100 Years ago this week: Poppa Arrives at Army Candidate School

 Background:  It is November of 1918 and more than one year since my grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted  in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers.  In November, 1917 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.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday November 3, 1918– Did not go to Pau yesterday.  Rain all day nothing to do but sit by fire, read, play cards and wait for orders to pack up and go.  

Monday November 4– Waited all day for final orders, none came until 5 P.M. tonight.  Will probably leave tomorrow. Austria quit fighting today at 3 P.M. Hope war is over before we get to school.

Tuesday November 5– Left at 6:30 P.M. for A.C.S.  The boys of our tent-all of us have been together for a year- gave me a nice pocket bill book as a parting gift.

Wednesday November 6 – Arrived in Paris about 10:00 stay at a good hotel run by the Y.M.C.A.  Lost barracks bag and spent whole day in subway running from depot to depot.  

Thursday November 7– Arrived at school without barracks bags.  The A.T.O. promised to forward them later.  Hope they reach us soon.

Friday November 8– Spent day getting settled in.   Mud is about a foot deep, nothing like camp we had at Dax.

Saturday November 9– Worked all a.m. on rock pile.  In p.m. we went over three miles after hay for (?) bedsack.  Carried it back on my shoulder. Start (?) getting settled.


Poppa has been in France for nearly a year.  He has written several times in recent weeks that he did not like his job and would prefer to do something else.  He also wrote that he was being considered by his supervisors for A.C.S.  which, I believe refers to ‘army candidate school’ .   Based on his writings it appears that he got his wish and that it happened suddenly.  He wrote that on the evening of November 5th, 1918 he said goodbye to his buddies and left for A.C.S.  He arrived the next day in Paris without his luggage which apparently was lost on the trip.  He stayed over night in Paris at “… a good hotel run by the Y.M.C.A.”

Does this business card advertise the hotel where Poppa stayed in Paris in 1918?

The United States army established several training schools in the Paris area during 1917-18.  According to the 1919 publication  “Historical Report of the Chief Engineer” the Army Engineers School was opened at Langres on October 31, 1917, and later moved to Fort St. Menge.  Courses taught included bridging, camouflage, flash and sound ranging, mining, pioneering, topography and searchlight.  By November 1st of 1918 400 candidates per month were being enrolled in the school.

Langres is a very old French city with a current population of about 10,000.

A modern picture of Langres, France

Although Poppa indicated that he travelled to Paris,  presumably by train, He does not yet mention Langres by name.  Located  almost 200 miles to the east of Paris he apparently arrived there on November 7th.  Was he a member of the class of 400 that was to start on November 1st?

On the battle front

WWI is near its end.  Germany is now retreating as French and American troops move to re- take Sedan, France which Germany had occupied for 4 years. German emperor and King of Prussia Wilhem II abdicates.

Next Week:  Armistice!

Sources:

Historical Report of the Chief Engineer, 1919:  Washington Government Printing Office

Thank you to Michel Boquet for information about  and for pointing out resources on US army training camps in France

 

100 Years ago This Week: Letters are the greatest means of encouragement these days.  

 Background:  It is October 1918 and more than one year since my grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted  in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers.  In November, 1917 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.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday October 27, 1918We had a basketball game today with “C” company.  We won 16 to 10. Very stiff and tired tonight as I am not used to so much exercise.

Monday October 28– We were re-classified last week.  Am afraid it will do no good but maybe, possibly, perhaps something might happen. 

Tuesday October 29– British “Royal Blue Horse Guards Band” played here yesterday.  Good music but not enough “Pep” for outdoor military concert.

Wednesday October 30– Another nice bunch of mail today.  Letters are the one big event and greatest means of encouragement these days.  

Thursday October 31 – News came this P.M. (Unofficial) that Turkey quits.  Hope so. Entertainment by American girls at the new ‘Y’ tonight.  Guess we will all be there.

Friday November 1– Good news today.  Major B______ told me he would send in my name for me in answer to a telegram for two men for Engineers Army candidate school.

Saturday November 2– Expect to go to Pau with Captain Elam for weekend this P.M. returning Monday morning. 


