirit of these surrounding hills and of the valley.

As I look back upon the days, weeks and yes months that I spent there I cannot help but be forgetful of many of the annoyances that occurred—and they were many—time after time and only think of the many good times we had there and also of the honest endeavors of the people of our homeland, who did most every thing possible to make out days pleasant in the camp.

It was a difficult matter to sever a young man away from his home connections and make a soldier out of him in one day, and figuratively speaking this was the demand made upon the American young manhood in the days

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of the draft. America was and is a peace loving nation and as has been said by many of our foremost statesmen she does not covet any possessions other than that which she possess. This is the doctrine that rang out from coast to coast and was spread abroad from the public platform and newspapers of our great republic, and who should be the most ardent listeners to such a fine sounding doctrine. Those (?) the young Americans, because naturally the burden of (?) fighting was for them to bear, should America declare war.

However, just as soon as the time of I did not raise my Boy to Be a Soldier changed to that of “America Here’s a Boy for you”, we were all ready for the most part to answer that call, and what we helped to do is know by every American citizen. So for a young man to be wrenched from his homelife and place din a military subject to military discipline and all that accompanies it was a very sudden shock. The entire mental attitude and makeup of the young Americans had

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 to be transformed in a night so to speak. One did not know what to expect in a military life. The average American knew nothing of the drill and the fundamentals of tactics and therefore was hazarding a leap in to the great unknown. It should be added, however that he entered th? camp with a keen sense of his duty and with the idea that if he did not make the best of his training he would stand a poor chance to outwit the Boshe in a bayonet combat.

Those first days of training were monotonous was the most part to many and to a few they were enticing and interesting. The routine of it all and knuckling down to the discipline which is necessary for a successful army tended to make the work monotonous.

So much was written during the early days of our war about camp lift that it is not necessary for me to reiterate these experiences in much detail.

I was among the first to enter the camp. It was not then completed. Many of the buildings were in the process of the making. My first experience was in the first of

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 September 1917, and I could write at length about the origin and growth of the camp which is unessential, since the men, and their experiences and accomplishments [last two words inserted] is the crux of my theme.

To see those men come in from all sections of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, one’s mind would revert back to the sheep in a pasture or the

Those men when they first came in! Their eyes and appearance told the story of their inward feeling, which was expressed in “Here I am, take me and do as you please with me.” These men all lined up in their different colored uniforms, ranging all the way from the common worka-day blue overalls to the finest clothes that money could buy, were to say the least a motley sight and indeed that very much unmilitary. That was to come later. This is the thing they were to have in the few weeks following.

These men were lined up by the adjutant of each regiment and so many were sent to each battery or company. Whether a man  The branch of service which a drafted man entered was purely accidental. The enlisted man’s choice [?] had. Some respect was paid

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 [Does this actually follow or go with another doc?] To see these men lined up in single file and distributed reminded me of a famer who had a large great number of sheep and desired to distribute them in his several fields. Or such a condition might be compared with a victor distributing his spoils,–The Adjutant acting as the victor.

Thus distributions were made and whether a better way could be found I know not. However, it seems that better discretion could have been used in pearing [?] many of the men, with whom I later became acquainted.

To see the change in the effect of army life upon the personal appearance of some of these men was marvelous—I remember one chap who had the appearance of a professional pedestrian who gained his livelihood in a beggardly fashion. His clothes were dirty and torn. His hair was long and dirty and unshaven and with all this [?] combination he presented an unsightly appearance. To be forgetful of the day he entered the camp he had taken on an extra swig of booze and was not at all balanced in his step. After he received the attention of the supply sergeant he came out dressed like a soldier and at the end of a month he straightened up and I doubt if his body who had travelled with him on the road would have known him, if he should should he accosted in his new uniform. This man—at least while he was in the army, was benefitted by his training, whether he will continue to be a man after his discharge, I know not.

Those days in camp were not at all times monotonous. Indeed many pleasant remembrances linger in the minds of those who trained there. Those glorious anticipation days when we were to go home on a week end pass and get our feet under our Daddy’s table were pleasant to no little degree and when we we [were, obviously was intended] disappointed a glum ferle [?] of course possessed us. I remember one particular occasion that caused a glum feeling to reign in the camp midst. This occurred just a week or two before we were to embark for abroad. Passes had been issued to the allotted percentage which were to go home on a certain Saturday. This was practically their last chance, but what should happen but that all these passes were

[end of document]

http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=670

Camp Sherman

When the United States entered the First World War in April 1917, the nation was not fully prepared for the war effort. As a result, the government scrambled to create a system for training troops. Camp Sherman, located near Chillicothe, Ohio, was one of the new training camps. Ultimately, Camp Sherman became the third largest camp in the nation during the war. The camp was named after famous Ohioan and Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. Construction began in July 1917, and the first recruits arrived in September. Before World War I ended, more than forty thousand soldiers had received training at Camp Sherman. The camp was eventually home to four different divisions: the 83rd, the 84th, the 95th, and the 96th. The war actually ended before the 95th and 96th were ready to go overseas.

The camp was built on top of Hopewell Indian mounds in the area. Some of these mounds had been destroyed by agriculture over time, but others were bulldozed to make way for the 1,370 buildings constructed at Camp Sherman. The camp was organized like a small city. In addition to barracks and offices used by the soldiers, there were theaters, a hospital, a library, a farm, and a German Prisoner of War camp. German POWs remained at Camp Sherman until September 1919, several months after the war had ended. There was also a railroad system, and the camp had its own utilities system.

