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Full text of "Going and coming as a doughboy"

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Going and Coming 



as a 



Doughboy 




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Going and Coming 



as a 



Doughboy 



By ELMER H. CURTISS 
Formerly of Company K, 161st Infantry, Sunset Division 

and 
Company H, 102nd Infantry, Yankee Division 



Copyright Applied for September 25, 1920, by 
ELMER H. CURTISS 



PRESS OF 

F. A. STUART <i^^ THE PRINTER 
PALO ALTO. CALIFORNIA 



4286GO 




ELMER H. CURTISS 

Formerly of Company K, 161st Infantry, Sunset Division 
and Company H, 102nd Infantry, Yankee Division 



Going and Coming as a Doughboy 




;ITH a suitcase well packed with things I expected to 
need on the journey I left San Francisco for Kaiser 
Bill's dugout November 3, 1917. I stepped off the 
train at Camp Lewis exactly three days later. We 
spent that day answering to roll call, getting a 
physical examination, assignment to quarters, lis- 
tening to instructions on army life, standing in line to get our 
equipment, and sending our civilian clothes home. 

We were called out at 5 : 45"^ the nexH morning for our first 
reveille, and lined up for exercise aV 5 :30. The morning was 
bitter cold. After breakfast we drilled for four hours. We 
hiked three miles after dinner to get a thorough physical exami- 
nation and our first typhoid innoculation. My arm was very 
sore, and two men fainted near me. Out of 40,000 men in the camp 
700 of us were picked to start to Camp Mills the next afteroon. 
As our sixteen-car train passed through Seattle we shook 
hands with hundreds of pretty girls who swarmed along the 
sides of the train. We took a run in Spokane the next morning. 
At Troy, Montana, the people turned out with fruit and candy. 
Minot, North Dakota, met us at 11 o'clock at night with hot 
coffee and a regular banquet, anything almost that we wanted. 
We paraded in Minneapolis for the exercise. This stunt was 
repeated at St. Thomas, Ontario, and at Niagara Falls, where 
we crossed over to the American side. 

At Camp Mills I was assigned to Co. K, 161 Infantry, made 
up mostly of the Washington National Guard. My first task 
was carrying wood for the kitchen. This work was interrupted 
frequently by drill calls, various shots in the arm, or some kind 
of an inspection. Our quarters were squad tents. The assign- 
ments of ten men to a tent made moving around difficult. 

In the morning we were given only five minutes to dress in the 
bitter cold. We were immediately given some vigorous exer- 
cise which would warm us a little. We then went to the mess 
kitchen, drew our rations and ate them out in the open in front 
of our tents. We were taught not to throw anything: away, and 
encouraged to obey this rule by the guard posted over the 
garbage can. 

An officer told us all about the advantages of War Risk In- 
surance and I took the limit, $10,000, which cost me $6.70 a 
month. I received my second shot in the arm immediately after 
signing for my insurance. 

We received rifles and ten rounds of ammunition November 
22. That day I walked three miles to a hotel and got a bath. 
There was no charge for soldiers who furnished their own soap 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



and towel. I washed out a pair of sox and hung them under 
my bed to dry. They were frozen the next morning. After 
that I got up every morning at 2:30 and started a fire to keep 
from freezing. 

I spent Thanksgiving in New York. My ticket cost me $1.20. 
That left me 30c for candy. The next day we hiked 15 miles, 
carrying our rifles. It was chow time when we got back and 
we lost no time scampering to the mess hall. The next day we 
practised squad and platoon drill in our company street. A 
large blister on my left heel kept me wide awake all the time. 

At night we usually chipped in and bought a pie or two and 
sat around swapping yarns. One night a sailor who had just re- 
turned on a ship which had carried officers to Engrland spent 
the night in our tent. 

My squad was on fatigue in December. We did all kinds of 
work around camp, including K. P. The marking of our cloth- 
ing at this time led us to believe we would be leaving shortly. 
We worked for several days on a large ditch to carrv off storm 
water. 

When the wood supply in our tent was exhausted we organ- 
ized a foraging party and came back loaded in no time. Then 
we made a fire that would have warmed up the DeVil himself. 

I received my 4th shot in the arm early in December. The 
Q.M. was busy boxing all supplies and material on hand. I be- 
gan breaking in my trench shoes, and my sox, which were 
about a quarter of an inch thick, never kept my feet warm. 

One of the boys in my tent was sick, and we were out under 
quarantine. The doctor never even came to see the fellow to see 
what was the matter. That night I washed a suit of underwear 
and dried it in front of the stove. We sat around the next day 
raising Cain, picking dust out of the air, and waiting for Saw- 
bones to inspect us. 

I had an awful appetite the next day. I made seconds on the 
stew, hot prunes, and coffee, and put away 7 slices of bread. 
Snow the next day was followed by rain and a young cyclone 
which kept all hands holding the tent down. There was a bread 
shortage the next day, and we bought a 15 cent loaf for the 
bunch. 

December llth we packed everything in our barracks bags and 
shipped them ahead. We emptied the straw out of our ticks, 
turned in our cots, and had nothing to sleep on for two nights. 
We stood in line four hours on the dock in Hoboken before we 
were checked off and allowed to board the "President Lincoln/* 
which was a former Boche freighter taken over by the govern- 
ment and converted into a transport. 

After we had found our bunks on the third deck I managed to 
get a few lines started to the home folks by way of the tug which 
drew up alongside after we left the harbor. After lying at 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



anchor for two days we started across via the long southern route 
in order to avoid submarines and icebergs. I was glad to get 
my feet on solid ground again after eighteen days at sea and 
two more at anchor outside of Brest. 

We were taken off in lighters and marched immediately to 
the train. Here we had our first glimpse of German prisoners 
of war loading coal under guard. At first glance the French 
freight cars seemed about the size of a match box and capable 
of holding about a dozen men, but by the time they called our 
car loaded there were forty-two of us packed into the car like 
sardines. 

It was the last day of the old year. We feasted on corned 
Willy and trench pastry, called hard tack in the history books. 
Sleep was out of the question. We swapped yarns instead of 
throwing confetti and blowing horns as we stood there in the 
swaying car, so close that when one man moved the whole 
crowd moved. 

Our first stop was for two days. We were lucky enough to 
get a little straw on which to spread our blankets out under the 
stars. Then we were shipped on to Mehon where we unloaded 
our packs. My squad was detailed to handle the supplies. We 
were glad, for it saved us a long hike and we were very tired. 
As we rode along that five miles of ice-covered road I thought 
the truck would skid off the road every minute. 

The coffee served to us by the French was stronger than Atlas 
with no sugar nor milk. 

January 12th it rained all night, melting the snow, and the 
next morning we started building railroads. The hardest part 
of this work was lifting the steel rails and ties soaked in water. 

I received my first pay January 25th, amounting to 264 francs. 
I started 200 francs for home in the first mail. The Y. M. C. A. 
had just completed a splendid building containing a stage, pool 
tables, reading and writing tables, best of all a canteen where 
we could buy a number of articles. 

January 29th I received a package from home containing some 
oil of wintergreen which helped a cold I had been unable to 
break up. We had to get up at 5 :45 and be out at 6 for fifteen 
minutes exercise. By this time we had finished our mess hall 
and no longer had to eat out in the open where we were always 
cold. 

February 6th a man was discovered in my company who had 
been sent over by mistake. It seems that he had a wife and one 
child dependent upon him for support. 

We had a hard time getting used to French time. 1 p.m. with 
them is 13 o'clock, 2 p. m. 14 o'clock, etc. 

February 9th I received a box containing fruit cake, peanut 
candy, nigger toes, and a pair of gloves from my father. I 
managed to get a pass to town Sunday. Joan of Arc lived there 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



at Mehon for some time, part of the time in a large tower 200 
feet high. We paid the woman at the entrance 15 sous and were 
permitted to climb to the top of the tower from which we 
could see the level country stretching away for miles on every 
side. We could see one of the numerous French freight canals 
running through the village. 

We visited the dungeon where political prisoners were kept, 
and then went over to a very beautiful church. We could not 
see much of the church, as services were being held just then, 
so we left in a few minutes and went to a French cafe, where we 
ordered eggs, potatoes, bread, butter, and wine. 

Our next stop was at a photograph shop, where we went 
through the agony of posing for a picture. The price was 8 
francs for a dozen to be finished within a week. 

After the railroad was completed we built three warehouses 
for storing ammunition, 1000 feet long and 100 feet wide. My 
company unloaded a string of forty cars in one night. Each car 
contained an average of 140 boxes of French 75 shells, six to a 
box. These were used principally in shooting at aeroplanes or 
for barrages in small attacks. We had to work fast to keep 
warm. 

February 21st I was paid 64 francs, and I sent some more 
money home. I was doing guard duty at the warehouses, four 
hours on and eight off. We had to walk two miles to get to 
our posts. It took me fifteen minutes to make the rounds. 
When relieved we spent our time sleeping or talking. There 
were five of us together, so we did not get lonesome. 

One day I was put on what we called the "Cossack Post." We 
had a tent full of dynamite and blasting powder for the en- 
gineers. It was placed out in a large open field. We had to 
walk around and around this tent all night, with fixed bayonets. 
I solved the problem by getting a box on which I could sit 
down when I got tired. I placed it where I could spot any 
one immediately who tried to sneak up on me. 

I received my photos February 28th. Gas masks had just 
been issued to us, and we certainly looked like monkeys. -I 
thought for a while that the weight of my steel derby would 
dislocate my neck. 

When orders came for us to move we packed up our belong- 
ings and boarded a train of third class coaches, eight men to a 
compartment. The train stopped at the first village, where I 
gave a Frenchman ten francs to get us some nuts. He came 
back with about a bushel, which soon disappeared. 

After a long ride we were unloaded and drilled a while in a 
large field. Few of us had any idea what was coming, as the 
officers would not tell us anything. Two days travel landed 
us at Men La Tour, the supply base for the Toul front, about 
eight miles back of the lines. 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



We could hear the roar of the guns and we could also see an 
occasional flash on Mont Sec where the French lost 35,000 men 
in half an hour trying to hold the death trap after they captured 
it from the Germans. We had men up in observation balloons 
so high that they could see everything that was going on and 
could direct our artillery fire. Now and then they were at- 
tacked by Boche planes. If the Boche got close enough under 
cover of a cloud to set fire to the balloon the observer had to 
come down in a parachute. 

After a hike along a muddy road we found our quarters in 
the woods about nightfall. We piled our packs and rifles on 
the mud and unloaded our supplies which had to be carried a 
considerable distance to our mess kitchen. Every one helped, 
and the job was soon finished. We had the time of our lives 
trying to locate our packs in the darkness as no lights were 
allowed. The barracks which were to be ours for a few days 
were not yet completed and were also filled with snow. I found 
a thick coating of ice on my bunk, but I was so tired that I had 
no trouble sleeping until the bugler got started at 5.45. 

It took us two days to finish the roofs on the barracks and 
install some stoves which warmed them a little. The mud, 
however, remained very much the same. Our shoes frequently 
sank to the tops. 