Tuesday October 29– British “Royal Blue Horse Guards Band” played here yesterday.  Good music but not enough “Pep” for outdoor military concert.

The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (The Blues) (RHG) was part of the British Army.  It was formed in 1650 and its coat of arms was blue.  The regiment served in many wars including WWI.

Thursday October 31 Entertainment by American girls at the new ‘Y’ tonight Guess we will all be there.

Poster designed by N. McMein, 1918, “One of the Thousand Y.M.C.A. Girls in France.” 1986.3051.04. Recto. | After conservation treatment.

During WWI the YMCA was a different organization than we think of today.  According to The History of the YMCA in WWI the ‘Y’ provided 90% of the welfare services available to the military both at home and overseas.  The Red Cross and USO were not yet the organizations we think of today and when American needed to quickly build an army to fight overseas the YMCA also mobilized.  During the ‘Great War’ 35,000 YMCA volunteers worked to meet the welfare of our forces overseas.  Of the men and women working with the YMCA there were 286 casualties during the war.

Saturday November 2– Expect to go to Pau with Captain Elam for weekend this P.M. returning Monday morning.   

 Pau is a city in southwestern France, set along the Pyrenees mountains’ northern edge approximately 50 miles from the Spanish border.  Pau is about 55 miles from Dax where Poppa’s company is located.  Poppa didn’t say whether the trip to Pau would be for work or pleasure.

Meanwhile, on the front lines

The war was nearing its end.  The Germans and allies lack men and resources and the civilians were protesting the war.  The head of the German Navy decided to stage a major naval battle against the British.  However, on October 29, 1918 German sailors refused their orders to attack the British and began a revolt which began the German Revolution.  On October 30th Turkey signed an armistice with the Allies.

On the Home Front

During the last week of October, 1918  21,000 Americans died from the Spanish Flu epidemic.

 

Next Week:  Poppa Arrives at Army Candidate School

 

100 Years ago this week: We … would rather go to the front and help make them surrender.

Background:  It has now been over one year since Poppa joined 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, 1917  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.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday October 6,  1918– Report came today that “Central Powers” have asked for armistice to discuss peace terms according to Pres. Wilson’s provisions.

Monday October 7– More peace news today.  We would all like to go home but would rather go to the front and help make them surrender.  Payday today.

Tuesday October 8– We now have a basketball court inside of the arena.  The ground is very smooth and hard making a good place.

Wednesday October 9– Today was mail day bringing me twelve letters.

Thursday October 10– Spend the day staking out the new warehouse in the station yard.  We need this building very much to handle our supplies.

Friday October 11– Joe applies for another transfer.  Marshalls “across the street girl” polished the door knob only six times today.

Saturday October 12– Have made a big map showing front.  My job is to move the pins each day as  advance keeps on going.

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Optimism about the War

On October 6th and 7th Poppa wrote that there was talk of peace.  He might be referring to the fact that on October 4th President Wilson received a request from the Germans asking for an armistice discussion based on his 14 points.  Apparently the Germans approached the American president instead of the British and French who they had been fighting since 1914 because they felt they would get more favorable treatment from Wilson.  The 14 points refer to a set of principles of peace that Woodrow Wilson outlined in a speech in January of 1918.

Is Poppa smiling in this picture because there is talk of peace?

Tuesday October 8

“We now have a basketball court inside of the arena.  The ground is very smooth and hard making a good place.”

When Poppa’s unit arrived in Dax France in late 1917 they were provided with a bullfighting arena to use as their headquarters.  Although Bullfighting is popular in Spain the Dax arena is the only one in France.  Apparently, because they are only 30 miles from the Spanish border Dax residents were influenced enough by the Spanish culture to build an arena.

A contemporary picture of the Dax Arena

 

Meanwhile, on the Front lines: Corporal Alvin York

Although Poppa would likely not know about it yet October 8, 1918 was the date of a legendary event.   During a battle on this date Alvin York was part of a group of American soldiers sent to attack a German machine gun position.  After his superiors were killed York was placed in command.  He continued to fight.  When it was over he had singlehandedly killed at least 25 German soldiers and captured 132 more.