Camp Sherman had a significant effect on nearby Chillicothe. It provided employment for many of the community’s residents and housed many soldiers’ families. Local businesses experienced significant increases in revenue because of the influx of population into the area. In addition, the people of Chillicothe tried to improve soldiers’ morale by offering entertainments and hosting soldiers for dinners at their homes.

In 1918, the influenza epidemic arrived at Camp Sherman. Thousands of soldiers contracted Spanish influenza in the late summer and early fall, and nearly twelve hundred died from the illness. Although the community of Chillicothe was quarantined to prevent the spread of the epidemic, some people outside of the camp still became ill and died of the disease.

When the war ended, the camp temporarily functioned as a trades school to educate veterans so that they were qualified for jobs. A hospital for veterans was also established. During the 1920s, the United States government closed Camp Sherman and ultimately dismantled it. Today, none of the original buildings still stand. The land originally occupied by Camp Sherman now has a number of uses. It is home to the Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Ross Correctional Institution, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, a wildlife refuge, and the Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

 

1918-5-23 – Camp Sherman

Camp Sherman, 5/23/18.

Dearest Olive,

Will write you this afternoon. I received your card this morning. No, I have not had my pictures taken. Have not had the time. I was at the Artillery range this morning and had the chance to come home early this forenoon and I took the chance. I travelled in the ambulance to and from the range. Got back about eleven o’clock.

I made arrangements at the community house for you yesterday evening for six days, so rooms are presumably safe there now. They are in very great demand and I thot it best to engage one before I heard from you, as to when you would arrive. Now, if you come Wednesday the room may be found in the city for that evening, so if you can come Wednesday, come by all means—but take your time. There is no use in hurrying so that you will not enjoy your trip. We will be here for a couple of weeks yet anyway, so that will give us some time together, at least a week.

It will be much better for you to live in camp while here and it will be no dearer financially than otherwise. It cost 25¢ each way to go to and from the city. It is three miles to the city. You can get your meals at the community house also and I can continue to mess with the company.

Olive, I am going to leave my two suitcases in your care and you can use these while I am gone. I will not take that leather one with me. I am sorry in a way that I brought it with me, since someone has it borrowed most of the time. The other one is not much good, but serviceable. I will send my trunk home with some of the extras which I have. I do not wish to take anything more than possible. The Gov. will not allow us to take only so much.

We can talk over your future while you are here together with numerous other things. One and the greatest reasons why I do not wish to go is that I do not like to go and leave you—but the time must come. After all the war department has planned elegantly for us. Your school is closing just in time for you to come and visit your husband. They was very kind indeed to us, aren’t they? Guess they did not know anything about our plans though.

I am very anxious for your arrival and will meet you whenever you say. Yours affectionately,

Clyde

See journal

1918-6-5 (up to) Camp Sherman to Camp Mills

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As the engine began to puff yells of joy were heard from most of the boys who were on the train. Every one seemed happy they were soldiers. The train windows were open. The boys were anxious that they be seen by those along the road. They were all proud men and had a right to be.

             All along our journey we were conscious of the fact that the people were with us. All the pretty girls, the old ladies, the men young and old along the way shouted and watched our train until it proceeded from their sight. Many were the men I saw who the minute he saw out troup train would cease their work, take their hats off and shout words of encouragement and good

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cheer. I remember one old gentleman who was working in the fields of New York. He was hoeing corn. The minute he saw us he dropped his hoe, threw his hat in the air and cheered us as long as we could see him. I thot to myself “that man surely has a son in the army,” or perhaps he may be a Civil War veteran.

            You know a Civil War veteran has more feeling for a soldier than most Americans, because he has more experience in common with them. They can understand the hardships of a soldier better than the average civilian. More attention more tribute should be paid these old patriots and veterans than is paid to them. I do

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 not know how it is all over America, but I do know the condition in many parts that I have visited, but as a general rule it is difficult even to have a respectable group to help these old men do honor to their dead comrades on Decoration Day. Such a condition should not exist. If anything many of these men suffered more than the majority of the present day warriors.

            We did not go hungry on this trip thru to the coast. In fact we had to much to eat. We had a good mess sergeant and he saw to it that we had enough grub prepared for our journey. In addition to all this the Red Cross societies would give us sandwitches, coffee cakes etc. One particular place

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one that I shall always remember is Rochester New York. The Red Cross Organization, there as it always is was thoroughly efficient in their work. They were so liberal with their “eats” that we really had too much. We were so well pleased that we wrote a letter of thanks to the leader of that organization. Since that we have had occasions time and again to thank these good people for the work that they did for the boys in France.

Through town after town we traveled. All were tired. We were crowded in the cars. We got all the sleep possible. Card games and reading furnished amusement for the men. Many letters of farewell were

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also written. We had been cautioned from time to time by our officers about disclosing our intention of leaving camp soon. Not a word was to be written about the time of our departure for the coast. However after we were on our way permission was given to write and tell the home folks that we had started towards France. We thought, at least we were going to France. Some said we might go to Italy… Nobody knows anything definite in the army. Sometimes the Private knows more than the general about the planning of troop movement, however that is rare. There is a [‘n’ appears to be crossed out] old familiar saying in the army that an order is never given unless a counter order follows, and that is true [trouble reading last word].

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            We finally arrived at a little town outside of New York City. I have forgotten the name. There we halted until about 12 o’clock at night. We wanted to enter New York or Jersey City early in the morning. I do not know the reason, unless we were ahead of our schedule. Perhaps they objected to our entering the city at night [other constructions possible]. Our entertainment there. Our walks occasional.