The Germans sent enough shells over to keep us on the watch 
for gas. While on guard we had to be especially watchful, chal- 
lenging every one. When the gas alarm sounded we were to 
run through the barracks and give the alarm. One morning 
while I was sleeping the guard gave the alarm and we had to 
wear our masks for two and one half hours before we could 
take them off. The gas sergeant went back and forth and nab- 
bed any one who took off his mask. The punishment was walk- 
ing around wearing our masks three or four hours the next day 
under guard, so we kept them on as ordered. 

My company was put at work digging trenches six feet deep 
for telephone cables. Overhead or surface lines were not a 
success, as even the concussion of the bursting shells seemed 
to cut the wires. We usually laid four one inch cables in each 
trench. We passed through several villages, until we reached 
Beaumont. We had been under shell fire every day, and it was 
particularly intense here, where they gave us gas every night, 
and we kept our masks at alert all the time. After the slightest 
warning of the gas guard we would all be masked in six seconds. 

A Klaxon horn which could be heard for miles was the gas 
alarm most popular with us. The French sometimes used 
church bells. One Chinaman in my company had such a broad 
flat nose that the nose clip on the American mask would not 
fit. He used a French mask which slipped over his whole face, 
so that he breathed through medicated gauze. 



8 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



We were the constant targets of Boche snipers who were 
watching for a chance to pick us off. One night a Boche drop- 
ped two bombs near us from a plane. We knew it was a Boche 
by the peculiar hum of the German motors. The explosions 
shook us up considerably, but we could not find where the bombs 
fell the next day. 

March 9th we set our clocks and watches ahead an hour, and 
we found the mornings a little darker and much colder for a 
while. Our vigorous exercises always warmed us up consider- 
ably, however. I had my hair clipped close, and my head felt 
much cooler in the heat of the day. 

There were two dangerous places near us. We crossed one 
place called Hell's Half Acre. Another place was called Dead 
Man's Curve. It was a good name, for the Boche had a good 
view of that bit of road and were ready with their shells every 
time anything passed in the daytime, and they shelled it con- 
tinually at night. 

We were sorry to hear of the sinking of the ship which 
brought us over. It was homeward bound, so few lives were 
lost. 

While we were out working an aeroplane was hit by shrapnel 
which damaged the propellor and the wings. It landed near 
us, and we went over and took a look at it at lunch time. We 
were careful to remain at a respectful distance, as we were 
afraid the Germans might use the plane as a target. 

Constant rain made each day like the last. The Y. M. C. A. 
established branches in our vicinity where we could buy a few 
things, write letters, have some music, which we all enjoyed, 
or play a game of checkers. 

We all had to go into a gas tester for five minutes. After 
trying our masks for the length of time we had to take them 
off and take a whiff of the; gas so that we would be able to re- 
cognize it during an attack. The tear gas made my eyes watery 
for a long time. 

April 16th, while we were working at our ditch job, shells 
began dropping mighty close. We all Jumped into the ditch 
and wished It was six feet deeper for a while. 

I slipped in the dark the night of April 19th and cut a painful 
gash in my knee cap. Then my luck turned. I found a ten 
franc note which came in mighty handy as I happened to be 
financially embarrassed. Then a box of candy arrived from 
home. Nothing ever tasted better. . 

While I was wondering how I could manage to get a photo- 
graph of myself and all my equipment up there under shell fire 
I discovered a French artilleryman billetted in the woods near 
by who had a special permit from the French government for 
doing this kind of work. I finally made him understand what 
I wanted by making an initial payment of tobacco, of which I 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



had a good supply as I seldom smoked. I paid him eight 
francs for a dozen pictures. 

I received 128 francs for February and March. The govern- 
ment commissary truck came around to us every other day, so 
that we could buy all the cakes, tobacco and candy we wanted, 
and best of all, canned fruit, which drew many a franc from 
my pocket. It helped to keep me healthy, and some of the 
pies I got by taking a big can to the mess kitchen were cer- 
tainly great. Of course the cook got his share, but they were 
worth it. 

Prices were very reasonable, only a little above cost. A large 
can of peaches cost one and one half francs or thirty cents. Soda 
crackers were thirty centimes or six cents a carton. 

April 27th orders were issued prohibiting the people at home 
sending packages to us, in order to make room for ammunition 
and other necessary supplies. I sold a watch that refused to 
run for seventeen francs. I have never seen the man since, 
so I supose he and the watch are still going. 

We tore down our barracks and moved up through the woods 
to a position close behind some of our big guns which were 
firing at Metz. How the ground did rock ! I had a tremendous 
appetite and seldom got enough to eat. I ate heartily, but I 
was still hungry after many of my meals. I ate canned apri- 
cots when I could get them, and the mess sergeant let me fry 
eggs in my mess kit. I bought them in a village near by. The 
day we moved I received a large supply of envelopes, enough 
to last me until I might have a chance to ask the Kaiser for 
some. 

I received a card from Washington acknowledging the re- 
ceipt of my application for insurance. While the third Liberty 
Loan was in full swing I suggested that any one owing 
the Kaiser some money might make him happy by sending him 
a bond. 

Butter was worth six francs a pound, eggs cost four francs, 
sugar could not be had at any price, but my bunkie and I man- 
aged to get a dandy peach pie. We had general inspection Sat- 
urday morning of all our equipment, including rifles, beds, sox, 
underwear, blankets, towel, soap, tooth paste, brush, comb, and 
razor. Sunday they let us sleep till 7:45, a real treat to us 
tired boys. 

We were getting more and more accustomed to the hardships, 
but most of us had decided to postpone our immediate return 
home, as the Kaiser seemed to be deeper in than many of us had 
thought. The next day we had a terrible thunderstorm and the 
heaviest rain we had seen for weeks. 

Mail call after lunch May 9th came while I was lying down 
resting a while, but I was up and after it as usual, and was re- 
warded by six letters. We all wrote home Mother' Day. We 



10 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



had all been urged to do so, but I needed no encouragement. 
The boys kept the graphaphone in the Y. M. C. A. running 
ragged. 

We had a ball team and we played many a hot game with 
the 23rd Engineers who were billetted in the woods close by, 
and with the observation balloon men, who found time, once 
in a while for a game. 

I sent my mother congratulations for her birthday coming in 
July, telling her I was sorry I could not be at home that day, that 
we were moving all the time from one place to another, and 
that it seemed just like beating it out of rooming houses without 
paying rent. 

I had so much trouble keeping my rifle clean that I made a 
case for it. I had to spend a lot of time cleaning it, for I did not 
like the idea of getting any extra duty for having a dirty rifle. 
The least speck of dust was considered grounds for a "bawling- 
out" before the whole company. At the same time my gun 
was always ready for any emergency. 

One morning while my company was going to work we were 
turned back by some Military Police who said the Boche had 
broken through the lines and were attacking the village of 
Sicheprey. The Americans in the village were outnumbered, 
but they held on stubbornly while we went back to our barracks 
in the woods, where we wasted no time getting our rifles and 
ammunition. We were lined up and given instructions in range 
rinding and handling ammunition. We were even shown how 
to eject the empty shells from our rifles. The Boche soon hit 
the back trail, after a sharp fight at close quarters, with ma- 
chine guns, rifles, and bayonets. Both sides lost heavily. 

I was put on K. P. duty May 16th. After a day of scraping 
kettles, peeling spuds, and serving chow my pal and I got passes 
to the village. A long walk took us to a small restaurant near 
Men La Tour, where we feasted on scrambled eggs, fried pota- 
toes, and lemonade which seemed to have considerable kick. 
We managed to make known our wants with the few French 
words we knew, aided by gestures. Beer signs were scarcer 
than hen's teeth, and with all our rubbernecking we failed to 
locate one. 

The Y. M. C. A. tent in Aunseville was hit by a shell which 
partly demolished it, luckily at night after the canteen was 
closed. I will never forget that place nor the three cups of 
hot chocolate I drank there one bitter cold day while the snow 
was still on the ground. A few boys just back from the front 
were sitting there eating cakes or whatever they could buy. I 
sat down and asked them a few questions so I would know what 
to do if I was rushed up front in an emergency. 

Two spies were caught in our vicinity. One Boche at Mandre 
dressed himself as a peasant woman and went around leading a 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 11 



cow. When a bunch of soldiers were passing the cross roads 
he would signal with his rope, and the Boche gunners made a 
good many hits until a French officer saw a trouser leg one 
windy day. The firing party was on the job in about two 
minutes. 

The Boche had a young French boy perched in the garret of 
an old abandoned stone house. When supply wagons, ammuni- 
tion carts, or troops were passing a certain point the boy signal- 
ed with a pocket flashlight until the French caught him. 

May 22nd we were treated to a band concert under shell fire. 
The music sounded mighty good to us. The flies were getting 
thick, and increased our discomfort considerably. The whole 
country was green by this time, and the birds never stopped 
chirping throughout the night. We wondered if the shell fire 
kept them awake. I slept whenever I got the chance, for I 
never knew what night I would be wakened by a gas alarm or 
shell fire. 

As I was going to town to the dentist I saw several old French 
people busy in the fields. One old man was plowing with a 
donkey, a horse, and old Nellie, the family cow a queer com- 
bination. 

Orders came for another move May 29th. After packing our 
belongings and wrecking our barracks we loaded everything on 
trucks, rode four miles, and were then given until nightfall to 
erect them again. We got the mess hall busy first, and then had 
our shelter all complete before dark. 

Then orders arrived to break up our company and use it for 
replacements. We hiked twelve kilos to Men La Tour, on the 
Toul front, where we were billetted in what had once been the 
Red Cross hospital. The patients had all been moved back to 
a base hospital, following a threat by the Boche to bomb the 
place. We were glad to get away from there. 

We spent June 1st turning in all excess baggage to the Quart- 
ermaster. The next day I landed a K. P. job. The mess ser- 
geant was trying hard to spend our mess fund, and we had 
meat, potatoes, salad, olives, jam, gravy, lemonade, and bread. 
The time of our feasting was short, for we had our last roll 
call June 5th. Our officers and friends shook hands with us 
and bade us good luck. With the cheers of a few non-com- 
missioned officers who were left behind ringing in our ears, we 
boarded a string of little flat cars and pulled out on the narrow 
gauge railroad to Bouc where we were given the choice of four 
companies. 

I chose Co. H. 102nd Infantry, in the 26th or Yankee Divis- 
ion. We lined up for chow, consisting of a little soup, bread 
and coffee, rested a little while, and then started off on a forced 
march of about 15 kilos. We carried all our equipment, and 
the new rock surface on the road made walking far from easy. 



12 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



For hours I felt like dropping with fatigue, but I stuck it out. 
When we entered an old stone building at 2 a. m. and threw 
our packs on the ground I was all ready to join the all down 
and out club, and for once I paid no attention to the shells flying 
overhead. 

