100 Years Ago This Week: I Guess I Got it Too.

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.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.


Sunday July 28, 1918 – I guess I got it too.  Feel very “bum” today. Woolie  also in bed with the fever.  Hope I don’t have to stay in bed tomorrow.

Monday July 29 – Took a trip in side car today with Munday nearly to coast looking for forest fire. Fire was out when we got there but had a very good trip.

Tuesday July 30 “Oui-Oui” has been gone for nearly two weeks we now have “Chick” a little puppy about six inches round.  Full of pup life.

Wednesday July 31– Another fire in “C” cos woods today.  Everybody out fighting the fire which was defeated after a couple of hours fight.

Thursday August 1– The Americans are doing some neat work up the line.  The allies are advancing every day.

Friday August 2– We have moved our offices from the arena uptown to a building formerly used as a hotel.  Much better place for offices but not so handy as before.

Saturday August 3– Payday and Saturday combined.  Enough said. Shorty put on a party with Joe and  Schroeder.


The Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-1920

Last week on July 26, 1918 Poppa wrote that ” at least half of the fellows are sick with the Spanish Fever. ”  He described the effects of the disease this way:  “Makes one quite sick for a couple of days and for several days before strong again. ”  At the time Poppa and the rest of the world had not yet grasped the severity of this disease.  The Spanish flu eventually killed over 20 million people around the world and was one of the greatest disasters in history.   Not all people react to the disease in the same way.  Fortunately for Poppa he was apparently able to return to work on Monday July 29th after feeling “bum” the day before.

Patients lie in an influenza ward at a U.S. Army camp hospital in Aix-les-Baines, France, during World War I. PHOTOGRAPH BY CORBIS

Tuesday July 30 “Oui-Oui” has been gone for nearly two weeks we now have “Chick” a little puppy about six inches round.  Full of pup life.

Here Poppa was referring to a pet mascot that was being kept by their company.  Poppa referred to Oui-Oui earlier but now it appears that he has gone missing.  However, the company has a new pet named chick.

This article from the battalion newspaper contains more detail about the new dog adopted by A company and named “Chick”. Credit Michel Boquet for this article

Next Week: “Hell, Heaven or Hoboken before Christmas”

 

Sources:

“1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China, Historians Say.”National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 July 2018.

 

100 Years ago this week: Exam Very Unsatisfactory

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.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday July 14, 1918– Bastille Day.  French holiday and celebrated also by A.E.F.   Capt Campbell, Lieut. Benjamin and Lieut. Hatrick  have left for training  schools.  I left at 6:30 for Tours.  Rode all night in crowded train.

Monday July 15– Arriving at Tours at five this morning .  Went to headquarters. Found some of the twentieth fellows.  Took physical exam today.  Saw Tours this evening.

Tuesday July 16– Took exam at 3 P.M. today before two Lieut Colonels.  Exam very unsatisfactory. Not of engineering nature as I expected.  Leave for Dax at 12:00 tonight.

Wednesday July 17– Rode all night on train arriving at camp about 10:30.  Very Tired. Crowded train again. No sleep to speak of for three nights.  

Thursday July 18– Back on job again.  Weather very warm. Capt Elam (?)  is now C.O. and Lieut. Wilson adjutant and engineer officer.

Friday July 19– To damn hot to work

Saturday July 20- read or write


Bastille Day

Sunday July 14, 1918– Bastille Day is the common English name for the national day of France, which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year. The French National Day is the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

E.O.R.C. Exam

Last week on July 11 Poppa wrote  “Notified to attend examination for E.O.R.C.”

EORC apparently stands for the Engineer Officers Reserve Corp.  I believe passing this test would allow him to get an officers commission.  On July 14-15 he travelled to Tours, France, which was the headquarters for the U.S. Army Engineers, to take the exam.  However,  he reported that the “exam (was) very unsatisfactory”.  Apparently this means that he did not do well.

Meanwhile, on the front lines

After returning to his camp at Dax after the unsatisfactory exam it appears that the rest of the week was hot and uneventful for Poppa.  However, significant events happened elsewhere in France.

On July 14th 1918, Quentin Roosevelt, a pilot in the United States Air Service and the fourth son of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, was shot down and killed at the age of 20 by a German Fokker plane over the Marne River in France.