Sergeant Alvin York

His heroics were depicted in the Oscar winning 1941 filmSergeant York” starring Gary Cooper.

 

Next Week: Who am I working for?

Sources:

“The History Place – World War I Timeline – 1918 – A Fateful Ending.” The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline, www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/firstworldwar/index-1918.html. Accessed 5 Oct. 2018.

“Sgt. Alvin York Kills 25 German Soldiers.” OnThisDay.com, On This Day, www.onthisday.com/photos/sgt-alvin-york-kills-25-german-soldiers. Accessed 6 Oct. 2018.

100 Years ago This Week: This little diary is over a year old

Background:   It is September of 1918.  My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, is serving in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers.    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.  He is approaching the one year anniversary of his enlistment.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday September 22, 1918– Quiet on the Dax Front.  Much to do to answer my fourteen letters of Friday and Saturday.   

Monday September 23– After writing above went with Joe Gill, (?) Bill Munday and Lieut. Wilson to Capbreton.  Ocean rough and weather bad growing strong at night. Had good time and glad I went to the beach.  

Tuesday September 24– We play a great deal of Black Jack with our issue (?) Bull Durham.  I won most of it in this camp the first of the month. But today lost the entire eight sacks.  

Wednesday September 25– Working with my namesake locating R.R. between Mees and Co A. (?) mil.  Tired and (?) by tonight.

Thursday September 26– Still locating R.R. spur.  Enjoy this work much more than the inside drafting.  One year ago today I held up my hand at Jefferson Barracks.  

Friday September 27– This little diary is over a year old and although very poorly and hurriedly written will be might interesting to go over afterwards.  

Saturday September 28– Market day is alway interesting.  The numerous pheasants with their baskets of geese and chickens (?) or (?) one might (?) to sell to the highest bidder.


Transcribing Poppa’s journals

Poppa’s journals for 1917 and 1918. For some reason he used a journal containing a 1913 calendar for his 1917 entries. You can’t tell from the picture but these are shirt pocket size.

Sometimes it is difficult to decipher what Poppa wrote.  The journal is small, his handwriting cramped and faded after 100 years.  As you can see by all of the (?)s above, this week’s page was particularly difficult to read.  Want to give it a shot?  Here is  a copy of the journal page for this week.

Here is a screen shot of Poppa’s journal entries for the Week of September 22, 1918.

 

Capbreton

Monday September 23-“…went with Joe Gill, (?) Bill Munday and Lieut. Wilson to Capbreton.  Ocean rough and weather bad growing strong at night. Had good time and glad I went to the beach.”

Capbreton is a community in France that is located on the Bay of Biscay  In 1918 it had about 1,500 residents.   It is about  25 miles from Poppa’s camp in Dax, France.

The beach at Capbreton

 

MonthlyTobacco Issue

Tuesday September 24– “We play a great deal of Black Jack with our issue (?) Bull Durham.  I won most of it in this camp the first of the month. But today lost the entire eight sacks.”  

Previously Poppa reported that the soldiers receive a monthly issue of tobacco.  Some is in the form of cigarettes and some is loose Bull Durham.  Poppa prefers the cigarettes.

2nd Lieutenant Bruce Jameyson  (1891-1978)

Wednesday September 25– “Working with my namesake locating R.R. between Mees and  Co. A (?) mil.  Tired and (?) by tonight.”

Last week Poppa introduced us to Bruce Jameyson.  Poppa seems amused because of the similarity of their last names.  Apparently he is referring to him as his ‘namesake’.

Friday September 27– “This little diary is over a year old and although very poorly and hurriedly written will be might interesting to go over afterwards. “

Poppa enlisted in the army and wrote his first journal entry on September 24th, 1917.  He has survived his first year in the army.  

Next Week:  We play cards every night to see who gets to build the fire.

100 Years ago this week: Marion. She is the true girl alright!

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.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday September 15, 1918– Very warm today.  Nothing doing. All of us are resting, reading and writing.

Monday September 16– Nothing today.