The building was half wrecked already by shells, which had 
nearly demolished the whole village. Mandre had a population 
of 1000 before the war, but every one had been driven out at the 
beginning. I needed no second invitation to hunt up the mess 
kitchen the next morning. It was camouflaged in an old stone 
building in order to hide the smoke in the daytime, for the 
Boche shelled the place at the slightest sign of life or activity. 

The town was full of dugouts. Signs were posted telling how 
many men they would hold, and their location, so that we would 
know just where to go in case of an attack. We saw air bat- 
tles or enemy planes every day, coming over in search of in- 
formation and taking pictures of the village. 

I sold a lot of stuff that I did not need, keeping one extra 
suit of underclothes, two blankets, two pairs of sox, a towel, a 
shaving outfit, and my reserve rations, consisting of four boxes 
of hard tack and one can of beef. 

After a few days we were moved to a part of the town which 
drew less shell fire and quartered in an attic reached only by 
a very shaky ladder. I made a bed out of grass which was plenti- 
ful everywhere. I went out in several working parties at night,, 
fixing barbed wire entanglements in front of our lines. 

The Salvation Army maintained a canteen in what had been 
a dungeon under a church. Only an expert could locate the 
entrance among the debris. When I stood up straight my head 
struck the ceiling. A few planks here and there helped to keep 
our feet out of the water which covered the floor. Most of the 
time we could buy eggs in the canteen. We fried them on a 
dinky little stove and ate them with slices of bread furnished 
by the army. We just grabbed a loaf and cut off a slice when- 
ever we were hungry. Occasionally we were able to buy six 
doughnuts for a franc. 

A big gun located near our billet kept me awake a good many 
hours. I kept well and as clean as possible. We bathed in 
the town wash house which had a large shell hole through the 
roof. We were glad we were absent when the hole was made. 

We assembled our squads in front of our billets at 9 a. m. 
the night of June 16th and started for the trenches. The village 
was under heavy shell fire, and we crept from building to build- 
ing. The team drawing an ammunition cart was frightened by 
a bursting shell and ran away, with the driver doing his utmost 
to stop them. Outside the village we marched along a shell 
lit road, used by all kinds of traffic on the way to our front 
lines. 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 13 



Our batteries were busy giving the Boche three for one. They 
were so well camouflaged that detection was almost impossible, 
even in the daytime, when the Boche observation balloons were 
up, and when our guns were put out of commission it was only 
by a chance hit. 

We passed the dangerous points in safety, and made our way 
to our position, known as "Jerry Woods." We could barely see 
our hands in front of us in the darkness. Now and then some 
one would stumble into a shell hole, pick himself up with a 
grunt, and drop into line again. The rainfall had made the 
going very slippery, and I had hard work keeping up. I did not 
want to get lost from the others as my eyesight was very poor. 

At last fourteen of us entered a dugout, where we lay down on 
the straw. I was introduced to my first cooties a few minutes 
later. I staged a big game hunt the first thing in the morning, 
and captured a dozen graybacks. It took 100 to buy a cigar, but 
[ did not give up hope. The rats made life interesting, too. 
We had to stand guard over our hard tack, and it was a race to 
see which of us would get to eat it. The woods were full of 
them at night. 

Every night for a week I went out into No Man's Land with 
nine others. We carried rifles and three or four hand grenades. 
We were prepared to give a good account of ourselves if we 
ran into a Boche patrol, for the grenades exploded in five seconds 
after we hit the cap, and it was regarded as a healthy practise to 
throw them immediately. Our rounds took us past the listening 
posts. In some places the trenches had been flattened so that 
we had to crawl in the open where we could be seen by the 
light of the Boche flares, which revealed everything for hundreds 
of yards. 

By throwing ourselves flat on the ground we managed to 
escape detection and made our way through the winding 
trenches to the farthest outposts known as the "sacrifice post." 
The machine gunners here kept very quiet, listening for sounds 
of activity or attempted raids. A few of those machine gun- 
ners could hold off an army, for they could cut advancing troops 
down as fast as they appeared. 

Later five of us were assigned to a listening post in charge of 
a corporal. Two men were posted on the parapet watching the 
Boche lines for raids or attempts to cut the wire. If a bar- 
rage, which usually preceded Boche attacks, had been thrown 
over, we would not have had much chance for escape, as there 
was no place to hide at that particular point. 

Our meals were carried out to us in the dugout by a food 
detail in big cans which kept everything nice and hot. The 
kitchen was nearly two miles back of the line, but the kitchen 
force had to suspend operations frequently when the shells be- 
gan dropping too close for comfort and safety. The Boche lines 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



were only 500 yards from our post, and we often heard them 
talking or singing during the night, and sometimes we heard 
working parties repairing the wire in front of their trenches. 

We- were relieved about 2 a. m.tjuly 2nd by a division of 
fresh troops just arrived from the states. Our. sector was re- 
garded as a quiet one well suited for, breaking new, troops into 
the joys of trench life. I had considerable difficulty explaining 
our duties to the relief how to challenge a person approaching 
through the trenches, and more important* tot the relief, how to 
use the hand grenades in case of; an attack. I had been keeping 
two dozen within reach under a little brush heap all the time. 

&hefe 'was a battery just behind us, much to our disapproval, 
for the shells which fell short from both directions landed in 
our neighborhood. Every night and in the early morning the 
Boche shelled the woods about us, and I soon learned to lie 
down flat in the trench at certain hours. One morning they 
dropped thirty Austrain 88 mm. shells rather close to us. The 
report; ofc the gun,, always follows these small shells, so the guns 
are hard to locate/ The report of a big gun precedes the shell, 
and we soon learned to tell the direction from which the big 
shells ''came. >'. r " ^ < -. - - ' , ' 

Another; time I .thought my time'' had* come. I heard a big 
sheir coming my direction and threw myself flat in- the bottom 
of the trench. There was' a terrific explosion not more than 
fifty feet away. Shrapnel flew in every, direction, and part of 
the trench caved in on me. I managed to rise to my knees and 
keep my head above the falling dirt. The corporal came to 
mfr onf the run, but found me only badly frightened. I could 
not hear anything for two hours. When our relief arrived I 
wasted no time getting out of that locality. 

After packing up our belongings we started back through 
the woods along the same road by which we had gone to the 
front. The night was remarkably quiet, with very little shell- 
ing.. ...We rode into Men La Tour on flat cars. At Andelli we 
found ^a- harvest regiment of Chinese coolies. A long day's 
hike- brought us to Fontenoy, where we found nearly all hous- 
ing space already taken. A bunch 'of -us made for an^old 'water- 
power sawmill. My pal and I pitched our tent by the river bank, 
and spent a good many hours in the water. We, had to go into 
tow.n for our meals. One day, after drawing our rations, we ^bought 
eggs, cheese an4 butter at a French farm house. They gave us 
a handful pf-de4ici:0us .strawberries -for good luck. 

We put two bottle's of beer in the river to cool, fried the eggs 
in our-mess kits, and had some feed. It seemed as if we were 
on a vacation, so far away from the roar of the guns. A bunch 
of us helped the old people stack their hay in the fields. It 
only took us a few minutes to do what was for them a long 
day's work. I talked with an old woman who had been parti- 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 15 



ally paralyzed by a bomb dropped on the village where she 
lived. One of her sons had been killed and the other was a 
prisoner. 

My feet were very sore from the long hike, but after ten 
days rest I was able to fall in with the others when we started 
to join the reserves back of Chateau Thierry. Each of us carried 
an extra bandolier of rifle ammunition, making 200 rounds in all, 
and it took a mighty good man to stand that long hike. We 
stopped now and then to rest, once for three hours, but the 
time flew so fast it seemed no more than half an hour. 

Again and again I nearly fell in the pitch darkness by step- 
ping into small ruts, but I plugged away, hoping that our des- 
tination would soon be reached. The hike continued through- 
out the day, for my company, but not for me. When I saw a 
sign announcing it was 29 kilos to Chateau Thierry my heart 
sank and I knew I could not last, as several had already fallen 
out. There was a number of Boche prisoners here piling lum- 
ber and moving supplies and ammunition, as it was the dis- 
tributing point for this sector. 

We were going into reserve for the big drive, so we could not 
stop, and kept on until we reached the top of a long cobblestone 
hill. Nearly every man was having trouble with his feet, and 
we received orders to rest a while at the top of the hill. I took 
off my shoes and used my pack for a pillow. My feet fairly 
burned, and it was a welcome relief to get those heavy trench 
shoes off for a little while. 

A large truck loaded with four pound loaves of bread baked 
by the French for the American army climbed the grade while 
we lay there. I suggested to the man next to me that a couple 
of those loaves belonged to us, and he took the hint, without 
letting the driver see him. We were hungrier than rats, and 
that bread did not last any time at all. I lay down for a little 
snooze, expecting my corporal to wake me, and woke up about 
four hours later, with my company nowhere in sight. 

I pulled my trench shoes onto my swollen feet and started 
out with hopes of overtaking my company somewhere along 
the roadside. I met several officers and asked them if they 
could direct me to the 26th Division. One of them consulted 
a map and sent me on down the dusty road. After climbing 
what I took to be the longest and steepest grade I had seen in 
France I lay down beside the road for a rest. 

Then I saw what I had been looking for a pump ! I found 
a sign on the pump stating in French that the water was not 
fit for drinking, but that did not stop me from bathing my feet, 
so I took off my shoes and sat on the top of the well, working 
the pump and holding my feet under the cool water. What 
a relief it was ! The burning sensation left, I was revived to 



16 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



a considerable extent and given courage to keep on, tired as I 
was. 

I came upon a supply truck company billetted in the woods. 
It was just about mess time, and I took off my pack and rested 
until the company had been fed. I then went up to the mess 
sergeant and explained my troubles, and asked him for a hand- 
out. The meal of roast beef, spuds, string beans, rice pud- 
ding, bread, butter and lemonade that he gave me was a dis- 
tinct surprise, up there so close to the front line, where it was 
often difficult for the boys to get enough hard tack and corned 
Willy. 

I found an old friend who was in another company, and we 
talked for a while and took a good rest. We entered a big 
Chateau near by and found the building empty. I then left my 
pal and went on in search of my company. After hiking several 
kilos I turned off toward what I took to be an abandoned build- 
ing, in which I found several Frenchmen busy cooking a meal 
on a dinky stove. I managed to make them understand that 
I wished to warm up my can of corned Willy. I soon had it 
sizzling in my mess kit. It is really good when properly pre- 
pared. I gave the Frenchmen some hard tack, and they gave 
me a cup of hot coffee. The French hard tack is more like a 
dog biscuit, and has to be soaked about five minutes before it 
can be eaten by anything less than a rock crusher. 

The lines were not far away, and I could hear the guns 
booming away incessantly. I picked up my few belongings 
and started on my way, although I did not know whether it was 
right or wrong. But I was game, and covered several more 
kilos before night. About 9 p. m. I spotted a grain field on the 
left which looked like a good place for my night's lodging. I 
spread my shelter half on the ground, wrapped my two woolen 
blankets as tightly around my body as I could, spread my slicker 
over me, and went to sleep. 