Any how we arrived in Jersey City on the morning of June 5th. There was a boat was waiting to transport us to the Island. Many of us paid our first and last respects to the Statue of Liberty that morning.

The music of our band—the band accompanied us the entire route to France–

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comes back to me. As we followed the Hudson, the band played the old familiar tune of Sailing, Sailing Over the Deep Blue Sea” and “The Yanks are coming.” The band helped to keep us in good spirits all along the way.

 

We landed on the Island about noon of June 5th  [Battery D says 6-4]. From there we proceeded by train to Camp Mills, Hempstead New York.

Camp_mills_ny

 

Camp Mills location--larger

Camp Mills location--small

 

 

This was only a temporary camp, fitted for troops who were making ready to embark eastward. Some of the boys were not adequately clothed and here the issue of clothing for overseas duty was completed insofar as possible.

There were no permanent

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barracks here. We lived in squad tents. This experience was new to some of the boys. Of course the majority of the men were housed under canvass while at the artillery range at Pride, Ohio. This town was located about 12 miles from Chillicothe and all our target practicing in artillery was done there. The town itself needs no description because there was no town there save two or three houses. It is one of the most desolate places on earth. [in margin] Only the smiling face of the grocer’s daughters tended to enlighten the dreary place, and a couple or three sergeants [?] had a monopoly on them. [in other margin] It would be an ideal setting of a “movie” with Fatty Arbuckle.

We were certainly sure of leaving Camp Mills soon. All the work of preparation for sailing was hurried. Many inspections were made to determine whether or not the lads had all the necessary clothing.

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Passes were given to many to visit N.Y. City. I imagine that many of our boys visited the city without passes. The military police were not strict in New York at this time, and one was not running as much risk he some took when they later visited Paris. I remember that our company cook took a trip to New York without permission and he was detected in some way and placed under arrest. He was very soon released. We could not do without our head cook.

I know a few who went AWOL in N.Y. while we were at Camp Mills who were not caught. I know that I was one among many. I went Saturday morning and did not

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return till twelve that night, and an certainly glad I did since the passes were stopped the following day. I might say that it is generally considered an honor to do the thing forbidden in the army, providing you are not caught doing it. If everyone were punished who disobey the laws as laid down in the army law book, surely all the officers and men would have charges preferred against them.

It seemed that our entire journey to France and yes to the Rhine, it was one predetermined program of our leaders not to take the troops through a large city. Just about as we were nearing a city we would begin to turn to the right or left of it. There were many reasons for such planning, and I suppose one of the great reasons were due to the prevalent congestion in cities. Perhaps better time could be made by going around such a city. Then too it would be dangerous to take the boys thru the cities, since they might drop off, get tired and be lost.

We were instructed at this place to have our mail addressed in the following manner:

Private Andrew Jones

324 Heavy Field Artillery

American Expeditionary Force

Via New York City

At last June eleventh found us breaking up camp. Orders were given to make ready to make a quick departure to the transport.

[end of document]

 

Camp Mills

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Camp Mills was a military installation on Long Island, New York. It was located about ten miles from the eastern boundary of New York City on the Hempstead Plains near Garden City.

It was named in honor of Major General Albert L. Mills, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Spanish-American War. Initially it was established as temporary tent camp in September 1917 as a place to mobilize the 42nd Division, made up of National Guard units from various states. After the 42nd left for the Western Front in France, the 41st Division followed, occupying the camp from October to November 1917. It was then ordered to be abandoned, but reestablished April 4, 1918, as a part of the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, New Jersey for troops in transit, working as such until Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. It was then used as a point of debarkation for those returning from Europe. In 1919, the camp was ordered to be abandoned and sold, although operations continued until March 31, 1920, when garrison troops were transferred elsewhere. In 1938 Camp Mills was incorporated into Mitchel Field as part of an Air Corps expansion.

A monument to the Rainbow Division in Garden City near the site of Camp Mills was restored and then rededicated on November 11, 2004.

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References

▪   Swanson, Robert Domestic United States Military Facilities of the First World War 1917-1919

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External links

▪   Long Island Studies Institute

▪   UNH: Historic USGS Map “Camp Mills Quadrangle”, Surveyed 1897 (southeast quadrant)

Coordinates: 40°43′28″N 73°36′38″W

This United States Army article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
This military base or fortification article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

Categories: ‪Military facilities in New York | ‪United States Army stubs | ‪Fortification stubs

1918-6-3 To Liverpool

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 To Liverpool, England

On the day of our departure, we had our barracks bags all piled in a heap each with the owners name sewed on the side. Our packs were ready to throw on our backs. Being ready for the final word to march and aboard the train it finally came. Our colonel came and gave us our final camp inspection and asked each of us if we were ready to go. Of course we all answered in the affirmative. It would have been too bad if, after 9 months training for many of us, we were not ready to go. If we were willing was an entirely different question. However we were all willing and ready.

We march in squad formation to the trains and there we found seats marked for each member of our company. I was in the Headquarters Company. The Sergeants

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were to have a seat to himself and the remainder were to fill the seats as full as possible. Of course the officers had their private car.

Our train was a disappointment to us. For several days we had watched the troop trains leave the track and all had sleeping coaches for the men, but to our chagrin and disappointment we had nothing but day coaches—and three days journey! We thot we had been neglected and surely there must have been a mistake, but later in our army experience we decided that we were treated like Dukes on our Journey from camp to New York City.