This picture from Wikipedia is captioned Quentin Roosevelt in Uniform 1917.

On July 15th, 1918, near the Marne River in France, the Germans began what would be their final offensive push of World War I.  Called the Second Battle of the Marne, the conflict ended several days later in a major victory for the Allies.

Forces of the German Army attacked the French Army east of Reims, while other Germans  attacked the French 6th Army to the west of the city. The dual attack was an attempt to divide and conquer the French forces, which were joined by 85,000 U.S. troops as well as a portion of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), most of which were located in Flanders.

When the Germans began their advance, however, they found that the French had set up a line of false trenches, manned by only a few defenders. The real front line of trenches lay further on, and had scarcely been touched by the bombardment.  As the Germans approached the “real” Allied front lines, they were met with a fierce barrage of French and American fire. Trapped and surrounded, the Germans suffered heavy casualties, setting the Allies up for the major counter-attack they would launch on July 18.  Germany’s defeat was seen as the beginning of the end for them in WWI.

Next Week: A forest Fire and the ‘Spanish Fever’

Sources: 

“Quentin Roosevelt.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Roosevelt. Accessed 12 July 2018.

“Second Battle of the Marne Begins with Final German Offensive.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/second-battle-of-the-marne-begins-with-final-german-offensive. Accessed 12 July 2018.

100 Years Ago This Week: First Battalion is Trying to Organize a Band.

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.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday July 7, 1918– Very hot today.  All stay in camp.  Hanger (?) and Kraft put on real party.

Monday July 8– Whole detachment is confined to camp on account of some parties pulled off during the last few days by sergeants, M.E and sailors (?).

Tuesday July 9– First battalion is trying to organize a band.  I should be ashamed of my spirit but I do not care to play and have tried to keep out of it but have been ordered out to practice every night this week.   Needless to say I did not argue, just went.

Wednesday July 10

Thursday July 11– A wonderful letter from Marion today.  I am very happy tonight. I am most anxious than ever to return alive now.  Notified to attend examination for E. O. R. C.

Friday July 12– Major Wiesel is today transferred to a training school.  Everyone in camp are very happy for Capt. Elam  is to take his place.

Saturday July 13– Capt Campbell (?) and Lt. Benjamam were today notified of their transfer to training (?) camp.  I sure hate to see Capt. Campbell go.


First Battalion Band

Tuesday July 9– First battalion is trying to organize a band.  

Does Poppa have musical talent that he can contribute by being part of the band?  The grocery store in Poynette has a display of historical pictures.  In a picture of the Poynette High School band from about 1908 Poppa is shown with a trombone.

Engineer Officers Reserve Corps

Thursday July 11–   Notified to attend examination for E. O. R. C.

EORC apparently stands for the Engineer Officers Reserve Corp.  The following description of the EORC is from the The Journal of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia and Affiliated Societies:

Candidates for appointment in the Engineer Officers Reserve Corps will be examined either a. for duty with combatant Engineer troops or other duties in the service of the front or b. for special service on the lines of communications or other points in rear including Engineer work in connection with seacoast defenses as hereinafter indicated Officers appointed under b will not ordinarily be assigned to combatant duties but will be subjected to such assignment whenever needed.   The examinations shall be especially directed to ascertaining the practical capacity of the applicant and the record of previous service and training of the applicant shall be considered as a part of the examination Military experience or training in the Regular Army Volunteers or National Guard or at training camps or educational institutions will be noted and reported by the board and considered in making the recommendations.

New Commanding Officer

Friday July 12– Major Wiesel is today transferred to a training school.  Everyone in camp are very happy for Capt. Elam  is to take his place.

The first commanding officer of Poppa’s unit was Edwin E. Hartwick.  After he died on March 31st, 1918 Major F. R. Weisel took command.  Now Captain Arthur W. Elam has become the commanding officer of the Company A.

Arthur W. Elam

Prior to entering the army Captain Arthur W. Elam was president of the A.W. Elam lumber company of San Francisco and was a logging engineer at Elam, Ormsbee and Staples.