Tuesday September 17– Mac says just six more months to St. Patricks day

Wednesday September 18– This seemed the longest day in France.  Hot, sutry, time hanging heavy. Everyone has complained today.

Thursday September 19– Capt. Campbell arrived in camp today for a seven day leave.  Has written that I will be sent to the next training camp and assigned to his company.  It is O.K. with me.

Friday September 20– Lots of mail today (11 letters).  Three from Marion. She is the true girl alright.

Saturday September 21– Doing a little work-mapping- today with Lieut Jameyson.  He is from U. of C. Berkley. Knows Wiskvert(?)


Marion Clarkson Brown- The future Mrs. Jamieson

Friday September 20 Lots of mail today (11 letters).  Three from Marion. She is the true girl alright.

Marion was born in the St; Louis area and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1916.  Presumably that is where she and Poppa met.  Based on Poppa’s journal entries it seems that their relationship became more serious while Poppa was overseas in France.

This picture of Marion Clarkson Brown can be found in the class of 1916 year book of the University of Wisconsin.

Marion was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority while at the UW.

2nd Lieutenant Bruce Jameyson  (1891-1978)

Saturday September 21– ‘Doing a little work-mapping- today with Lieut Jameyson.  He is from U. of C. Berkley.’

The website of the University of California-Berkley contains a memorial page to Bruce Jameyson who obtained a  degree in engineering from that institution in 1917 and immediately joined the U.S. army.  After the end of WWI he returned to U. of C.-B and worked as an professor of engineering until he retired in 1956.  He was also associated with the public works Department where he made engineering decisions for about 100 bridges in the area.

Poppa did not clearly identify the ‘Lieut Jameyson’  he worked with.  However, it is likely that  the link to UC- Berkley and the common theme of engineering means that the distinguished  professor was one and the same.

Meanwhile, on the front lines

The Americans and their allies continue to make significant gains and are now winning battles.   The enemies armies are in retreat and their morale is low,

 

Next Week: This Little Diary is Over a Year Old!

Sources:

“The History Place – World War I Timeline – 1918 – A Fateful Ending.” The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline, www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/firstworldwar/index-1918.html. Accessed 15 Sept. 2018.

 

100 Years Ago This Week: I Have Asked for a New Job

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.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday September 8, 1918– A quiet day.  Writing letters, reading, etc

Monday September 9– The tennis court is very popular.  We play tennis, sometimes baseball but something for exercise every evening.  Much needed after days confinement in office.

Tuesday September 10– News today that sec Baker has again arrived in France.  Perhaps to see the big offensive of the American army which must start soon.  Our front has been quiet for some time now.

Wednesday September 11– Have asked for a new job.  Am tired of maps, tracings, and blueprints.  

Thursday September 12– The American offensive started today.  The townspeople are much excited tonight over the first report of the success.

Friday September 13– This is supposed to be an unlucky day but not so for the “Armie Americane” with their 13,000 prisoners.

Saturday September 14– An aeroplane flew over very low today giving a little demonstration of turning and diving.

 


Success on the western front 

Three of Poppa’s entries this week refer to the progress of the war.  On September 10th he noted that secretary of war Baker had arrived in France.  In a previous journal entry for October 31st, 1917 Poppa wrote that Secretary Baker had visited  their headquarters.  Is it possible that Poppa, a lowly private in the US army, had the chance to meet the secretary of war?

Newton D. Baker served as secretary of war from 1916 until 1921.  Baker,  of Cleveland  Ohio, supported Wilson at the 1912 Democratic National Convention.  Supporting a candidate in the election gets you a position in the presidential cabinet later?  Things haven’t changed.

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker

September 12, 1918 –  “The American offensive started today.  The townspeople are much excited tonight over the first report of the success.”

 The battle of St. Mihiel began when the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) attacked the southernmost portion of the Western Front in France at St. Mihiel.  This was the first operation of the Americans as an independent army.   The offensive was supported by  1,476 Allied aircraft used as part of a coordinated air-ground attack. It was the largest air force ever assembled for a single operation, consisting of 366 observation airplanes, 323 day bombers, 91 night bombers, and 701 pursuits. Also on hand were 15 US and six French balloon companies.