As the train pulled [manuscript ends]

 

1918-6-3 To Liverpool

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To Liverpool, England.

             At Last when the dawn of June 3rd 1918 opened we were in readiness to aboard the train for New York City. Out company had been entertained by continuous rumor about our place of arrival in New York. The majority of our group started with the idea that we would remain at Hoboken, New Jersey until we sailed, which as will be seen later was another wild story.

That morning of June 3rd was a busy morning. Our boxes and barrack bags were all piled outside ready for the trucks to haul them to the train. The barracks were swept and our packs were gotten ready to sling over our shoulders

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 at any minute at the order of march. [Inserted–] The sign “TO vent” [MSC—not clear] In speaking of cleaning the barracks, I should not neglect a word concerning our care in always cleaning and keeping barracks and roads clean after us. Our artillery regiment had this good name of being very particular in this respect.

The colonel with his adjutant finally came about that morning, gave us an inspection and inquired of each individual if he was ready to go. Of course every man responded affirmatively. Who would have the nerve to step out in front of that company and say that he was not ready, after he had trained for nine months with that same

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group of men. I think that I am speaking for the whole group of boys when I say that we were ready—not only ready but willing. The boys would have been sadly disappointed had they missed the opportunity of crossing the sea.

After the Colonel inspected, the order march was given and we went directly to the train, which was in readiness for us on the track. All our seats were numbered and our names were written on or near each seat.

The sergeant was to have a seat to himself. As a rule sergeants in the U.S. army are treated just about the same by an officer as a private, and as a full

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fledged American, I believe that is as it should be. The thing to be despised worst in the army is that thing relegated from medieval times, which we call class. I which that we might have an army without that word.

           In some respects the army is very democratic, in others it is very aristocratic. It is democratic, because every one when he is drafted or enlists is placed upon an equal basis. A common bum wears the same colored and the same priced suit as the millionaire—again that is as it should be, but just as soon as we cross the borderline in to the commissioned class, that democracy ceases and then aristocracy creeps in. They claim

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 that it is necessary for discipline. That may be, but it is the most cutting thing to an American to withstand, that is to respect and obey a young man with bars on his shoulder, who perhaps was the employee of the private (American) [army?—msc] before the war. However, we can say that in most respects there was and is closer contact between the enlisted men and the commissioned officers than in any other army, unless it be the Canadian.

           We were disappointed that morning. Our train did not suit us. There were no sleeping cars save one and it was for the officers in charge. Surely there had been a mistake! We were to travel three days without sleep. Oh! well we

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 later in our army experience that we were treated like lords on that trip.

            Our departure from camp was in some respects a sad one. We knew that our week end passes had come to an end, and that probably we would never see our people again before the war ended. Very few of us ever dreamed but what we would come back. If we look at the army statistics and note the casualties we will notice that the names recorded there are many in comparison to the time we were in the fight. We Knew, though that those who died  did not do so in vain—rather the opposite. We were not permitted to  Friends were not permitted to visit the leaving trains.

 

1918-6-7 – Camp Mills, NY

[With an envelope, missing its stamp, postmarked Hempstead, N.Y., June 7, 6 p.m., Mills Branch, addressed to Mrs. Olive Cummins, Freeport, Ohio]

Camp Mills, Hempstead, N.Y.   June 7, 1918

Dearest Olive: Yours truly is out of bed feeling fine this morning and I only hope that you people are feeling likewise. The P.O. force was down at Hempstead last eve. It is about one mile down the line. Just makes a nice little evening jaunt. I was will blanketed last night and slept warm. We did nothing in the city except walk around. We tried to find a show of some sort to go to but did not find anything that pleased us so did not go. We have not been checked for our clothing yet. I guess they were around to see us list night, but the office was closed and we were absent. We close at seven o’clock. We are using Eastern time here, so now we have turned our timepieces ahead one more hour. We will soon be getting up the same time we go to bed. It is raining and very wet here this morning, but we have a good tent and have kept ourselves dry. I have had no word from you this Friday morning. I was thinking that it is time mail was getting here from Camp Sherman, but the mail seems to be pretty well clogged up here. In fact we are getting poor service all around. Quite a number of the boys are getting passes to go to the city. Some are going in the daytime and others during the night. I think that I will go down tomorrow, if plans work out well. Still I may defer until next week. The city is always so crowded Saturdays. My writing is poor but my knees are my table. I do have a board to place my paper on. We are fortunate to have paper, pen and ink. Just so you are able to read. When I think that it is definitely settled that we are going to leave I will sign my name in full thusly: Clyde Manson Cummins. You may as well know it as not, if it will do any good, and I can’t see what harm it will do. I am anxious to hear from you to know how you are getting along, and to discover what you are doing, your plans, etc.

Yours Lovingly, Clyde

1918-6-11 to 6-12 Over the Sea

date 6-11 to 12

On YMCA AEF stationery (the first CMC used this)

YMCA AEF stationery,jpg

 

“Over the Sea.”

            I had read many glowing articles in out current magazines about “On Board a Troop Ship” by some correspondent who occupied a stateroom. Oh, what dreams we had of a pleasant journey aboard., but oh, how they were shattered. We had hoped to aboard one of the larger ocean goers. We had visions of state rooms and berths. Visions of calm and peaceful ocean breeze, but never fear we changed our mind we changed our mode of thinking the minute we hit the gang plank for the Liecestershire. This was a british liner. [*]

Leicestershire troop ship

 

 

I wondered how we were all going to board that ship. Certainly they would not treat us as sardines in a can. The stream of American humanity continued to

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missing/misnumbered?