From the March 1918 edition of the Timberman: “AW Elam of San Francisco Cal of the well known logging engineering firm of Elam, Ormsbee and Staples has arrived safely in France.   He is a captain in the 20th Engineers Forest and will give a good account of himself.”

According to a blog called Coast Redwood Adventures: “Elam Creek in Redwood National Park that crosses the Redwood Creek Trail was named after Captain Elam.”

Here is a video about the 20th Engineers in WWI.

Next Week: Exam very unsatisfactory

Sources:

“20thEngineers.Com.” 20thEngineers.Com – World War 1 – 10th Battalion, www.20thengineers.com/. Accessed 19 June 2018.

“Captain A. E. Elam. Redwood Forest Engineer.” Redwood Facts. Redwood Information. Sequoia Sempervirens., www.mdvaden.com/redwood_elam.shtml. Accessed 22 June 2018.

The Journal of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia and Affiliated Societies

 

 

 

100 Years Ago This Week: Dominion Day and A July Fourth Fire

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 St. Nazaire, 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.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday June 30, 1918– This is a Canadian holiday.  ‘Dominion Day’. We were invited to their celebration but due to rainy afternoon no games or other celebration took place.

Monday July 1– More mail today.  Some old Mary mail came that was lost.  3 from Marion, 3 from home, 1 from Ora.

Tuesday July 2– Very exciting indoor ball game in front of arena this night.  Non coms defeated in 17 innings by privates and wagoners. Loss-five Francs per man.  Many friends, spectators.

Wednesday July 3– Left this AM with Joe and Bill Hoback for Arengosse with load of men.  Slept in trucks at A-. 

 Thursday July 4th- Left early morning of fourth for Mont-de-Marsan.  Saw parade of French soldiers.  Town all decorated with French and American flags. Retd to Dax by noon. Baseball game in P.M. Fire broke out in sawmill.  All soldiers worked their heads off putting out the fire. Lucky for the owners our celebration was so handy or entire mill would have burned to the ground.  No fire Department no waterworks.  In evening Saw Douglas Fairbanks at casino.

Friday July 5th

Saturday July 6– Went swimming in river today. Rather dirty but wet and warm.  


Sunday June 30, 1918– This is a Canadian holiday.  ‘Dominion Day’.

Dominion Day is the former name for July 1, a national holiday observed in Canada to commemorate the formation of the Dominion in 1867.  Since 1982, it has been known as Canada Day.

Wednesday July 3– Left early morning of fourth for Mont-de-Marsan.

Mont-de-Marsan is a community that is the capital of the Landes department (or territory) in southwestern France.  Dax is also in Landes.  Mont-de-Marsan has a population of over 30,000 and is about 35 miles from Dax, where Poppa is stationed in 1918.  

Sawmill Fire

Thursday July 4th- Fire broke out in sawmill.  All soldiers worked their heads off putting out the fire.  Lucky for the owners our celebration was so handy or entire mill would have burned to the ground.  No fire Department no waterworks.

Michel Boquet is in possession of the diary of an American surgeon named E.C. Houle who served in Dax at the same time as Poppa.  In his diary for he wrote about the same event: “July 4th – A fire broke out in a big French sawmill in vicinity. I succeeded in dragging the mayor and all the men present, about 300, and helped materially to put out the blaze.”

Further research by Michel Boquet provided the following information related to the July 4th fire:  The fire threatened to destroy sawmill called “Maison Bernadet” which was one of the oldest and biggest operations in the area.  This  business was founded in 1801 and specialized in logging, and timber processing.  It was founded, owned and operated by the Bernadet family.   In appreciation of the efforts of the 20th Engineers the owners gave the battalion 1,000 francs.  At first the money was divided up among the various companies of the 20th Engineers that helped extinguish the fire.  However, eventually the men decided to donate the money to the French Red Cross to help their wounded soldiers.
Poppa did not mention this event in his journal.  However, this picture from the website 20th Engineers is labelled “Boxing 4 July, Dax, 1918.
Next Week:  First Battalion is Trying to Organize a Band.
Sources:
“20thEngineers.Com.” 20thEngineers.Com – World War 1 – 10th Battalion, www.20thengineers.com/. Accessed 19 June 2018
Boquet, Michel

100 Years ago This Week: The Newspapers are Very Encouraging

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.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday June 23, 1918– Rather quiet day. The past two weeks have been wet and rather cool.  Today is again warmer.