I slept twelve hours without opening my eyes once. I don't 
believe I could have found a better tonic than that night's rest. 
I rolled up my pack, strapped it on my back, and started off 
down the road, never dreaming that my company was less than 
an hour's walk from that wheat field. The commissary depart- 
ment reported that my reserve rations had all been consumed, 
but I discovered a chunk of stale bread in my rain coat pocket 
that satisfied my appetite for an hour or two. 

The first man I met directed me down a road where I found 
a part of the 26th Division. They set me on the right track. 
I reached Division Headquarters about lunch time, and I de- 
cided it would pay me to linger until the Headquarters com- 
pany had mess. I discovered several men from my company 
who had fallen out during the hike. The mess sergeant told us 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 17 



to wait for a few minutes until the cook could prepare something 
for us. An old plow formed a convenient seat for me. 

After we had eaten a guard was put over us, and we were 
told that Col. "Roaring Bill" Parker wanted to see us. I knew 
we were in for a lecture, for one of my comrades had told me 
what the colonel had said to him out on the road during the 
hike. The colonel came along in his luxurious touring car and 
noticed the man slowing down a little, and called him about 
everything that isn't in the dictionary, including ''Yellow Belly" 
and worse. 

They lined up fifteen of us and marched us over to Division 
Headquarters, where the colonel appeared, looking for all the 
world like a buck private just back from wire detail. His 
uniform was tattered, and he had no Sam Browne belt or a 
sign of shoulder strap to indicate his rank. While a number 
of French officers stood looking on, and American officers grin- 
ned at us from the windows, the famous Courtyard Lecture com- 
menced. 

I do not know how long it lasted. It consisted mostly of 
various forms of profanity. He called us deserters, yellow bel- 
lied, cowards, etc., and informed us that the next time it hap- 
pened he would see that we were kept in the front line trenches 
for six months straight, and that he would not wait for any slow 
moving court martial but would line us up and shoot us himself. 

We were glad when a guard was assigned to escort us to our 
company, which was only a few hundred yards away. We were 
immediately ordered to report to the major. We left our packs 
in the woods with our company and started. The colonel fol- 
lowed us in his machine, and ordered the corporal to get us into 
squad formation instead of letting us string along the road. So 
we hopped into squad formation to the tune of the colonel's 
motor and advanced on the major's office. 

Upon arriving at the major's office the colonel went inside, 
leaving us standing out in the hot sunshine. Our canteens were 
empty, and we slipped over one at a time to a well not far 
away where we drew buckets of exceptionally cold water with 
which we quenched our thirst and filled our canteens. After 
something over an hour the colonel appeared again and walked 
around us making some more remarks about drafted men not 
having the guts that his regulars had. 

The major waited until the colonel was gone, and then came 
out and asked us one at a time just what our trouble was. We 
admired him for the way he talked to us. He said it was not 
customary to fall out while on the march to the front lines, 
and that we must all try not to let it happen again. 

After making our way back to camp across the fields, I 
looked around for a suitable sleeping place. I made a nice 
soft bed on some straw under a large tree which would pro- 



18 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



tect me somewhat from a rainstorm. We stayed there two 
days, cleaning our rifles, playing cards, shooting craps, and 
keeping under cover of the woods in the daytime so that the 
Boche aviators could not spot us, for discovery meant a bomb 
dropped from the sky or an artillery bombardment. The 
Germans had long range guns for such work, planted behind 
the hills twenty miles away. 

Then orders came for us to move up into reserve, and at 
dusk we started on another long hike. My feet were still on 
the bum, and I had an awful time keeping up with my com- 
pany. The sergeant kept telling me all the time to hurry up. 
I replied that I was doing my best. I had to watch for chuck 
holes in the road, for I would have fallen at the slightest 
stumble. An M. P. stood at a cross roads and directed us to 
some woods facing towards Chateau Thierry. 

The woods were blacker than ink. We bumped into tree 
after tree, growled something about hard luck that we could not 
even see where we were going, until we reached a well con- 
cealed position. My pal and I cleared a little space of twigs 
and roots sticking out of the ground. It was a good thing 
for us that it did not rain that night, for we were all in. 

The next morning we all went to work putting up a camou- 
flage for our location. We gave particular attention to the 
mess kitchen, which we covered with trees and what loose 
brush we could find. No trees could be cut down except in a 
case of absolute necessity. 

My pal and I pulled up what roots we had missed in the dark 
and pitched our tent, made out of two strips buttoned together. 
We had to be very careful when crawling into these tents, but 
once on my back I was soon asleep providing the shells were 
not coming too close for health. 

We stayed there three days. A Y. M. C. A. man came 
around several times selling stuff. Whenever we saw him com- 
ing the whole company got into line, and the poor fellow at the 
end of the line had to wait for a long while and often could 
not get what he wanted after all. 

A guard was posted all the time to keep every one under 
cover of the trees. We had to go nearly a mile for drinking 
water. We always went two at a time, with twenty or more 
canteens swinging from a long pole resting on our shoulders. 
Some marines kept busy digging trenches and putting up 
barbed wire entanglements so that if the Boche did break 
through we would be ready for him. 

I was put on K. P. duty July 16th. I managed to get a 
little sleep now and then, in spite of occasional shells, the bray- 
ing of the mules, or the swift flight of an aeroplane on its 
journey of destruction. The ground where I slept was very 
damp but it was the best that I was able to locate near by. 

When orders came to advance we stopped about five kilos 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 19 



behind the company. I visited the graves of two Americans 
killed by a bomb dropped by a Boche plane. We sent the food 
up in large Marremeat cans which kept the stuff hot for some 
time if the lids were screwed on tightly. The mess sergeant 
always went with the ration cart to see that it was delivered 
to the right men. It took at least five hours to make the round 
trip over the shell swept road, and more than one detail never 
came back at all. That one trip gave the boys all the hot food 
they got for that day. 

We sent up all the food we could, because none of us knew 
when the drive would start. We made 800 doughnuts in one 
day. Several times steaks and stew came back to us turned 
green by gas, so that we had to bury it immediately. 

I made the trip one night with a water cart as extra driver. 
If anything had happend to the driver it would have been up 
to me to go ahead alone. There was not water supply out 
where the boys were, and the precious fluid was worth its 
weight in gold many times over to a fellow lying wounded -on 
the field of battle, with an empty canteen and fever rising. 

They were under constant shell fire, mostly gas. They had 
to keep their masks on for hours at a time, and they never 
had any peace. They dug holes in the ground for protection 
from shrapnel and machine gun bullets. As we made our way 
up to them along the shell swept road we never knew but 
that the next one had our name and number on it. 

As we passed one of our batteries hidden in the woods along- 
side the road, all the guns were fired almost together, and the 
noise was terrific. The flash nearly blinded us, so that we 
could not see the road for some time. The mules, frightened 
by the roar and flash of the guns, tore down the road at break- 
neck speed with the driver doing his best to stop them. I 
hung on blindly to the tool box in the rear. The cart seemed 
to hit every shell hole in the road, but I stayed with it, and 
was there at the finish. It took us half an hour to empty our 
precious load into the barrels which were buried in the ground 
beside the road. 

Several men that I knew came to fill their canteens while 
I w r as there, they could only come out at night, as they were 
close enough to the front lines, to be seen in the day time. 
There was no water available for washing even if the shells 
had stopped falling long enough to give them time to think 
about such luxuries. They were a tired and haggard looking 
bunch. Some of them had been able to sleep a little in the 
fox holes which they dug to escape the shells; others had not 
had any rest for days. 

On our return trip the battery beside the road waited until 
we were close to them, and then they whispered something to 
the Kaiser that started the mules on another wild run, but this 
time we were headed toward camp. Shells were piled six feet 



20 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



high alongside the road, all covered with brush, so there was not 
much danger of us getting off the road. The mess sergeant 
met us before we reached camp, wanting to know if everything 
was O. K. I was certainly tired after that ride, which had 
Paul Revere's ride skinned a mile for speed and ducking G. I. 
cans, and I beat it for my pup tent out on the damp ground, 
where I sawed wood until they shook me up at noon. 

July 14 the Red Cross man came along and gave us choco- 
late, cigarettes and writing paper, of which I had none left, 
as I had been writing a good many letters. We could not 
buy anything in that vicinity, as the Y. M. C. A. men seldom 
came around, and they had very little if any stock left. 

A motorized machine gun battalion camped near us in the 
woods. They were used as hole pluggers, rushing here and 
there where the Boche threatened to break through. They 
used Ford cars, and they were always at the right place at the 
right time. I wrote several letters the day before our company 
went over the top, which was at five o'clock in the morning, 
July 18. I did not expect many chances to write while the 
drive was on. The boys advanced behind a heavy barrage, 
and must have surprised the Germans, for those who did not 
start for Berlin on the double came our direction yelling "Kam- 
erad" and clawing the cobwebs off the milky way. Large 
batches of prisoners streamed down trie road all day. Some 
of them had been merely stripped of their arms and told to 
hit the trail for the prison camp. 

The Americans never hesitated to shoot a German who did 
not have his hands straight up. Many of them were very 
treacherous. A favorite trick was to advance with a small 
grenade bomb in their fists, throwing it when sure of a mark. 
Dozens of them were shot when these bombs were found in 
their possession. 

The next morning the kitchen was ordered to advance to some 
woods far in advance of the place where the company had gone 
over the top. As we were passing through the ruins of a little 
village, a messenger from our company ran his bicycle into an 
officer's horse. Both the bicycle and the horse were making 
extra good time, but no serious damage was done. I ran over 
and picked up the runner and helped him get started again, 
and then rejoined the kitchen detail. 

I noticed a tall tree with a rope ladder running up to the 
top, where a comfortable chair, neatly camouflaged, had pro- 
vided an observation post from which the country could be 
seen for miles. An officer with a good pair of field glasses 
could get a lot of valuable information from such a post. Of 
course he had to keep absolutely quiet in the daytime. 

A last the driver turned the kitchen up a narrow road where 
we had to help it over the ruts now and then, until we were 
well back from the road. We got busy with a couple of axes 



COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



and cleared a space of brush and stumps. Then we discon- 
nected the two parts of the kitchen, or rather the pantry from 
the kitchen, bracing the sections on their two wheels so that 
they would not tip over. We prepared the food in the pantry 
and did the cooking in the kitchen. We set them on opposite 
sides of the road so that it was only a step from one to the other. 
When the meat supply ran short we resorted to stew, so that 
it would go around. 

After spreading my blankets on the ground under a large 
tree I went exploring with the rest of the detail. The woods 
had been fought over just the day before, and they were full 
of equipment thrown away by the advancing Americans. They 
discarded everything when they went over the top except re- 
serve rations, helmet, gas mask, rifle, ammunition both in 
belt and in an extra handolier of 100 cartridges thrown over 
the shoulder. 