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We all had our places assigned to us the evening of June eleventh. The ordinary civilian would laugh to see how we were crowed in that ship. We slept, ate and loafed in the same twelve nine square feet. The only thing that can be said in favor of such a condition is that everything was handy. That is everything was within reach.

Our allotted space in that ship, for eating, sleeping and loafing was what the average size man has in a home cemetery.

Our beds were the common ordinary hammocks. We hung these over the ceiling just above the tables. Backward and forward they went with each sway of the ship. These hammocks hung

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in such a crowded that with every wave of the ship there would be a corresponding bump against the fellow trying to sleep next to you.

I could never symphathize so much with Noah and his animals on this troop ship. There was but little air to be had in our quarters below. Only an opening through the mid ship gave us air in our den beneath. I can’t see how all those animals lived with Noah for so long with so little air.

True there were port holes in the side of our ship but we did not dare open them since the water would dash through with every waft of the wind or every heave of the steamer.

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            Just before we left to aboard our ship red Cross representatives passed about cards which we were to properly fill out, and have sent direct home as soon as we landed safely overseas. I have often wondered how these Red Cross representatives knew that we were going to land safely. Perhaps they got it over the wires. These reposts were always sent to our people before we crossed the Channel.

As we streamed out of our American port the morning of June 12th all were as quiet as a mouse. Orders had been given to allow no one on deck while we were leaving the harbor. Not a

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missing–end of manscript

 

* LEICESTERSHIRE (1) was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8059grt, a length of 467ft 2in, a beam of 54ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Launched on 3rd June 1909 and delivered on 11th September she made her maiden voyage from Birkenhead to Rangoon. In August 1914 she was requisitioned for trooping for the Indian Expeditionary Force and carried Indian and Burmese troops to the Persian Gulf before reverting to Bibby services in the following November. She was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme in March 1917 and served on the North Atlantic [my color] although two voyages were made for Bibby’s during that time. In 1918 she carried troops to North Russia to assist the White Russians before repatriating Australian soldiers. She was refurbished by her builders in 1919 during which time she was converted to oil burning. As with all conversions to oil the coal bunker forward of the funnel was converted into cargo space and derrick posts fitted to serve the hatch. In 1930 she was sold to the British National Exhibition Ship Co., renamed British Exhibitor, and refurbished for her new role by Cammell Laird & Co. of Birkenhead at a cost of £100,000. When the slump hit her owners went into voluntary liquidation in February 1932 and she was laid up at Southampton for a year. On 28th September 1933 she was purchased by the Cairo based Egyptian Company for Transport & Navigation and, as the Zam Zam, was deployed on their Egypt to Jeddah service. In May 1934 she was transferred to Societe Misr de Navigation of Alexandria without a change of name. Laid up at Suez in October 1939 she resumed service on the Alexandria – Cape Town – New York service in February 1941. On 21st March 1941 she left New York bound for Recife where she embarked 202 passengers and sailed on 9th April. At 0545 on 17th April, although a neutral, she was hit by 55 shells fired by the German raider Atlantis in ten minutes during which around 24 lives were lost. Seven hours later she was sunk with three bombs along the waterline. The survivors were taken aboard the Dresden which proceeded to St. Jean de Luz. It later transpired that the commander of the Atlantis, Bernhard Rogge, recognised her as a Bibby ship and decided that she was disguised as a troopship. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)

 

1918-6-24 to 6-30 Liverpool to Bain de Bretagne

[left Liverpool 6-24, train 6-25, Bordon 6-26, leave Le Havre 6-29, Bain-de-Bretagne 6-30]

Parois-Nixeville-Germonville-Marre

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Liverpool about which I had heard so much! Could it be possible that our dreams could finally have been realized. At last on European Soil. Could I have believed one who would have told me that I would be in Europe at this time. Nothing but the call of war could have done it. Now the pages of English History and all that surrounded in my memory began to flit through my mind. Later however when I had occasion to visit the Islands for as many as four months I had a greater occasion to recall and learn, as well many novel happenings of interest in the beautiful Islands.

The reception of the inhabitants of the city was very pleasing.

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After we had said adieu to the Leicestershire , we were ordered to use of emergency rations which we had carried with us from Camp Mills. The people stood about seeing what sort of people we were. I discover that many English people still think that the majority of the Americans are Indians and equal in kind to the Hottentots of South Africa. Perhaps many were watching us through curiosity to learn what sort of people we were. After eating our lunch we marched through the city, cheered with the best ovation. The inhabitants were very glad to see us, especially those who had sons and husbands in the war.

I thot we never would arrive at the depot. We were all very tired after our sea journey. However the shouts and cheers

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and welcome of the Liverpool inhabitants tended to drive all these languid feelings to the rear, and make us feel gayer. The people would shout from the windows as we passed. Pedestrians on the streets would half and take notice of us, and of course we being soldiers were particularly anxious for everybody to see us. The boys would always take note of every pretty girl seen.

Each step brot us nearer the station. As we entered a British Band played for us. When we arrived there the trains were already waiting for us. Thanks to the splendid arrangements made beforehand. Before we aboarded the train we were each given a slip of paper containing the welcome of King George to Americans troops. We appreciated

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that.

A few weeks after this an American paper came to my notice which told of King George reviewing the troops of the 324th Field Artillery. Fully an half column was devoted to this report in the American paper. King George was not there, but he welcomed us, just the same.