Monday June 24– Some mail today.  Two wonderful letters from Marion.  I am very happy today and henceforth.  Also letters from home.

Tuesday June 25– The newspapers are very encouraging.  Austrias failure of her offensive timed to Italy’s victory.  

Wednesday June 26– The hospital is rapidly getting into shape.  Have a good crew of carpenters who should not take long to build it.  

Thursday June 27– Not very busy today.  Weather warm. A few more letters from home.

Friday June 28– All quiet on the Dax sector today.

Saturday June 29– Took supper at Cheval Blanc.  Went to picture show in evening.  


Monday June 24– Some mail today.  Two wonderful letters from Marion.  I am very happy today and henceforth.

What was it about his latest letters from Marion Clarkson Brown that made him “very happy today and henceforth”?  Have they some how taken their relationship to a new level through the mail?

Italy Pushes Back

Tuesday June 25– The newspapers are very encouraging.  Austria’s failure of her offensive timed to Italy’s victory.

In 1915 Italy joined Britain as one of the Allied Powers.  Austria was on the German side.  On June 15th, 1918 Austrian troops began an offensive along the Piave River in Italy, at the urging of the Germans. Although suffering from a lack of food, horses and supplies, they crossed the river and established a 12-mile front, but then realize they can not hold it against the Italian Army and withdraw after suffering 150,000 casualties. Following this, Austrian soldiers in Italy begin deserting. This  Second Battle of the Piave River,  which ended on June 23rd, was a decisive victory for the Italian Army.   It would later become clear that the battle was in fact the beginning of the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Regimental Hospital

Wednesday June 26– The hospital is rapidly getting into shape.  Have a good crew of carpenters who should not take long to build it.

In a previous entry (Friday April 26, 1918) Poppa wrote– “Started survey for hospital site down the river around the hotel and seminary.  Many very interesting things around these places and have met several English speaking people.”  And, on Wednesday June 5, “Grading and setting sills for regimental hospital which will be located here.  Consisting of 5 large tents, five small and two buildings.”

Poppa refers to the ‘seminary’ in Dax, France.  The seminary was named for St. Vincent de Paul who was born in Pouy, near Dax, France  in 1581.  In the later half of the 19th century his followers built the seminary near the birthplace of Vincent.   The bull ring where Poppa served as part of Company A of the 20th Engineers is nearby.  During the WWI, the Great Seminary of Pouy was used as a civilian Hospital from September, 1st 1914 to January 27, 1919.
Apparently Poppa and the other engineers were engaged in building an American Army hospital near the existing civilian hospital which was housed in the seminary built to honor St. Vincent de Paul.  This hospital had been authorized by Poppa’s commanding officer Major Edward E. Hartwick prior to his death on March 31, 1918.  (Thank you to Michel Boquet for providing information about the seminary and hospital).
The Cheval Blanc (or White Horse) where Poppa had dinner on June 29th, 1918
Next Week: Dominion Day and A July Fourth Fire
Sources:
“Second Battle of the Piave River.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_the_Piave_River. Accessed 19 June 2018.

100 Years Ago This Week: We are Building Hospital Now

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army.  He was in 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 based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday June 16, 1918 – Rain all day.  Doing nothing but reading papers and magazines.  Aeroplanes still here. One will have to be shipped.

Monday June 17– Helped load aeroplane on truck today to be shipped to Pau.  Both planes were loaded on cars.

Tuesday June 18– Four aeroplanes flew over today.  One did several stunts for us -it seemed- directly  over our heads. Working on maps

Wednesday June 19– Tom left today for England with three other fellows.  All are to work in Excelsior factory. May return later but probably will remain in that country.

Thursday June 20– My brother’s birthday.  Here’s to him. I wish him many more happy birthdays and trust that we may spend them together.

Friday June 21– We are building hospital now.  Have a good force and hope to get it up soon.

 Saturday June 22– Have a new job for a few days.  “Mailman” while Kraft is away. This in connection with hospital keeps me busy.


