Background: In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November he sailed to France aboard a troop transport ship. He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France. Many of the soldiers around him have come down with the Spanish flu.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday August 18, 1918– Took nice long walk with Brundage this morning . Wrote a few letters, read and rested the balance of the day. Letters from home and Marion today.
Monday August 19– Rcd letter from Ollie Schrieber telling of his arrival in France. Walter Jessup has also been here about a month.
Tuesday August 20– (No Entry)
Wednesday August 21– Letter from Doc(?) telling of his arrival somewhere in France hope to meet soon.
Thursday August 22– Awfully hot weather. From the (?) it looks as though the water was very rough tonight.
Friday August 23– Have band practice every Monday and Friday night. Sometimes (?)
Saturday August 24– Joe, Marshall and Woolie come to the camp at midnight in a carriage.
Sunday August 18, 1918– Took nice long walk with Brundage.
I don’t have any more information about Sergeant Brundage except that In his address book Poppa wrote “M.R. Brundage, Sonora, California”
August 19th and 21st, 1918
On these days Poppa noted in his journal that he had received letters from friends who were also in France. It appears that the soldiers did not specify where in France they were stationed. This is likely because the army had rules that details could not be included in letters for fear that they would fall into enemy hands.
Meanwhile, back in the states: The ‘National Pastime’ is under fire
When the United Sates entered the war in 1917 many people made sacrifices for the war effort. Men were encouraged to take work related to the war effort or to enlist in the army. Major league baseball was criticized in 1917 when team owners continued with their regular schedule. This didn’t sit well with some who felt that baseball did nothing to support the war effort. Team owners countered that, as the national pastime, baseball was keeping stateside spirits and patriotism high.
Shortly after the beginning of the 1918 season Provost Marshall General Enoch Crowder, director of the military draft, decreed that by July 1, all draft-eligible men employed in “non-essential” occupations must apply for work directly related to the war—or gamble being called into military service.
Despite pleas for leniency from baseball’s owners, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker agreed with Crowder: Life as a ballplayer was non-essential. Enlist to help stateside, or risk going to the front lines of Europe.
The team owners got a bit of a reprieve as Baker delayed the date from July 1 to September 1 and 100 years ago this week, on August 24th, 1918, allowed an exemption for those players who played in the world series.
Next Week: Joe Saves a Kid from drowning.
“1918 All Work or Fight and No Play.” The Ballparks: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, www.thisgreatgame.com/1918-baseball-history.html. Accessed 17 Aug. 2018.