We left Liverpool the afternoon of June 24th. Our train was not crowded and I can say that our entire journey through England to Camp Bordon was a pleasant one. Arriving in June as we did the whole country was awakening from its dormant state of winter. The days were long and I watched the country scenery until nine o’clock infact as long as

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it remained light. The cattle were pasturing in the field. The sheep likewise were feeding on the grass. Occasionally we would see lovers making love by the railro near the railroad. The hills were beautiful. The chalk cliff

As we entered southern England the chalk cliffs began to appear. Occasionally a sharp, shrill whistle of the Engine would signal that we would quickly dash into a tunnel, and there are many tunnels on this southern journey.

Here and there would be a lowly thatched cottage. Row after row of brick houses of the same structure could be seen. These continuous chain of similar swellings approached monotony of vision sometimes, but the surrounding views of landscape tended to lessen this little discrepancy of

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beauty. Each square foot of land seemed to have been touched by the hoe of the farmer. I thot to my self and wondered if America would sometime be so hard pressed to land that she would gave to utilize all the steep hillsides, and certainly that time, will speedily come. All this land along my trip had been touched by the hand of man—not that ruggedness of nature which we have in some parts of America.

We all enjoyed this trip. One would remark to the other: “That scene is beautiful.” Now and then someone would allude to our future in France or wherever we were going. No body know. “Tut, tut!” said I “Let us enjoy the present and not think of what the next few months has in store for us.

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That we generally did.

About three o’clock a.m. June 25, someone shouted “Jump off.” With this command all awakened, slung our packs on our back, ready for another hike to somewhere. We seemed to have landed at the end of things, but with a little time to make ready the officer who had come to meet us, marched us through the entrance to Camp Borden. This camp is about 25 miles N.E. of Southampton. We seemed to have gone there to await transportation across the channel.

Camp Bordon?

Bordon--large scale

 

We passed some very nice barracks, hoping that some spacious rooms were awaiting us with comfortable cots. A few minutes saw us out of sight of these barracks in an open field

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My pal said “Guess we’re going to have to pitch our pup tents tonight.” And I agreed with him. However as we proceeded farther we saw the squad tents ahead. It was getting daylight by now.

Having been assigned to our tents, as many as could possibly sleep in them, we had an early breakfast which had been prepared by English soldiers—principally those who had seen the realities of was and had been disable through wounds and natural causes. We had some good ham at this place. In fact during all the time spent here we had plenty to eat.

Each of us availed ourselves of cleaning up here. There were shower baths and we truly needed a bath after travelling so much by train. Of course

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we had bathing facilities on the ship, but the water was salty which made the use of soap next to impossible, so the baths there were not satisfactory.

This was a lonesome place. A small town lay near the camp, which gave one all the more a lonesome feeling. The Y.M.C.A. afforded us a place to drop a line to those we had left behind over the sea.

We had but a short time to remain in this camp. The noon of June 26th found us on the march for our train to Southampton. We were not sad to leave this camp. It was so situated that everything about seemed dead or dying. We were in the Southern metropolis in a short time.

And now for the boat

Manx Maid_2122

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ride over the Channel. We remained in the city until eight p.m. that evening. The boat was small. We thought we were crowed [sic] on our journey across the Atlantic, but that had nothing on the travel over the Channel.

Everyone aimed to sleep but I’ll venture to say but few made a success of their attempt. I never saw such a pile of humanity as there was about midnight on the floor. I awoke and cast my eyes about, and with a little scrambling I [unreadable] to raise my head enough to look over the tired bunch of Ohians. Sardines were never canned closer.

Occasionally I would awake and someone would be on top of me. The one on top could rest fairly comfortable. I had thot something of remaining on deck and sleeping, but the air was

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too cold, and it was either go below or become very cold, so I chose the former.

A sea plane circled about and followed us for some distance from Southampton. We keep up our zigzag mode of travelling, but at that we were sighting land the morning of June 27. Now we were out of all danger of submarines. Not a man in all our group had been lost thus far.

Now we were ready to visit Le Havre. Here we experienced our first insight into French life. Now we were about to utilize what French we already knew. You know we had school in Americans camps, and there many had studied French. At least most all knew how to say Bon jour, Mademsoiselle, and

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that was enough for some of them. They would usually volunteer to say the remainder.

As we marched along the street the Kiddies would come from the allies and ask us with some mixed languages, “Avec vous, biscuit? Avec vous penny”? The hawkers on the street would follow us and try to sell oranges and chocolate. They had learned from previous Americans troops that we dearly loved our chocolate. The prices were steep, but we wanted such eats and we purchased them.

We marched and marched. Passed though the city. The streets were so narrow in places that when we marched in squad formation they would be full. Up a long hill we went, passing through the residential section of the city, until we came to

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opening to a temporary military camp. There we were introduced to our first military

Here again we had the pu squad tents, and about eight to ten men were placed in each of these. Circular boards Here I had the best bath ever, One of those kind where they close you in a very hot rom until you perspire and produce your own bath through your own sweat. After taking the sweat bath we were admitted to the cold shower and we certainly felt clean when we went though such a thorough cleaning process.

Entirely surrounding this camp was a barb wire fence about ten feet high. We all very much desired to visit the city o pass, but no permits were given. This was real prison life and we

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were treated as such. Guards were placed about all the exits and they halted many of the men who tried to escape unnoticed. Many did escape through [the word ‘search’ is above the space here] passage ways through the fence. I suppose that some troops had preceded us that did not act becoming of gentlemen, and as very often occurs, especially in the army troops are judged according to their predecessors. Anyhow we were penned with little to amuse ourselves.