Aeroplanes

June 15th, 1918 Poppa wrote in his journal: Two aeroplanes flew over today one having engine trouble both landed.  One did not have room to land, running into hedge, overturning and smashing machine badly.  No one hurt badly, one slightly.”  

This week he wrote that he helped load the planes onto “cars” for a trip to Pau which is about 60 miles southeast of Dax, where they landed.  Presumably the planes were transferred by rail.  Pau was the site of an aviator training center.

Michel Boquet, who is an expert on the history of forestry in the Landes region of France,  is in possession of the diary of a surgeon who served in Dax at the same time as Poppa.  Here is what the surgeon wrote about the same event:

“June 15, 1918 : Two airplanes from Pau attempt landing near les Arènes [the bull ring]. One monoplane successful but biplane crashes a small ditch and noses over.  Aviator slightly bruised and shocked.”

The physician mentions that there were 2 different types of planes.  The first planes such as the ones invented by the Wright brothers were biplanes which had one wing above another.  However,  by 1918 monoplanes were coming into more common use as they could fly faster than biplanes.

Excelsior Motorcycles

Wednesday June 19– Tom left today for England with three other fellows.  All are to work in Excelsior factory. May return later but probably will remain in that country.

During World War I The Excelsior company had a contract to make motorcycles for the U.S. army.  Apparently four soldiers from Poppa’s unit were transferred to work at the factory.  Did the production of motorcycles in England take precedence over milling lumber in France in 1918?

This picture was labelled: “Manufacture of motorcycles for the US Army at the plant of the Excelsior Motor Manufacturing and Supply Co., Chicago Ill.”

Hugh Clancy Jamieson

Thursday June 20– My brother’s birthday.  Here’s to him. I wish him many more happy birthdays and trust that we may spend them together.

Poppa was thinking of his older brother Hugh Clancy Jamieson  on what was his 30th birthday.   “Uncle Clancy”, as we knew him, was also in the army in 1918.  It appears that he served in the states as the only address for his  brother in his journal is Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois .  An article published in the (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal on Oct 15, 1917 indicated that “the Madison Boys in Company I want a Victrola to pass the time…”   According to the article the Victrola should be sent to Uncle Clancy at Camp Grant.

Brothers Hugh Clancy (upper left) and John Rodney Jamieson (upper right) pictured with some of their Jamieson cousins. Circa mid 1890s.
John Rodney (Poppa) and his older brother Hugh Clancy in the 1960s. They are in the office of the family business looking at a copy of their grandfather’s autobiography which they published and distributed to family members.

Next Week: The Newspapers are Very Encouraging

Sources:

Surgeon’s Diary, Michel Boquet

McGrath, Bob, et al. “100 Years Ago Excelsior in 1918.” The Vintagent, 14 Mar. 2018, thevintagent.com/2018/03/14/100-years-ago-excelsiors-in-1918/. Accessed 16 June 2018.

100 Years Ago This Week: We are Given our First Issue Tobacco

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army.  He was in 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 based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday June 9, 1918 – Took a long walk today about ten miles.  Found a pretty drive and returned along river.

Monday  June 10– Major Weisel leaves for ten day trip to southeastern France in his car.  Mail today.

Tuesday June 11– Working on maps for Capt. Berry of timberland.  Lots of drafting and blueprinting for this week.

Wednesday June 12– “Home” is rather quiet this week as Joe is in Arengosse helping the 43 engineers – one company – to get located.

 Thursday June 13– The Marines have made a name for themselves in their advance yesterday.

Friday June 14– Were given our first issue tobacco yesterday, consisting or 8 packages of “Bull Durham” and 25 cigarettes for one month.  Gave “Bull” away.

Saturday June 15– Two aeroplanes flew over today one having engine trouble both landed.  One did not have room to land, running into hedge, overturning and smashing machine badly.  No one hurt badly, one slightly.

—————————————————-

Monday  June 10– Major Weisel leaves for ten day trip to southeastern France in his car.  

Major Weisel is the commanding officer of Company A of the 20th Engineers. He took command after the death of Edward E. Hartwick on March 31st, 1918.