I found a new Springfield rifle and gave it to a man who had 
lost his off the kitchen, to which he had strapped it to save 
carrying it. From the edge of the woods we looked out on an 
open field where we could see several duds unexploded shells 
but there were no bodies in sight. We had expected to 
find some, as we had heard that a number of the boys had been 
killed. 

When we returned to the kitchen we learned that orders had 
been received for another move after nightfall. It was only 4 
p. m., so we had some time to wait. After getting everything 
ready to move on a minute's notice we made our way to a small 
farm house to get some drinking water. On the way we learned 
that two of our boys were lying near by where they had been 
killed. I went over to see if I could identify the bodies. 

One was a corporal from my company. His forehead had 
been split by a large piece of shrapnel. I noticed that some 
one had taken his automatic. The other boy was one of my 
pals. Apparently a piece of shrapnel had struck his bayonet 
scabbard, for it was bent almost double. A dozen letters were 
scattered about on the ground, still unopened, mute as to the 
suddenness of the order which had sent him to his death. One 
of his arms and a leg had been torn off, by a high explosive 
shell, I was told. 

The time for the kitchen to advance was near at hand. As 
I went on to a farmhouse where I could get good drinking 
water, I noticed a great red flare far to the east, which I took to 
be an ammunition dump set on fire by the retreating Boche. 
As the Americans had captured a number of their guns, the 
enemy tried to destroy the shells they were unable to use. 

We started forward with the kitchen about 9 p. m., July 
19th, up over a long hill, topped by the ruins of a little village 
through which the Boche line had run for a time. There was 
a story in circulation that the Boche cooked here in the daytime, 



22 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



and that the Americans cooked that night in the same place. 

The road through the village was badly cut up by shell fire. 
Many trees hit by shells had fallen across the road, blocking 
it until the engineers arrived. They kept busy during the 
drive keeping the roads open for traffic. Filling the shell holes 
with crushed rock was a big task. 

Nearly every building in the next village we came to had 
been entirely demolished, and those which had not been wreck- 
ed by exploding shells showed great holes where duds had 
passed through. However, the railroad bridge in this town had 
not been damaged. Most of the trees had been killed by the 
gas, so the scene was far from attractive. 

We passed through a number of these small villages, and saw 
several bodies lying on the ground, apparently snipers and 
machine gunners left behind in a vain attempt to stop the ad- 
vance. Most of these fellows got what they deserved. Their 
favorite stunt was to keep on shooting until they saw them- 
selves in danger and then cry Kamerad. 

When about three kilos from the front line where the 
Americans were resting the mess sergeant returned reporting 
that the boys were in some woods, and got ready for business 
by disconnecting the kitchen. 

We found the woods full of small dugouts, about three 'feet 
under ground in solid clay, so we knew there was no danger 
of their caving in. My pal and I could not find any cooties, 
so we spread out our blankets in one of them and were soon 
sound asleep, in spite of the exceptionally heavy barrage with 
which the Boche was trying to check our advance. 

The mess sergeant soon received orders for a hot meal, all 
we could send, as it had been four days since the company had 
had a hot meal. All the boys had to eat in that time was the 
reserve rations in their packs. We were all on the job at once. 
We kept the stove full of wood and soon had the coffee boiling. 
The canned corn, of which we had a large quantity, and the corn- 
ed Willy were soon hot, the bread was cut, everything loaded on 
to the ration cart, and the mess sergeant and the driver were 
off. 

As our division was waiting for relief, they merely held the 
Boche in check and watched for a counter attack. After an 
hour's search the company was located, and the food was dis- 
tributed, not without difficulty, however, as the Boche machine 
gunners were not far away ready to pick off any one who care- 
lessly exposed himself to view. 

When the mess sergeant returned he reported that the boys 
were all worn out by the eight days of constant strain, hard- 
ly any sleep even at night, when their only protection was 
usually the fox holes they dug for themselves. Five men had 
been killed by one shell which dropped into the trench in which 
they were standing. 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 23 



We found many heaps of ammunition scattered through the 
woods, covered with grass to camouflage them from low-flying 
aeroplanes. As for equipment, most anything could be had 
from a messkit to a suit of clothes. In some of the dugouts 
I came across women's shoes and clothing. 

Our greatest difficulty was the scarcity of water. The 
country had been entirely devasted while in the possession of 
the Boche, especially the wells, most of which had been poison- 
ed. The water in every well had to be analyzed before it 
could be used for drinking. 

I was sent out with the driver of our water cart to a des- 
tination unknown, as our orders were merely, "Go get some 
water." Making our way with great difficulty over and 
around the pits left by thousands of exploding shells to the 
nearest village site, where once a dozen happy homes had stood, 
we found the water in the well unfit for drinking. 

We went on for about a mile through some woods formerly 
held by the Boche to a farmhouse which resembled a fort, on 
account of the heavy stone wall surrounding it. We found 
the well dry at this place. There were a number of French 
soldiers resting in the house. They were a funny looking lot on 
account of the odd sizes of the men. Several of them were at 
least fifty years old, others not yet twenty-five. The tall ones 
carried short rifles and the short ones long rifles. We saw 
several graves beside the road where Boches had been buried. 

It was nearly dark by this time. The mules were well nigh 
starved and very tired, so our progress to the next village was 
decidedly slow. We found some Americans billetted in a 
stone building. We saw a large pond here, but we could not 
use the water. On we went to the next village, where we filled 
our fifty gallon tank with good clear water drawn in a bucket 
from a well. 

In opening a box of prunes (we called them "army cherries") 
I discovered that the box was put up by my uncle who used 
to run a packing house at Los Gatos, California, which is my 
home- town. 

We had to wear our helmets all the time and our gas masks 
at alert. The helmets worn by the Boche were almost twice 
the weight of ours. 

After being at this place a couple of days we were ordered 
to fall back about three kilos.' We reached the place in about 
four hours, and hastily camouflaged everything with brush and 
trees. We had no orders to cook a meal, so we looked over the 
position a little. The place was one taken by my company in 
the drive. Soon after we started out on our souvenir hunt we 
found a patch of bushes which had made an excellent position 
for a machine gun nest. 

The first thing I picked up was some canteen paper money 
which was issued to the soldiers in advance and charged 



24 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



against his pay. These checks enabled the soldier to purchase 
necessities at the army canteens. I sent home three bills, of 
one, two, and four marks. At the other end of the patch of 
bushes I found a machine gun pit dug in the ground, about four 
feet deep. The gunner had stood in this pit, ready to sweep 
the country for miles with his machine gun. 

Every fifth bullet was explosive, making a very nasty wound 
when it struck one. The belts carried 200 cartridges, the 
longest that I had seen. The belts were provided with hooks 
at the end, so that a never-ending stream of cartridges could 
be fed into the gun. The French shosho guns used by my 
company could fire only twenty cartridges at a time, then 
another holder had to be inserted. 

My friend picked up an American automatic which had been 
struck by a piece of shrapnel. The fragment had cut into the 
chamber in such a way that the trigger could not be pulled. 
We found several dead Germans lying where they had fallen 
four days before. They had turned black. The helmets of 
two of them could be seen peeking over the edge of a shell 
hole. They were no doubt machine gunners who fired until 
the Americans were close up and then tried the "Kamerad" 
stunt. But as they had killed many of the Americans and 
wounded others all they got was three of four bayonets in the 
ribs. 

Another Boche stood in a trench with his hands in the air. 
He had been shot through the heart. The following day fif- 
teen of these bodies were collected and buried in a large shell 
hole. 

We slept out on the bare ground at this place. Two days 
after moving we moved back, and after a stop of half a day 
we again moved forward. 

A battery o*f six French long range guns about a kilo from us 
made the ground tremble every few minutes, and we could 
hear the shells shrieking through the air. Their range was 
twenty-two kilos. As the boys advanced, these guns had to 
be moved forward, those from the rear going to the front be- 
fore stopping. 

I counted eighteen observation balloons, the eyes of the 
artillery, in a straight line about ten kilos long. They had a 
fleet of aeroplanes to protect them from the Boche aviators, 
who tried to get close enough to shoot them down with ex- 
plosive bullets, setting the balloons on fire and compelling the 
observer to leap for his life in a parachute. 

I discovered a three inch rapid fire gun abandoned by the 
Boche. It had been neatly covered with straw. The barrel 
was all that I could see. 

Returning to the kitchen we found orders for a hot meal to 
be sent up to the lines as soon as possible. The water tank 
was empty, so I started out with the driver to hunt for water. 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 25 



There had been some heavy fighting here. I saw several Ger- 
mans lying where they had been killed. The sides of the road 
were honeycombed with small dugouts where they had lived 
like rats, with just room to lie down. Further up the road 
I saw a large grave containing the bodies of twenty men from 
the 26th Division who had been killed by French shells. I 
looked at each of the little wooden crosses to make sure that 
none of my company were buried there. 

To one side lay a little village which had been nearly de- 
molished by the retreating Boche. A party of French engineers 
was clearing the wreckage from the streets so that the traffic 
could pass. By saying "Delooh" and pointing to the tank I 
made them understand I wanted water, and they directed me 
to the town washhouse where we filled our tank in about ten 
minutes with a small pump which the French had installed for 
our benefit. The water was very good. 

As we left the village we had a steep hill to climb. The 
mules were tired, and I got off and pushed all I could. While 
we rested at the top some French ammunition carts came along 
loaded with shells for the front. We met a large batch of 
Boche prisoners in charge of an M. P. on horesback. They 
followed wherever he went. They were some sorry looking 
lot. None of them had had a shave or a bath for weeks, and 
their clothing was no more than rags. Their leader, who did 
not look much like a German to me, was a good six feet six 
inches tall. As they passed the Frenchman who was driving 
stopped and stood up, griting his teeth and shaking his fist at 
them. 

When we reached the kitchen we emptied the tank into our 
three big double boilers and one single one. Orders came for 
another move the next day. When we started out after water 
we found some in half an hour, but the stream from the faucet 
here was so small that it would have taken us all day to fill 
the tank. Some intelligence officers were examining fifteen 
prisoners in the courtyard, going through their pockets in search 
of information of value. One of them could talk English. 
When asked if he thought the war was going to last much 
longer he replied that he did not know. Some of them were 
eating some food out of cans. One fellow threw away half a 
can, and one of the officers remarked that food must be plenti- 
ful in Germany. 

We started for a place about ten kilos distant where I knew 
the water was plentiful and good. We were gone six hours, 
and the mess sergeant was angry. I explained that my orders 
were to get water, and that I had obeyed my orders. 

Our division was relieved soon after that. We moved to 
the rear under cover of darkness, after preparing a good hot 
meal. When we reached the company we found only fifty-five 
left of the 200 who started in the drive. All the rest were 



26 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



either killed or wounded. They certainly looked tired after 
that ten days of hell. We gave them all they wanted of every- 
thing. 

I was completely worn out myself. I slept with two of my 
pals who were without shelter. They had discarded their 
packs during the drive so that their movement would not be 
hindered. One of these two boys, named Manning, was killed 
later in the St. Mehiel drive. 