According to Wikipedia this photo is labelled: Battle of St. Mihiel-American Engineers returning from the front

Within 36 hours, the Americans take 15,000 prisoners and capture over 400 pieces of artillery as the Germans withdraw.

 It was the first and only offensive launched solely by the United States Army in World War I.

The fighting was depicted in the 1927 film Wings.

Next Week:   Marion.  She is the true girl alright!

Sources:

2 2000 By, Walter J. Boyne, et al. “  // .” Air Force Magazine, www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2000/February%202000/0200mihiel.aspx. Accessed 8 Sept. 2018.

“U.S. Launches Saint-Mihiel Offensive.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-launches-saint-mihiel-offensive. Accessed 8 Sept. 2018.

“Battle of Saint-Mihiel.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saint-Mihiel. Accessed 8 Sept. 2018.

 

100 Years ago this week: we should have much better eats now

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  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.

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Sunday September 1, 1918– The medics left our mess today for their own new mess hall.  We should have much better eats now. Pumpkin pie for dinner today.

Monday September 2– “Labor Day” all are laboring too.  Some nice mail today is the most interesting thing to write about.

Tuesday September 3– Were issued tobacco for Sept. at 12:30 this morn but was all gone at 1:00 Great sport playing poker with Bull Durham.  

Wednesday September 4– Joe sells tickets on the world series.  Eighteen of us out of twenty drew blanks but Joe says it was perfectly on the square.  

Thursday September 5– The tennis courts are being used very extensively.  The courts are good. The Y.M. C.A. have furnished the equipment and we enjoy it.  

Friday September 6– We have remodeled the tent fixing up the floor sides and frame.  Will have a much more comfortable place this winter.

Saturday September 7– Payday and Mail day.  Two of the letters were from Marion.  The very best yet.


Mess Hall

Sunday September 1, 1918– The medics left our mess today for their own new mess hall.

Mess hall 1st Co., Mees

Labor Day

Monday September 2– “Labor Day” all are laboring too.  Some nice mail today is the most interesting thing to write about.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City.  So it was a pretty well established holiday by the time Poppa celebrated it in France in 1918.

Tobacco Rations

Tuesday September 3– Were issued tobacco for Sept. at 12:30 this morn but was all gone at 1:00 Great sport playing poker with Bull Durham.  

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.

The World Series of 1918

Wednesday September 4– Joe sells tickets on the world series.  Eighteen of us out of twenty drew blanks but Joe says it was perfectly on the square.  

In 1918 The world series was played between September 5th and 11th.  The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs in 6 games.

The World War I “Work or Fight” order forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and 1918 is the only World Series to be played entirely in September.

The rushed timing of things was due to the obligation of players drafted into the military to leave their teams and go to war.

According to Wikipedia the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major leaguegame. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1, the band began playing the song because the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 193

.The winning pitcher of Game 1 was Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.

Babe Ruth

 

Next Week:  I Have Asked for a New Job

100 years ago this week: Joe saves a kid from drowning

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 which is based  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.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday August 25, 1918– Had talk with Chaplin this morning.  Baseball game in the afternoon. Game of tennis this evening.  Has been a very good day.

Monday August 26– “Blue Monday”.  A dark rainy day.  Everyone’s spirits about as bright as the day is.

Tuesday August 27– Joe is taken to the hospital today for two days treatment.

Wednesday August 28– Today while lying in bed in hospital Joe sees  a kid drowning in river.  He jumped through side of tent over to and into the river saving the kid from drowning.  We made a “ Croix de guerre” out of piece of old copper and presented it to him in a “mock” formation. At 9:00 P.M.

Thursday August 29- (No entry)

Friday August 30– Canadians have invited us to a picture show at their camp tonight to see some American pictures.  

Saturday August 31The allied armies are racing for the Rhine Each one driving at germans ahead of it.   


A Child is saved from drowning

On Tuesday August 27th Poppa noted that a soldier friend named Joe was taken to the hospital for two days of treatment.  He doesn’t say what he is bring treated for but many soldiers on both sides of the conflict have been sickened by the Spanish flu.  Possibly that is Joe’s situation.