Tobacco Issued

Friday June 14– Were given our first issue tobacco yesterday, consisting or 8 packages of “Bull Durham” and 25 cigarettes for one month.  Gave “Bull” away.

Prior to World War I pipe smoking was more popular among American men than cigarettes and any type of smoking was considered “unlady like”.  When the United States entered the war in 1917 tobacco companies saw an opportunity and marketed cigarettes to the soldiers as an escape and morale booster.  Cigarettes became so popular that they were used as a form of currency among soldiers.

Back home in America as women began filling jobs that became available as men joined the military they also began to take up smoking.  Campaigns were initiated to provide tobacco to the troops over seas.  The American Tobacco company of Durham started a program that allowed any American citizen or organization to provide a soldier with a gift box of 2 packages of Lucky Strike cigarettes, 3 packages of Bull Durham tobacco, 3 books of Bull Durham cigarette papers, 1 tin Tuxedo tobacco, and 4 books of Tuxedo brand cigarette papers for less than retail price.  When it was determined that not enough tobacco was getting to the troops through these contributions the American tobacco company took their products off the market and contracted directly with the U.S. government to provide tobacco to our soldiers.

For soldiers, tobacco was seen not only as an item of comfort but also as a battlefield necessity.  Contemporary studies supposedly demonstrated that soldiers could go an additional two hours between meals if they smoked, the tobacco serving as an appetite suppressant.

Poppa did not specify whether his tobacco ‘issue’ came directly from the army or if was a provided by private parties.  Apparently he was not a pipe smoker because he gave away the loose Bull Durham tobacco  but kept the cigarettes.

Aerial Warfare

Saturday June 15– Two aeroplanes flew over today one having engine trouble both landed.  One did not have room to land, running into hedge, overturning and smashing machine badly.  No one hurt badly, one slightly.

When America entered the war in 1917 they did not have an air force.  combatants on both sides were trying to figure out how to use planes as weapons of war.   The first aerial bombing occurred in 1911 when a pilot threw grenades at the enemy from his plane.  According to the website onthisday.com the first aerial bombing raid by an American unit occurred on June 12, 1918.

Is it possible that the “aeroplanes” that landed in Dax  France 3 days later were related to this event?

Next Week:  We are building Hospital Now

Sources:

“Bull Durham Tobacco, To the Rhine and Back.” NC DNCR, 16 Nov. 2017, www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2017/11/16/bull-durham-tobacco-rhine-and-back. Accessed 8 June 2018.

“Smoking in the United States Military.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_in_the_United_States_military. Accessed 8 June 2018.

100 Years Ago This Week: Marines are Making a Name for Themselves

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 June 2, 1918– Very warm today.  Everyone laying around camp.

Monday June 3– Nothing of interest

Tuesday June 4– Ten years ago today I graduated from P.H.S.  Little did I think then of being over here in the army at this time.

Wednesday June 5– Grading and setting sills for regimental hospital which will be located here.  Consisting of 5 large tents, five small and two buildings.

Thursday June 6– Went to casino this night.  Not much of picture.

Friday June 7– Marines are making a name for themselves.  Kaiser BIll will find out that Americans are more than second class troops.

Saturday June 8– Have not received any mail for some time.  Must be letters for us somewhere.


Tuesday June 4– Ten years ago today I graduated from P.H.S.  Little did I think then of being over here in the army at this time.

John Rodney Jamieson Poynette High School class of 1908. High school graduation picture.

Regimental Hospital

Wednesday June 5– Grading and setting sills for regimental hospital which will be located here.  Consisting of 5 large tents, five small and two buildings.

In a previous entry (Friday April 26, 1918) Poppa wrote– Started survey for hospital site down the river around the hotel and seminary.  Many very interesting things around these places and have met several English speaking people.

Poppa refers to the ‘seminary’ in Dax, France.  The seminary was named for St. Vincent de Paul who was born in Pouy, near Dax, France  in 1581.  In the later half of the 19th century his followers built the seminary near the birthplace of Vincent.   The bull ring where Poppa served as part of Company A of the 20th Engineers is nearby.  During the WWI, the Great Seminary of Pouy was used as a civilian Hospital from September, 1st 1914 to January 27, 1919.
Apparently Poppa and the other engineers were engaged in building an American Army hospital near the existing civilian hospital which was housed in the seminary built to honor St. Vincent de Paul.  This hospital had been authorized by Poppa’s commanding officer Major Edward E. Hartwick prior to his death on March 31, 1918.  (Thank you to Michel Boquet for providing information about the seminary and hospital).