I was kept on the water wagon job during the rest that fol- 
lowed. I met the Colonel one morning. He seemed to be in 
good humor, saying "Good morning" when I saluted. He 
certainly must have had a grouch on that day he bawled me 
out for falling out of the hike. 

The watering place was some grand mud hole. I had to 
walk through mud over my shoe tops to fill the bucket from a 
small stream running out of the hillside. It was near a large 
tunnel on the main railroad line. The entrance to the tunnel 
had been closed by American artillery fire, so that the Boche 
could not retreat through it. The rails had been dynamited, 
making extensive repairs necessary before the Allies could use 
it for hauling supplies, and to bring up the big long range naval 
guns on flat cars which could be readily moved from place to 
place, fooling the Boche gunners who were trying to get the 
range. 

These naval guns threw a large projectile twenty-five kilos 
and kept the Boche on the run. Large heaps of ammunition 
led us to believe the Boche had plenty of ammunition instead of 
the scarcity reported. Several shells had come over made of 
all sorts of material such as aluminum, glass, brass and copper. 
Many of their shells failed to explode. 

We started for our rest camp August 2nd. We passed 
through mile after mile of war torn country, where we were 
hindered in our march by the shell holes in the roads. We had 
to help the mules pull the kitchen more than once. We went 
to the rear by the same road up which we had advanced, march- 
ing until we were tired, and then resting a while. We soon got 
out of range of the Boche guns, and it was a wonderful relief to 
get back where all we could hear was a niose far behind us not 
unlike the booming of distant surf. 

As we passed through a small village a Frenchman came out 
with a bucket of water which was a lifesaver for many of us. 
There was a pump nearby, but we were not allowed to stop 
until we reached the top of the hill. I found a box of trench 
pastry in one of the boilers and satisfied my hunger. The 
march was resumed after a brief rest. We had to block the 
wheels going down several hills, as there were no brakes on 
the kitchen trucks, and the mules could never hold them back. 

After staying three days in the identical place where we had 
prepared for the drive, we passed on through a little village 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 27 



where our first dressing station had been located in the church, 
and up over the hill on the way to our rest camp. My teeth 
were beginnig to bother me. The bridge work had been worn 
out on both sides by the hard tack. 

We had regular hours in the rest camp, reveille at 6 a. m. and 
taps at 9 p. iru We were given plenty of time for recreation, 
and we played baseball, cards, and other games. Some of us 
who were lucky were allowed to visit the nearest large town 
where they could get a good home^cooked meal in a French 
home. The women treated us fine, serving wine wherever 
we went, as the water was undrinkable. 

I wrote home that I would be lucky if I came back from the 
war, and received a note from my mother acknowleding the 
receipt of a check from . the government, the ten dollar allot- 
ment that was to start in January. I had expected the govern- 
ment to add at least ten dollars to my ten.. I urged every one 
at home to go the limit on the Fourth Liberty Loan, as I had 
seen things and knew that the government needed the money 
to equip and feed the boys on the line and the others on the way, 
for a boy can not do much fighting with no ammunition and a 
wooden gun and with his stomach empty. I had been in twice 
and come out without a scratch, although I had been so badly 
frightened at times that I had forgotten to pray for the good 
health of my folks at home and for my own safety. 

Up to this, time I 'had ncdfye,1;,een a t,ank. I had heard how 
they wiped! out the, Boche .machine gun, nests, nothing stopping 
them but direct hits by heavy artillery, usually fatal to the 
crew of two or three men. 

I received, a good conduct pass Augus.t 6th and went to the 
nearest village with another member of the kitchen detail. We 
walked down a path to the main road running toward Cha- 
teau Thierry. There were plenty of auto trucks passing. We 
flagged the first one and got a ride to La Ferte, a good sized 
town where we could get almost anything by paying an ex- 
orbitant price. Two small green pears cost one and one half 
francs, four small but fairly good peaches, two francs; a fist 
full of grapes, two francs; two small oranges, one franc. I 
could have bought the whole lot for twenty cents in New 
York. 

We saw many .things which were used extensively in the 
army,- suc,h as sweet potatoes (canned)^ all -varieties of evapor- 
ated vegetables, brought to trieir- normal size 1>y r two to three 
hours .soaking in water. Tfiey came in fifteen pound cans, con- 
venient for keeping part if we did not use the whole can at one 
time. Potatoes came in two different forms small cubes and 
thin slices for frying. Karo corn syrup made a hit with the 
boys some of them were wild over it, spreading it on their 
bread every time they could get it. I often served three and 
four ten pound cans to the company for one meal. 



28 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



Our coffee was excellent. Oleomargarine was the best sub- 
stitute for butter. It would not keep very long, so when we 
managed to get a surplus we flavored our boiled spuds and car- 
rots with it. 

I had a dandy place for my sleping tent. My pal and I 
covered the ground with six inches of straw and made a fine 
bed. 

August 7th the rain came down in torrents. After a hard 
day's work I crawled into my tent to rest and write a letter or 
two. I did not dare touch the canvass, as that made it leak. 
The boys from Connecticut received money that day from the 
Spanish War Veterans, and I began to wonder if California was 
getting up some benefit for the boys from that state. I de- 
cided that she must be holding it up her sleeve until we got 
home. 

I had the afternoon off August 9th. There was no laundry to 
which we could send our soiled clothes, and I spent the afternoon 
boiling and washing my clothes, using plenty of soap. I was 
sure I killed all the cooties that time. But no matter how well 
we cleaned up they were always just as bad the next day, and 
the only way to keep them from crawling away with us was to 
get the shirt reading habit, and do the once over every day. 

The next day I sent home imprints of the different coins I 
happened to have in my pocket. The old copper five centime 
piece had been superseded by a new one made of aluminum with 
a hole punched in the center. The ten centime piece was a 
little larger, with a hole in its center. The twenty-five centime 
piece was a little larger than the franc. 

We were told that the coins were called in to get the copper 
for shells and parts of the big guns, and to do away with the 
confusing of twenty-five centime pieces with francs. The 
holes in the ten centime pieces helped to distinguish them. At 
one time there were five different coins in circulation in France, 
(five) England, Belgium, Switzerland, France, and sunny Italy, 
and the five coins all had equal purchasing value in all of the 
five countries mentioned. 

I received a watch from my brother. I could not make it 
run for some time until I discovered that the minute hand was 
striking the second hand at the tip. I sent my mother a small 
silk handkerchief with a letter for her birthday. 

August 18th our regimental band played for the boys in the 
village. Listening to music is certainly more soothing to the 
nerves than ducking shells. I heated water for a nice hot bath 
over the coals in the mess kitchen. We had moved into a 
house in the village, and I had a dandy straw bed in a room 
where there was a stone floor and a fireplace. 

I had got the smoking habit by this time, like all the other 
boys. I liked the French wine, but the beer was rotten. I 
was firmly convinced that my numfrer was not on any of the 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 29 



Kaiser's shells. The weather was very warm so that I did not 
mind sleeping out in the open. 

The dentist was working on my teeth so that they bothered 
the life out of me every time I ate. I changed my insurance 
papers so that my father would get $3,000 and my mother 
$7,000 in case anything happened to me while in the service. 

There were not many aeroplanes to be seen around our rest 
camp, we were far behind the lines, away from the continuous 
shell fire and strain. We did not get many newspapers there, 
as the village in the vicinity were not reached by a railroad. 
The nearest railroad station was twenty kilos from us. 

Nearly all the people remaining in the village were elderly 
people who toiled all day in the fields, I noticed one woman 
who must have been at least eighty, cutting hay like a young 
chicken. 

We were paid August 24th. A little Frog, well into his fourth 
summer, came along while I was drawing water from our cart to 
make Java. His shoes were in tatters, especially the backs. I 
picked up a nail and sewed them up as well as I could with some 
heavy twine, so that they at least kept his feet off the ground. 
I do not claim to be an expert shoemaker when the tools of the 
trade are on hand, but I made that little shaver happy. 

A member of my company was sent back to the States August 
24th, on account of the dependency of his wife and two children. 
He had been sent over to France through some error and had 
been to the front twice. 

The town pump went dry, and I had to haul water from a 
spring beyond the next village. The water was exceptionally 
clean and cool. The town crier was making his rounds as we 
passed through. He assembled the villagers by beating a drum 
and then announced the latest dope on the war or anything of 
interest or importance. 

We spent several days on the road until we reached some dark 
woods about two o'clock of a very dark morning. The road was 
well supplied with shell holes which hindered us a good deal. 
We stopped one day, and then took another fifteen kilo hike. I 
had had almost no sleep for two days and could hardly keep up 
with the kitchen. We had been taking turns sleeping on top of 
the kitchen while on the march. When it came my turn I was 
soon asleep, with my head hanging over the fire box. The link 
connecting the front to the rear slipped out, and I took a com- 
plete somersault in the air and landed on my feet. As soon as I 
got my eyes open and realized what had happened I ran down 
the road to stop the driver, who did not know that he had lost 
an important part of his load. 

While on the march the ration cart always followed the kitch- 
en. Whenever we got hungry I grabbed a loaf of bread and 
cut it up. Sometimes we had jam, or olemargine, too. 

When we reached our destination we found that part of the 



30 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



division had already arrived, and a number of kitchens were set 
up in the woods, which looked very much like a village soon 
after dark, with nothing to be seen but a few lights here and 
there. After placing our own kitchen we looked around for 
a good place to sleep. We slept from three o'clock in the morn- 
ing until nine. Soon after a hasty breakfast of coffee and bread, 
we were all treated to a general bawling out of the officers by 
our friend the colonel, known intimately as "Roaring Bill." He 
said that we should have camouflaged the kitchens with trees, 
and then reminded us all that the French did not want any more 
trees cut than was absolutely necessary. 

Two days later we moved to a better location one kilo nearer 
the front. That was the shortest and perhaps the slowest hike 
I ever took. We spent five hours doing little more than wait for 
orders to move on another hundred yards, but we finally ar- 
rived, unhitched the mules and put them in their corral, and then 
all hands returned to the kitchen. I don't think I ever swore 
so much in all the rest of my life as I did the next hour. We 
had to work the kitchen into a clump of bushes. It wasn't the 
lifting and pulling and pushing that worried us. The bushes 
were equipped, with long thorns which made us forget about all 
the barbed wire ever invented. We had to get the job done, 
too, before we could get any sleep. I slept where I dropped 
until wakened by the mess sergeant who told me to hustle some 
water. I had to go back eight kilos. 

September 8th, just after I had finished cutting five 10 pound 
tins of bacon, the knife slipped while I was skinning the rind 
and nearly finished a finger for me. Our first aid man fixed 
it up with iodine and a bandage which I soon lost, as I kept right 
on with my work. 

The French were busy placing long range guns along the road 
and camouflaging them overhead so that they could not be spot- 
ted from aeroplanes, doing everything at night, of course. It 
rained every day, with regular cloudbursts between showers. 
Two of us fixed up a pup tent with the mess sergeant. We put 
several empty sacks on the ground first of all, covering them 
with three wool blankets, leaving three more for cover. 