Women about this fence would try when the guards were not watching slip bottles of wine thru the fence to the boys. The wine was nothing more then watered apple cider, but the boys bit and paid as high as a dollar a bottle for the stuff. These women

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were principally Belgian refugees who had come from the occupied territory to evade the outrages of the Germans.

As luck would have it we were not in this camp very long. We left Le Havre about noon June 29 for somewhere in France.

We were very much surprised to see the mode of conveyance they had waiting for us at the Le Havre depot. We immediately up arrival at the depot looked about for passenger coaches, but to our own sad disappointment we were ordered to aboard box cars, with 38 to 40 men to the car. French box cars are not much more than half as large as the ordinary cars in America. These cars

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were marked in this manner—“40 hommes’

8 Chevans, which meant forty men or 8 horses. We lived similar to horses on that trip too. We did not have room to lie down. Some sat on boxes during the night, and those who tried to sleep, did so very uncomfortably. In fact we went to sleep in quarters. First one leg, then an arm etc. We were lying on top on one another and why shouldn’t we go to sleep in parts?

There was usually one square (or partly square) wheel on each box car, and bumpity bumpity we would jog along.

Again we did not know where we were going, and I have heard later that our commanders did not know.

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I had a map and had carefully traced our route and by examining the box cars I saw that they were billed to Messac. You know they usually bill box cars to certain town and that destination is found on the bill.

We would see other troops on the way and inquire of them if they know for where we were bound. They could not inform. Those of us who could speak a little French would try and converse with French [there is a suffix on ‘French but I cannot make it out] along the route, but usually they could give us little satisfaction. We were a dissatisfied lot at the time.

Luckily again, we were not to remain for a long time on this train. We arrived at a small town by the name of Messac

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in Old Brittany, and since our car was billed there we though that we had reach our destination, but no. We were to proceed to another town. I have heard later that we were travelling on another regiment’s order.

We arrived at Bain de Bretagne the evening of June 30. It was Sunday evening and the people of that village all turned out to welcome us. The ladies all had on their Sunday clothes and we thought we were coming to a very agreeable locality, and I can’t say that we didn’t.

test

5cmc5 [note Guer just to the west.]

1918-6-30 to 8-15 Bain de Bretagne

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Bain de Bretagne

            We arrived at the Bain of Brittany July 30, about four in the afternoon. The inhabitants were donned in their Sunday clothes and had the appearance of funeral attenders, since practically all wore clothes of black. These inhabitants were quite pleased to see us, and no doubt they, too, had expected to see kakki clothed lads with feathers sticking from their hats but we were quite a different lot from that. We more than likely resembled negroes, because of our very black appearance from riding so far in a box car with little opportunity to wash.

We were glad indeed to strike the privilege of washing that Sunday evening. There were

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in an apple orchard near the house. Others sought shelter in the hay mow, while the remainder lived in the upper part of the house which was only partially occupied by French peasants.

The first few nights there I slept on the floor. Knowing that undoubtedly we would remain near Bain de Bretagne for several weeks, I began to look about for some straw to fill my tick. I purchased this from the tenant of the land, and after that I had a very comfortable bed for sleeping. The remainder of the boys did the same thing.

A true soldier very soon learns that he must take car of himself, as well as he can. Time and again one was thrown under conditions that was dis-

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couraging,–and nobody about to tell you how to care for yourself. One must act on his own initiative if he does not suffer, and I usually found that through perseverance some thing could be found to make one more comfortable. If one were to trust to the gods to care for him in the army he would be a corps ere a month of actual service. One thing I have learned: and that is that one can live without any of the present day comforts and luxuries. One needs only to join an active army to discover how little he needs for existence in this world. It is true, however that such a life carries one back to many aspects of savage life.

So we arrived in this town of about two thousand in hab-

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itants in the midsummer months. Twas warm the day we arrived, but usually the weather was not too warm. The climate here was very agreeable. It was a very fine climate in which to drill and train troops,–neither to hot nor too cold—Just a comfortable even temperature. Many of the lads preferred sleeping in their pup tents, thinking that it would be preferable there. Luckily we had but little rain during our stay here.

We had only been here in our new French home five days until the time came when we would have to celebrate the Fourth of July. The French folk knew that American soldiers would not care to have this memorable day pass without some sort of celebration, so they in their very hospitable manner made preparations for a Fourth of July celebration. We, of course

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helped in whatever way possible. We formed inline and passed in review through the main streets of the city. This celebration was quite seasonal since it gave the “Mairie” an opportunity to welcome us as guests of his little city. The Mairie or mayor invited the officers to supper that evening and gave an address of welcome followed by a response by our colonel. Thus our regiment held their celebration in a foreign land. Take an American wherever you will he never forgets the meaning of the Fourth of July. He must celebrate.

[several lines blank]

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            The inhabitants of Bretanny were very sociable. We had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the habits and customs of the people in this community, since we were their visitors for several weeks. They were not long in learning what we want to but most. Soon orders were sent by the shop keepers for chocolate, candy of various sorts. One store purchased a number of articles of clothing which every soldier needed.

There were a countless number of little wine shops. I often thot that I would count the number of shops that dealt in drinks before leaving this village. I make a guess that 30. To an American who was reared in a dry section of the United States this custom was very odd. One could not enter a home unless the host of hostess would bring a

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glass of wine. This was done to show hospitality. A glass of wine means “you are welcome.”