The next day Poppa wrote in his journal that Joe saved a child from drowning in the river. “ He jumped through side of tent over to and into the river saving the kid from drowning.”

“We made a “ Croix de guerre” out of piece of old copper and presented it to him in a “mock” formation. At 9:00 P.M.”

“Croix de guerre” is a French medal of honor presented to soldiers who distinguish themselves in battle.  

The french medal of honor known as the Croix de Guerre

Here is an article about the event from the battalion newspaper.

Here is an article about the event from the battalion newspaper.

This article mentions that Joe was presented with the D.S.O.  The only military abbreviation  I could find for DSO is  “Distinguished  Service Order”  However, this is a British military honor awarded to British soldiers who distinguish themselves in battle so it may not be what is referred to in the article.

The article quotes ‘Messergent Bandage‘.  I believe they might be referring to another of Poppa’s soldier colleagues M.R. Brundage .

I don’t have a picture of Joe Neiswanger.  However, In the address section of his 1918 journal Poppa has this entry: Joe Neiswanger, Brookville PA.  The April 5th, 1950 edition of the Tyrone (PA) Daily Herald newspaper states that Joseph Neiswanger, of Brookville, was a ‘veteran leader’ and past commander of the American Legion post.

Here is a picture of a grave marker for a Joseph Neiswanger who died in Brookville, PA in 1962.  He was born the same year as Poppa.  Do you think it is the same person?

Next Week:  We should have much better eats now!

Sources:

Boquet, Michel, email July 16, 2018

“Croix De Guerre.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croix_de_Guerre. Accessed 24 Aug. 2018.

100 Years ago this week: Band Practice Every Monday and Friday

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”

A picture of Poppa’s co-worker and friend M.R. Brundage. From official Battalion records.

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.

General Enoch Crowder (1859-1932)

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.

Sources:

“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.

100 Years ago this week: I am getting very tired of my job

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.  

We need your help!

Michel Boquet is a retired French engineer who has provided a lot of information used in this blog.  He has acquired a picture of Poppa’s battalion and is trying to identify the soldiers pictured.

A picture of the 20th Engineers before they left America for France. Secretary of War Baker is bottom row second from right. The commanding officer Major Hartwick is next to Baker (third from right).

Mr. Boquet is suggesting that Poppa is at the far left of the bottom row.

Here is a comparison picture.

The picture on the left is known to be Poppa. Is he also pictured on the right?

What do you think?  Feel free to post a comment here or on the Facebook page.

Here are Poppa’s Journal entries for this week in 1918.


Sunday August 11, 1918– Twentieth defeated the Tenth today in baseball at city park  12 to 6. Not nearly so good a game as that played on February 22.

Monday August 12– Mac, Schroeder and I took a walk this evening and while in suburbs of Dax an old man called us in to drink some wine with him.  He was old and crippled and had not seen many Americans. He was very happy to have us and we felt the evening well spent.

Tuesday August 13– Good lecture tonight by some Y.M. C. A. man.

Wednesday August 14– Am working on maps everyday.  Getting very tired of my job as draftsman and would welcome a change.  Letter from Jamie today.

Thursday August 15– Moore gives supper tonight to (?) squad on his retiring from club.  Now four members is full membership of club.

Friday August 16– The Y.M.C.A. give a picture show each Friday night in the camp.  Sometimes in arena. Sometimes in arena.

Saturday August 17– Rather great day.  Went to casino in evening.  Inspection in the P.M.


Wednesday August 14-…  “Letter from Jamie today.”

Presumably Poppa is referring to his older brother Hugh Clancy Jamieson who was called Jamie.  we knew him as great uncle Clancy.  Clancy also served in the U.S. Army during WWI. It appears that he served in the states as the only address for Clancy  in Poppa’s 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 which was on the outskirts ofRockford Illinois until, 1946.

Brothers Hugh Clancy (upper left) and John Rodney Jamieson (upper right) pictured with some of their Jamieson cousins. Circa mid 1890s

Next week:  Band Practice Every Monday and Friday