Just before mess one day we went over to the extra fireplace 
dug in the ground to get a large boiler of coffee. Before we 
carried it thirty feet the clouds seemed to burst, and we were 
soaked to the skin before we could reach cover. Luckily I had 
extra sox and underwear. I dried my shoes as well as I could 
over the fireplace. 

Orders came for us to move towards the front September 12th. 
The company left about nightfall, followed by the kitchen about 
an hour later. We advanced four kilos through the woods. 
The mud was the thickest I had ever seen. After a few hundred 
yards we would stop to rest. I threw myself on the^ ground be- 
side the road to get a wink or two of sleep every time I got a 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 31 



chance, as I did not know when I would get another good night's 
rest. After much delay we found our location in the woods and 
darkness and rainfall. We unloaded our supplies and piled them 
on the ground under the large canvas cover which we carried 
for protecting our flour, sugar, and such provisions, and then 
went dugout hunting. 

I found our officers and a few men in a little dugout. They 
were a funny sight all piled in there together. It was two 
o'clock by that time. I used my helmet as a chair, because the 
floor was very damp, told the gas guard to call me at four 
o'clock, leaned back against a post, and slept till he woke me. 
We had to keep our gas masks at alert all the time, for we never 
knew when gas shells would be dropped on us. 

We carried the cans of bacon into a dugout, where we used 
an empty box as a cutting table. The water cart had gone for 
water, but failed to return, and the boys did not get any coffee 
that morning. They were bitterly disappointed, as there is no 
better tonic on a cold morning than hot coffee. We cut the bread 
by the flashes of the big guns, which were throwing a terrific bar- 
rage over on the Boche. Nevertheless, we had to be very care- 
ful with our fire while we cooked the bacon. We covered the 
firebox with wet sacks. 

We rested all that day. At nightfall the company was order- 
ed forward into a village which was under constant shell fire. 
The kitchen followed. Two of us were left behind to guard the 
supplies until the return of the ration cart which had gone to the 
rear to draw our daily allowance. The kitchen had gone on 
when the ration cart reached the village, so the driver went on 
in the wake of the company and followed it around while the 
drive was on. 

Our orders were to stay with the supplies until we were sent 
for, so we stuck, while the boys went ahead and helped to cap- 
ture Mont Sec, on the Toul front. The Americans surrounded 
the hill, forcing the Boche to evacuate. Soon after they captured 
a little village a long train rolled in bearing several carloads of 
ammunition, a complete brass band, and several carloads of re- 
enforcements for the front lines. The 26th Division took them 
all prisoners after a sharp fight. 

In the meantime my pal and I were guarding the supplies left 
in our charge. After waiting all day for the ration cart 
to come we dined on bread and water. I tried to sleep sitting 
on a box of corned Willy, with a couple of sacks thrown over 
my shoulders, but the night was too cold. The next morning 
we discovered the most comfortable dugout that I had ever been 
in, containing chairs, tables, bunks, and best of all, a large fire- 
place with a large exit for smoke. 

We lost no time moving in the supplies, which included 45 
loaves of bread, 100 pounds flour, 150 pounds spuds, fifty pounds 
carrots, 50 pounds of bacon fat obtained by trying out our bacon 



32 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



before the kitchen left, sugar, and coffee. Our menu that day 
included samples of about everything, and we wound up with 
hot cakes and fried bread. 

We crawled out of bed the next morning at 6:30, and soon 
had some spuds peeled and fried in a tremendous frying pan we 
discovered there. We did not care how hard it rained, as we 
had plenty of wood to keep the fire roaring. 

The next day, Sunday, turned out to be a glorious day. We 
could not find a line of reading matter anywhere. Newspapers 
were scarcer than hen's teeth. We rose at 8 :30 that morning, 
and feasted on fried spuds and toast, washing them town with 
most excellent Java. We had everything our own way, going 
to bed and getting up when we felt like it. My pal was lucky 
enough to pick up a deck of cards which helped us to pass the 
time away. 

We spent September 16 exploring the dugouts in the vicinity. 
They were occupied by the French before the drive commenced. 
One of the dugouts was at least fifty feet deep and very dark, so 
that we had to feel our way around very cautiously, I washed 
my clothes in a shell hole and took a much needed bath, after 
boiling the water to make sure there was no gas in it. 

When we ran out of drinking water we hiked four kilos to the 
nearest village where we filled our canteens and a couple of large 
cans. We found a company of engineers laying a railroad to- 
wards the front, on which supplies and ammunition could be 
carried forward. They were colored troops, and a happier crowd 
was nowhere to be found. Soon after we returned to the 
dugout my throat began to get sore. I gargled it with the best 
thing I could think of salt and water. 

Our alarm clock had not yet appeared, so we slept until eleven 
the next morning. We needed the rest, and we took advantage 
of the opportunity. The rain encouraged us to stay inside where 
it was dry and warm. Writing, playing cards and eating kept 
us busy. We had not seen a newspaper for a week, and the 
only news we had received of anything we had to pry from roam- 
ing Frenchmen we met while strolling in the woods. 

The lieutenant and the supply sergeant came after us Septem- 
ber 19th. We loaded the supplies which were left on the ration 
cart. All the bread had to be thrown away as it had begun to 
mold. We had eaten all the potatoes, and some of the other 
stuff would have been used up if we had stayed there much 
longer. We had collected a number of souvenirs in the dug- 
outs, but the lieutenant was angry because they had had to come 
after us, and he made us discard everything that we did not 
really need. I managed to smuggle three blankets onto the cart 
when he was not looking. He made us carry our packs on our 
backs. 

We left all the soap with the commissary sergeant in the near- 
est village. When the lieutenant went ahead on horseback, we 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 33 



laid our packs and rifles on the back of the cart. We soon 
passed the old front line trenches. At one of the cross roads we 
saw a skull lying where a shell had disturbed some one's grave. 
Quantities of Boche equipment which had been thrown away dur- 
ing the retreat lay alongside the road. We saw graves here and 
there, and many elaborate dugouts fitted up with glass windows 
by the Germans during their long stay. They used large sheets 
of steel which they struck with a hammer for gas alarms. 

In one village we found a party of Frenchmen placing an ob- 
servation balloon to aid in keeping tab on enemy movements. 
In another village we learned that a number of our boys had been 
killed there the day before by a shell. They were working on 
the road rilling shell holes at the time. 

We saw a Frenchman washing his clothes in a water hole. 
He seemed to be contented and happy, even in those gloomy 
surroundings. We took our time on the long grade just be- 
yond, as the lieutenant was far ahead. Now and then a shell 
went whizzing over our heads on its mission of death and de- 
struction. 

We found a French battery around the turn at the top of the 
hill barking away at the Boche, three kilos away. They had 
plenty of shells piled up alongside the road. Our kitchen stood 
near by, rather scantily camouflaged amidst the trees. The mess 
sergeant was surprised to see us. After a hasty meal we were 
sent down the hill again with the water tank. We soon had 
the tank filled, and then took our time on the return trip. 

We pitched our tent near the kitchen that night, but my pal 
did not like the continual booming and barking of the guns, 
so he went dugout hunting in the morning. He located a large 
dugout, the headquarters of our regimental band, fifty feet under- 
ground, where nothing could be heard except the explosion of 
a shell near the entrance. 

I stayed outside alone several nights, but I began to get a little 
scared myself out there in the pup tent sometimes, especially 
when I could hear the motors of the Boche bombers humming 
overhead, and I began to wonder how I would look if they drop- 
ped one in my front yard. 

We were about two kilos from the front lines. From our 
position we could see a level plain about six kilos wide, half of 
it still held by the Boche. We could see Boche ammunition 
factories working full blast. We did not shell them because, we 
did not want to kill the Belgain, French, and American prison- 
ers working there. 

An Austrain 88 gun gave us a lot of trouble. We could not 
hear the shells coming, and we had no time to duck. It shelled 
the woods every day, remaining quiet for a while and then 
throwing over four or five in rapid succession, sending us scamp- 
ering to whatever shelter we could find. 

One day while I was busy cutting bacon, and the company 



34 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



was lined up for mess, one of these shells landed about forty feet 
from the kitchen. It did not explode until it had buried itself 
in the ground, and the dirt went straight up into the air. No 
one was hurt. When the dust cleared away I found myself 
flat on the ground. The place was deserted in about three 
seconds. 

When we finally served the meal only ten men were allowed 
to come up to the kitchen at a time. We did everything we 
could to camouflage our smoke. 

High explosive shells burst overhead frequently, throwing 
out buck shot in all directions. A piece of metal missed me 
just five feet one day. I had replaced the cover after stirring 
the stew and stepped back, when bing ! said piece of the shell hit 
the cover of the kettle. Several mules were killed near the 
kitchen by a shell which dropped among them. 

Another day, soon after I had finished taking a bath out of 
a large can, a large shell landed where I had been for the 
last half hour. They seemed to be getting the range, and it was 
not long before we were ordered up closer to the lines where we 
had better protection and a dugout in which to sleep. 

After packing everything onto the carts we moved out of the 
protection of the woods. It was after night, and the road was 
camouflaged by a high brush fence, so that the Boche could not 
have seen us from their lines. The most dangerous spot, where 
shells landed frequently, was a steep grade where we had to 
block the wheels with long poles run between the spokes. 
After we had made the sharp turn at the bottom in safety, the 
plateau lay before us. 

(We backed the kitchen into a safe place and unloaded the 
supplies, covering the kitchen with large trees to scatter the 
smoke. The next job was a trip with the water cart. I had 
to walk over a hundred feet through mud over my shoe tops 
to get to the water, and I had to feel my way to the spring, 
the night was so dark. 

After filling the coffee boilers from the tank, we looked 
around the dugout for quarters. It was built about ten feet 
under the surface of the road, with several passageways run- 
ning out of it to other dugouts. It must have been the 
Boche headquarters in that sector. Some of the passages were 
400 feet long. The passage running to the Red Cross first aid 
station was very damp. The first chance I had the next morn- 
ing I made a block for that passage out of a large potato sack 
and strips of wood. 

The doorway to the dugout was less than four feet high, so 
we had to almost crawl into it. By night I had everything 
fairly comfortable. I had a box to sit on while reading or writ- 
ing. "Canned Heat" provided warmth. For a bed I spread 
several sacks on the board floor, covered them with one 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 35 



blanket, and then covered myself with three blankets and my 
rain coat. 

I never undressed at night, for we never knew what minute 
we would be routed out by a gas alarm or orders to move. 
I kept my gas mask and helmet right by my head ready for 
instant use at all times. The company was scattered along 
the lines in platoons, each of which sent a food detail for each 
meal, provided the shell fire did not prevent. The food was 
carried as usual in large cans. 

I was up against it for cans until I made some out of 10 
pound bacon tins, hammering down the rough edges at the 
top so the boys would not cut their hands. I fitted each can 
with a handle made out of heavy wire. I kept plenty of boil- 
ing hot water, very soapy, for washing the cans, and towels 
to wipe them dry. We used all the flour and sugar sacks for 
towels. 