I remember that a friend and I used to take walks through the country when we had nothing else to do, and as we passed the farm houses we would tarry and converse with the people. Five minutes would scarcely pass until the peasant would go to his cellar and bring a pitcher of wine for his visitors. The toast “Vive la France and Vive La America would always be given as the glasses sounded together. One had to partake occasionally of the entertainers would stare in awe, at your appearing unfriendly acceptance.

These people could not understand why we should be

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be such lovers of water. They drank wine. Water was no good for them. The peasant when be went to the fields to work would throw his canteen over his shoulder, filled with wine. The wine commonly used by these poorer classes of people way nothing more than apple cider and very poor quality at that.

These peasants lived in a very peculiar fashion. A floor in their kitchen was an exception. They sometimes are and slept in the same room. There was nothing costly to be seen in the way of costly furniture. Surely such a condition is the only subsequent of their meager pay. They only received about three francs for a days work, which is only about sixty cents in our money.

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            These people seemed to prefer living in groups. Sometimes in my walks thru the country I would see four to six houses in the country, all built in a cluster. The most of these houses were very old—some had stood the weather several hundred years. One would mostly see old people around these small clusters of houses. Perhaps a few children and their mothers. The men were either dead or at the front, but those who were left at home were still plodding away to keep those at the front as comfortable as possible.

Now and then one would see a Chateau owned by someone more fortunate insofar as wealth goes. Everything about such a home would be clean and uptodate in every way[.]

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            I remember one in particular which faced out little city. It was a beautiful home—surrounded by a forest. In the large yard flowers were planted about the house. The placed [sic] had enough quaintness about it to make one wish to tarry for a moment and which that he could converse more freely in their native tongue. The occupants of such home are usually intelligent and know well the history of their surrounding country. Occasionally I found someone who knew English very well and by the process of questioning and at the same time giving him a little information I could discover a number of things of historic interest about the place.

One of the best customs which the former inhabitants

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of this section of the country had was that of setting out trees along the roadside. Every lane in and about the small towns in this section of Britanny [sic] was finely decorated with trees on either side. These lanes would wind in and around to the houses in the country. These byways were very narrow and here and there the top of the trees would meet and form archways over the road.

There were no wire not rail fences here. The fences are very odd to an American[.] Heaps of dirt follow these by ways on both sides, and too this sort of fence would separate the fields. They were practically worthless and occupied considerable space, which might have been cultivated instead[.]

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We have an expression in English Ugly as a mud fence. Perhaps the derivation such an expression has its origin from these mud fences which are so prevalent in and about Bain de Bretagne. The fences served as places for wild blackberries to grow and when I first saw the fruit I supposed that these people were very fond of berries, but to my surprise they never touched there [sic] blackberries but let them waste and wondered how we relished them so. We told them we knew what was good.

On the average these people did not have too much to eat. Their main food seemed to be bread, butter and wine. Of course among those who had more money, a differ-

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ent condition existed. One evening I decided that we should have a surprise on one the my corporal friends. I proposed that we take the Corporal to dinner that evening under the pretense that we were only going to have a little drink of some sort. That evening we had an eight course dinner. I have never seen a better dinner but before man in my life. The cook was just late from Paris and she possessed all the characteristics of a French cook, believe me. In only give this show that some of the people in the community had plenty to ear, and we could get it if we paid well for it. The 324th F.A. left that town much richer than they found it.

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            Just below the town was a small lake, which nature had put there , and I suppose this was the origin of the towns name, since the Bain In French means bath. No doubt the inhabitants used to bath in this lake. Perhaps people would come from a distance to bathe in its waters, but now it is filled with groz [sp?], and the bottom is so muddy that one was dirtier when he came out than when he entered. We were ordered to bathe in this little lake at first, but later a much better place was found about one and a half miles distant. There the clear waters of the river Senucon [?] flowed. It was a very small river but the water was very clear and altogether acceptable for a plunge.

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[Ille-et-Vilaine: Teillay, Ercé-en-Lamée, Lalleu, Tresbœuf, La Bosse-de-Bretagne, Bain-de-Bretagne, Pancé, Pléchâtel, Poligné, Bourg-des-Comptes—municipalities along Semnon]

[pages missing]

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in the fields. I was much surprised to see how these women worked both in the house and in the fields. They did more work than the men. Perhaps that accounts for their small living quarters. Such a woman would not have the time to care for more than a room or two.

The barns were oftentimes built in with the house. The chickens and cow lived in the same building with the people. Only a partition separated them. The people are not sanitary in our American way. The first thing that our boys did where we occupied the town was to clean it up. Brooms were put on the streets and the barnyards cleaned up. Much of this filthiness undoubtedly was due to the war

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The people were apparently to much occupied in other things.

We had remained here for five weeks. Miniature battlefields had been set up and practice on. Scouting parties had roamed the country for miles around. Some of the neighboring meadows were worn from the constant drill of the men.

We had become strongly attached to the people of Bain and they hated to see us leave. We have given them a liberal sum of money to maintain the orpans [sic] of their town. Some of the boys had fell in love with the boys of the town [well, I think CMC lost the thread of his sentence, but I could be wrong]. All things considered it was not an easy matter to leave the town. We had somehow become attached to the place, but we were not to remain here long. It was

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really only and [sic] accident that we were here. We were only waiting until a vacancy could be made for still further training in Camp Coetquidan.

We left Bain Aug. 15th with an ever standing invitation from its inhabitants to visit them whenever we could and later while we were in Germany [inserted above—‘During the Watch On The Rhine’] some of our boys returned to see the old friend whom they had made there. Au revoir Bain de Bretagne!