100 Years Ago This Week: Not Very Good News Just Now.

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, joined the United States Army.  He was assigned to the 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November he sailed to St. Nazaire, France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is now based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday May 26, 1918  – A concert in arena this P.M. by Monte Carlo concert company.  Very good.

Monday May 27 – Box from Marion today which was mailed on Dec. 5th.  A box full of surprises. I had given this up as lost long time ago.

Tuesday May 28 – Tom went to Tours last night to take exam for commission.  Hope he hears inside of two months anyway.

Wednesday May 29– The weather is getting very warm.  What will it be like in July and August!

Thursday May 30– Malone arrives back from hospital.  Holiday for us. First BN team defeated sixth in baseball 1 to 0 in 13 innings.  Douglas Fairbanks at casino tonight

Friday May 31– Not much doing today.  Very warm.  A General…(?) visited camp this morning.  

Saturday June 1– The big drive started again last Monday.  Not very good news just now.


  • Tours, France

Tuesday May 28 – Tom went to Tours last night to take exam for commission.  Hope he hears inside of two months anyway.

Tours is a community about 300 miles from Dax.  The forestry regimental headquarters was located there.

On this map Tours is marked as the regimental headquarters for the 10th Engineers.
  • Decoration Day

Thursday May 30– … Holiday for us. 

On May 5, 1866 there was a ceremony in Waterloo, New York to honor veterans of the civil war.  The observance eventually became known as Decoration Day or Memorial Day and was held annually on May 30th .  By 1900 ceremonies were being held all over the nation and recognized by governmental agencies.

After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.  In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

  • Douglas Fairbanks

 Thursday May 30 Douglas Fairbanks at casino tonight

In 1918 Fairbanks was the most popular actor in Hollywood, and one of the highest paid.  Presumably Poppa saw a Douglas Fairbanks movie at the casino and not the man himself.

Douglas Fairbanks circa 1910s

  • Third Battle of the Aisne

Saturday June 1– The big drive started again last Monday.  Not very good news just now.

Poppa is probably referring her to the fact that the German army was achieving some success against the French and British.  The Germans had started an offensive on May 27, 1918 successfully demolishing four French divisions and advancing 12 miles into French territory.  The Germans were not as successful elsewhere on the Western Front, however, as an Allied force including some 4,000 Americans scored a major victory at Cantigny, on May 28.

Next Week: Marines are Making a Name for Themselves 

Sources:

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.” Go to VA.gov. N.p., 18 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 May 2018.

“Douglas Fairbanks.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 May 2018. Web. 23 May 2018.

Third Battle of the Aisne Begins.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 23 May 2018.

 

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