We made doughnuts whenever we could get the flour, some 
days three of four for each boy. The bread came in 5 pound 
loaves, enough for ten boys. We served jam when we got 
enough to go around. 

The plateau was a grand sight in the daytime, when we 
could see everything that was going on. There was a con- 
crete pill box on top of our dugout which must have held a 
machine gun or two during the drive. A big vegetable gar- 
den near by was visited every night by some of the boys. 
The Boche must have been wise, for he plowed the place 
every night with all kinds of shells. I could hear the shells 
coming from the inside of the dugout, and they always seem- 
ed to be coming straight for me. 

On clear days we could see dozens of aeroplanes, many of 
them maneuvering to get pictures of any place that looked 
different or suspicious. Our anti-aircraft guns were always 
barking away at them, and once in a while we sent them back 
in a hurry. We had to keep on the watch for planes, and keep 
well under the trees so that we would not be seen. 

The country was well nigh desolate. None of the farmers 
had come back. For weeks I did not hear or see anything of 
a cow or a hen. How I longed to hear a rooster crow again! 

We found an elaborate power station in one dugout, from 
which the Boche had provided electricity for lights in differ- 
ent places, through power lines running along the ground. 
I woke up one morning with an itch which I blamed on the 
cooties, but the Doc said I had the German itch. I believed 
him. A day or so later I developed a large boil behind my 
ear down there in our Half Way to Hell Hotel, and after the 
Doc finished lancing said boil I had another count against 
the Boche. 

I found my glasses broken the morning of October 2nd. My pal 
must have stepped on my blouse while I was asleep. I 



36 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



managed to find time the next day to wash all my clothes and 
take a much needed bath. The next day was one to remember, 
for a K. C. man came around and gave us cigarettes, tobacco, 
and chocolate, free of charge. fThere was no Y. M. C. A. near 
us. 

October 6th I woke up with sharp pains in the muscles 
above my knee. The Doc gave me aspirin tablets to take 
every four hours and told me to rest a while. The weather 
was very cold. The next day I was no better, hardly able to 
crawl around and pack up my belongings before the ambu- 
lance arrived to take me to the hospital. Every seat was 
taken by men who had been wounded or gassed, and I had to 
stand on one foot, trying to save my bum leg. The pain 
was terrible. 

The road seemed all shell holes, and every little while a 
shell or two whizzed by overhead to give the engineers some 
more trouble on down the road. We found the first aid station 
nice and warm. It was located in a half-ruined church. 
They examined me carefully and sent me on in another am- 
bulance. jThe boys who had been burned by gas were put on 
tables and scrubbed with hot water to relieve the pain. All 
my equipment was left on a salvage pile. 

The ride to the field hospital was made with great difficulty, 
on account of the heavy rain. We skidded from one side of 
the road to the other and back again, but we finally arrived 
without any upsets. After a good sleep that night I rode 
twenty kilos further to Evacuation Hospital No. 6, near the 
old Verdun front. 

It was a clear day. I managed to get the end seat so that 
I could ease my leg from the continual jarring. We passed 
through the old Boche artilery positions, all of which had been 
well camouflaged, where equipment lay in heaps alongside the 
road. I saw a number of soldiers in one large village which 
had either escaped destruction or had been repaired quickly. 
The road was smooth after this, and we made a good forty 
miles an hour for a while. We passed by a camouflaged fence 
at least five kilos long. The road here could be seen twenty 
miles away on a clear day from the Boche observation balloons. 
Soon after passing a French hospital we arrived at our des- 
tination. 

I was able to walk into the hospital along with a number 
of our wounded, besides a bunch of German and Austrain 
wounded. Most of the stretcher bearers were prisoners. They 
were very careful in handling all litter cases, as many of them 
were very badly wounded. They took down all my history 
and then assigned me to a ward. The bed was the softest 
I had seen in France. 

My company was nearly wiped out soon after I left it by 
machine gun fire. While in the hospital I learned that only 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 37 



eight men were left. I saw 300 aeroplanes go over that day. 
They were flying in V-shaped battle formation, and certainly 
must have made a big hole in the Boche morale. The man 
who can face an aeroplane flying at him with a machine gun 
firing three hundred bullets a minute without running for a 
dugout is decidedly rare. A moving aeroplane is very hard to 
hit, and it takes a direct hit to damage them. 

I was sent to Base Hospital 26 October nth, where an X-ray 
showed pus pockets on my leg, caused by some injury, they told me. 
They cut into the pus pockets October iQth, and inserted a row of 
drainage tubes. I was in bed there until November 2Oth, when I 
was carried aboard an American Red Cross train. I was glad when 
I saw it was American, because the French carried wounded in box 
cars and gave little or no attention to a man who could not take care 
of himself. 

I stayed three and one-half months in Base Hospital 8 at Savenay. 
I went through "Marble Hall" (the operating room) twice. When 
we were told the armistice had been signed all I could do was shed 
a few tears, for I was flat on my back and nearly all my pals were 
dead. 

Fortunately I had a little money with me. The French woman in 
charge of the diet kitchen bought eggs for me in the village, at six 
francs a dozen. We feasted on roast ruck, mashed potatoes, pud- 
ding, bread, and coffee, Thanksgiving Day. Usually corn meal mush 
was all we got for breakfast, and the eggs were a great help. Once 
in a while we had corned beef hash, and then I always wanted sec- 
onds. 

I received no mail for three months, although I notified my or- 
ganization and the main postoffice. The first letter I received came 
February 2nd. It was dated October 5th. 

I was operated on for the third time February 7th. They gave 
me gas at first and then ether to make me sleep a long while. They 
scraped the. bone, and cut away a lot of decayed bone and a growth 
around the bone. 

February I4th a sergeant looked me up to see how I was getting 
along. Apparently the folks were not receiving my mail, either. 
Three days later the nurse from another ward where I had been 
several weeks brought me thirty-three letters which had been loop- 
ing the loop, some of them for five months. 

While lying in bed in the hospital I made a great many souvenirs 
and useful articles. I made a table mat out of string, and followed 
that with a "Lazy Squaw'' (basket), a most appropriate name, con- 
sidering the time I spent on it. The more I tried to strengthen it 
the more lop-sided it became. The Red Cross furnished us with 
a number of one pounder shells on which we painted various de- 
signs. We gave our first efforts to the Red Cross. I painted a 
caduceus on mine. I sent the next one to my uncle. 

February 28th the Doc said I must try to get up and walk around 
on cruthes. The orderly helped me lower my leg to the floor and 



38 GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 



to stand up. I had been in bed five months. How my feet did burn ! 
I did not walk any that day, but the next day I got to the next bed 
without a tumble, and in a little while I was down to the end of the 
ward. 

I left the hospital March 7th for St. Nazaire, where we boarded 
the transport for the States. We had the first real mush, rolled oats, 
for breakfast at St. Nazaire, that I had seen in months. H]ow tired 
I was of that corn meal mixed with water ! 

Hundreds of soldiers were boarding the transports. I saw many 
prisoners working about the port. For some reason all the French, 
both men and women, seemed to be in a great hurry, and moved 
around on the jump. I rode to the dock in an ambulance. They 
took my papers at the checking station and up the gang plank I went. 

I was assigned to an upper bunk where I had plenty of room to 
move around. The food was excellent. I made away with my 
share, all right, as I had been without proper food so long. 

At 10:30 a.m., March Qth, the band struck up a lively tune, the 
anchor was pulled aboard, and we started down the canal toward 
the open sea. The banks were lined with little Frogs who scrambled 
eagerly for the pennies and cigarettes thrown to them by the boys 
on the decks. Even the smallest of them, not over five years old, 
were crazy for the smokes, and puffed away contentedly when they 
got a light. 

I managed to take in some of the scenery through the port hole. 
We were soon out on the briny deep, and I was on my way to see 
the Girl 1 left behind me, more popularly known as the Statue of 
Liberty. The first day a lieutenant came around exchanging some 
of the real stuff for our French money. I had fifteen francs left to 
turn in. They passed out mince pie as a little hint of what was com- 
ing, and it did not take me long to get acquainted with it again. 

The sea was rough all night, so I did not sleep much. The Red 
Cross man brought a graphaphone into our compartment. That 
music was certainly grand. They brought us something extra every 
day, fruit or chocolate or tobacco. 

March i6th I found my bunk too narrow and moved up on deck, 
where I threw all my worries overboard. I found a box to sit on 
while I took in a little ocean scenery. We celebrated St. Patrick's 
Day by starting off with bacon, eggs, mush, bread, coffee, and or- 
anges. 

The next day we lost six 1 hours when the ship sprang a leak and 
the fires were put out in the engine room by the water rushing in. 
The hole was plugged at last, the water pumped out, and we went 
merrily on our way, making port on the 2Oth. We were taken off 
in a driving rain. The first people to greet us were the Red Cross 
women with baskets of sweets. 

I rode in an ambulance to Camp Stewart, Virginia, where, as soon 
as I got the chance, I downed five dishes of ice cream at the Red 
Cross house. After a good dinner I went to bed. I had a lot of 



GOING AND COMING AS A DOUGHBOY 39 



dental work done there. They pulled off all my bridge work and 
yanked out two badly decayed roots. 

We started on the last lap of the long journey back to the Golden 
West on the last day of March. The food on the train was of the 
best, bacon and eggs every morning with several other things thrown 
in. We were allowed seventy-five cents a meal while traveling. 
Nearly every town and city had some treat waiting for us. Bakers- 
field gave us a lot of fine oranges. The reception at Fresno was 
great. The eats included ice cream, jello, fruit, and the famous 
Fresno raisins. 

I tried to phone my folks from the Oakland Pier, but Central was 
asleep or worse. That was about midnight. After breakfast the 
next morning the lieutenant gave each of us $6.85, the amount due 
us from our ration allowance. We were met at the train by am- 
bulances, which took us across the bay on the nine o'clock ferry, 
and landed us at Letterman General Hospital in short order. 

After several X-ray and culture tests the clinic prescribed mas- 
sage. I needed it all right, as there was practically no play or bend 
in my knee. While in Ward 26 (we called it the dugout) I spent 
my time studying spelling, arithmetic, grammar, shorthand, typing, 
and Spanish, besides making bead chains and baskets which brought 
me some extra dollars. I had twenty-two chains at one sale at the 
White House. 

I wrote a little nearly every night on this story, and managed to 
keep very busy all the time. There were many opportunities for 
amusement and recreation, moving pictures and vaudeville at the 
American Red Cross house and outdoors, as well as chances to go 
on auto rides and to shows down town. When things got a little 
tiresome one or more of our friends always came along with a pic- 
nic, and many people came to see us afternoons. 

I was glad to be so near the folks, so I could run home now and 
then for a good home-cooked dinner. 

(Au Revoir.) 

PVT, ELMER H. CURTISS, 

Co. H, 102 Infty. 



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