WWI Diary | Intro | Travel | In France | In Hospital | Back To Duty | In Baccarat | Left Baccarat | Back To The Front | To Tismes | Wounded | Intense Action | Relieved By French | Into Belgium | Hiking Again | Year 1919 | Final Moves |

In France

Feb 20, 1918
Made a money order out to Helen for the sum of $40 which cost only $15 to mail same. Wrote to M Neal and Helen.

Feb 24, 1918
All regiment attended Mass at beautiful church in Luneville.

Feb 26, 1918
Received two letters from Helen dated Jan 14th announcing Bessie Kelly's birthday. Received the letters just as I was detached to the First Battalion for signal work. Left Luneville.

Mar 2, 1918
Had two meals and they were sure small.

Mar 3, 1918
Of course on Sunday, as usual, I had to work and became involved in the war because the game sure is good and sure is exciting and the first day I passed under German fire. Passed a German soldier's grave about one mile and a half behind front line trenches.

Mar 4, 1918
A large snowstorm and frequent firing of canons which fell very close to our signal station. Found a shell that never exploded fell near the road.

Mar 5, 1918
On the evening of this day I received a letter from Edg. Gilchrist Sgt. Company A Officers Training School.

(Click here to visit a site where the tragic events of March 7, 1918 are recounted.)

Mar 7, 1918
Life saved by being switched from Rocroy to Chausildes and two killed. E. (Edwin) Kearney and (Arthur) Hearvey - 20 dead - 1 lieutenant

Stephen L. Harris, author of "Duty, Honor, Privilege" and "Harlem's Hell Fighters," while researching his next book about WWI, revealed that, "Joe had been assigned from Headquarters Company to E Company when the second battalion went into the trenches for the first time in the Luneville sector. Where he was to be stationed was in Rouge Bouquet. First Battalion was struck that day by artillery fire that buried most of the men, killing over twenty. Later, Joyce Kilmer wrote his poem 'Rouge Bouquet.'
Three men from Headquarters Company were assigned to that hell hole. Joe was one of them, but got transferred elsewhere."
This is what his diary entry meant when he said, "Life saved by being switched . . ." - Kearney and Hegney were his pals from HQ.

Mar 11, 1918
One Polack from drafted army shot for desertion at 8:30 am

Mar 13, 1918
Wrote a letter to Helen. Very soft hearted one. Eleven months in the service.

Mar 14, 1918
Boche (Germans) play a little music with their large guns but no damage amounting to anything. One fellow shot through the muscle of his arm. Company K boys. My 15th day in the trenches and everything the same as ever. Sweet dreams of you Helen and of having a wonderful time.

Mar 16, 1918
No breakfast. A letter to Helen. Damp weather with the Germans busy with their torpedo guns. Rats and cooties our worst enemies. A cootie hunt every day.
(For an interesting review of how miserable life could be in the trenches, click here.) A cup of coffee and bread for dinner, stew, bread, and coffee for supper.

Mar 17, 1918
Barrage from 4:30 am - 6:00 by the Germans. German's ammunition plane blown up - one airplane brought down. Left Brussels and went to Ostend.

Mar 19, 1918
The Boche waited until we finished our bombardment and then they gave us ours, breaking all our lines of communication by shooting shrapnel and torpedoes and 150m at us and it sure was some bombardment. Rain and very muddy evening settled down and had us uncomfortable. Bed 9:30pm. Airplane of Boche flies along our front line trenches. By doing this he started all the bombardment.

Mar 20, 1918
Awakened 9:45 am. Bread and coffee breakfast. The Germans are at it again with frequent shooting starting. Go cootie hunting after sleeping without any underpants because of these pests. Had no supper because of the Germans sending a heavy bombardment of gas shells starting 5:30 pm and stopped 10 PM after we had fixed 20 breaks. One boy's arm shot off and many fellows injured. The worst gas attack ever pulled off by them and many shells bursting around my dugout. Bed 12:30 am but little sleep. Gas mask on for 5 hours and it is no joke.

Mar 21, 1918
French and Germans have a duel bombardment. Three of our fellows carried away (names). The gas almost blinded the whole Company K and put all the boys in the hospital and left nobody to protect guns. Many boys of our platoon carried away - all gassed nothing to eat for breakfast, dinner of coffee and bread, and same for supper. A successful raid carried out by the French bombardment yesterday. There were no German's alive when our boys went over the top. They were all dead in their dugouts. I'm on watch and my eyes are starting to blur. Germans sending over more gas. I am very tired.

Next page

165th Infantry at Coismare
The 165th Infantry at Coismare
-- March 2, 1918 --

For a detailed graphic description of conditions
endured by soldiers in WWI, visit the
War Diary of Private Frank Last.
It's an amazing, well-written story.

See the WWI diary of Nathaniel (Nat) Rouse,
another veteran of the Fighting 69th.