Battle of Belleau Wood

Friday June 7– Marines are making a name for themselves.  Kaiser Bill will find out that Americans are more than second class troops.

Poppa is likely referring to the fact that the U.S. Marines had some success against the Germans in the Battle of Belleau Wood.  Although the Battle started on June 1st and lasted until June 26th, on June 6th the Marines were able to stop the advance of the Germans and turn them back.  The courage and tenacity demonstrated by the Marines during this battle helped to build their legacy.

Cover of sheet music ‘Comic song’ about Wilhelm II (1859-1941). He was the German emperor and king of Prussia from 1888 to 1918. The American soldiers saw him as the leader of the enemy although controversy continues regarding whether the Germany army was controlled by him or by his generals.

Next Week: We are Given our First Issue Tobacco

Sources:

“Battle of Belleau Wood.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Belleau_Wood. Accessed 2 June 2018.

 

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.

 

100 Years Ago This Week: Not Much Work to do for me

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 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 19, 1918– Officers ball game at Co. A today against 6th Bn officers.  Also game between “A” and “C”. in evening I went to Co. “C” Y.M.C.A. to lecture.

Monday May 20–  Lloyd is confined to camp for six weeks due to A.W.O.L. one evening last week in camp Victor.

Tuesday May 21– Payday today everyone has been broke for nearly a month.

Wednesday May 22– The engineers and medics have a ball game with indoor ball in evening.  Have had several games thus far.

Thursday May 23– Not much work to do for me.  At companies they are getting out lots of lumber and all feel that now they are doing something.

Friday May 24– Making  map of location for regimental infirmary which is to be at this place.

Saturday May 25– Rec’d a Christmas box from home today.


Monday May 20–  Lloyd is confined to camp for six weeks due to A.W.O.L. one evening last week in camp Victor.

It can be inferred from this entry and others in his diary that the soldier named Lloyd was not always the best rule follower.  Months earlier on December 19, 1917 Poppa made this entry in his journal  “Very quiet day but mighty noisy night.   Hill and Lloyd have mock wedding and raise h-l till Midnight.” 

Thanks to Michel Boquet for finding this picture of S.R. Lloyd. who apparently was not always as serious acting as he appears in this picture.

Wednesday May 22– The engineers and medics have a ball game with indoor ball in evening.  Have had several games thus far.

Based on several journal entries it appears that the soldiers enjoyed playing baseball.  But what is he referring to when he writes of “indoor ball”?

Thursday May 23– Not much work to do for me.  At companies they are getting out lots of lumber and all feel that now they are doing something.

One main purpose of the 20th engineers in France was to produce lumber.  That is why they were sent to the Dax area which is in the edge of a large forest.  This is the second time that Poppa reported that the engineers were producing lots of lumber.  In previous posts he had expressed frustration with how little they seemed to be contributing to the war effort.  However, on May 2, 1918  they started up the newer bigger lumber mills which resulted in significantly increased production of lumber.

First French mill used by 1st Co., Mees
Production of lumber increased significantly when the older, smaller French mill was replaced with this 20 M mill.

Saturday May 25– Rec’d a Christmas box from home today.

Like soldiers in every era Poppa looked forward to receiving mail from home.  It must have been frustrating when it took over five months for Christmas packages sent from Wisconsin to reach him in France.

According to the Postal Museum “During World War I, the postal system experienced unprecedented growth. Between July 1, 1917 and June 30, 1918 the Post Office Department dispatched 35 million letters to the American Expeditionary Forces.”  “In May 1918, the War Department assumed responsibility for overseas post offices. Military personnel replaced Post Office Department employees who had been sent to operate the field stations. The Military Postal Express Service (MPES) was the first all-military mail service in American history.

Next Week:  Not very good news just now.

Source:

“Expanded Service 1898-1920s.” Methods of Communication That Have Threatened Letter Writing. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2018.