Background: WWI has been over for almost a year. After spending nearly 18 months in France with the 20th Engineers my grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, came home safe and sound in May of 1919 on his 28th birthday. After that day he made no further entries in his journal.
A short time before leaving France Poppa purchased an engagement ring. After the purchase he wrote the following in his journal: Hope it pleases you Marion and that when you accept it you will never have cause to regret it. I shall do my best.
Apparently Marion agreed to his marriage proposal and they were married 100 Years ago this week.
The wedding occurred in the home of the bride’s parents on a Wednesday evening. Although today many weddings in America take place on a Saturday, this hasn’t always been the case. According to Country Living Magazine a century ago traditional weddings were on weekdays. “There was a rhyme that helped brides pick a date. Mondays were for wealth and Tuesdays for health. “Wednesday the best day of all, Thursdays for crosses, Fridays for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all.” The 1903 White House Etiquette guide reminded young, society women of the rhyme and also noted that in addition to bringing terrible luck, Saturday weddings were terribly unfashionable.”
Background: WWI has been over for 5 months and the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force are coming home from France. My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, has spent the past 10 days at Camp Upton in Long Island New York. He has just received his orders to head home. Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday April 27, 1919– Very busy doing nothing today. Ate dinner at Hostess House, wrote some letters and read Sunday papers. Moved yesterday, again today just to keep in practice and to let us know we are still in the army.
Monday April 28 – All southern detachments went today. Marshall, Shorty, Dink, Hill Dorns, et al went with them. These are very long days waiting around for time to go by as bad as Bordeaux. Received several letters written at Thanksgiving time today.
Tuesday April 29– Scared stiff, this A.M. had headache, bad cold and did not feel good. Afraid I was coming down with the mumps as so many cases have developed in the outfit. Feel much better this P.M. and sure I haven’t them. Took exam this P.M. to leave at 6:00 A.M. tomorrow must get up before three in the morning.
Wednesday April 30 – Did not have to get up so early as we leave at 6 P.M instead of A.M. as previously reported. Have taken lunch nearly every day at the Y.W.C.A. while here. 8:30 – Left Camp Upton on big train bound for various camps.
Thursday May 1– Speeding westward at last long. Left New York at Midnight are in Penn line. Three cars for Camp Grant.
Friday May 2 – Arrived in Chicago at 6:30 this A.M. Red Cross gave us breakfast. Put on Camp Grant train about 8:30. Arrived in Camp Grant about 12:30 without dinner. We were given examinations, lectures, kept busy every minute until night. Expect to get us out tomorrow.
Saturday May 3 -8:00 P.M. Onboard Train en route home. Rain all day but nevertheless luck was with me being second in list to be discharged at 2:30 P.M. Just caught car to Rockford, made electric to Janesville, and will now soon be home. This ends my diary of twenty months of my life as a soldier. Tomorrow just 28 yrs. Tomorrow just 28 years after I started this life I will start again as a civilian in God’s own country. The End
The last leg of the journey home!
At the start of the week Poppa is stationed at Camp Upton in New York but has just been notified to expect to start for home on Wednesday. After three days aboard various trains he arrived at Camp Grant in Rockford Illinois.
The next day John Rodney Jamieson was discharged from the army, boarded another train for home and, on the day before his 28th birthday, resumed his life as a civilian.
Background: My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, had been stationed in France during WWI with the 20th Engineers. They have just sailed back to America aboard the USS Roanoke and are now stationed at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York awaiting discharge from the army. Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday April 20, 1919 – Spent Easter Sunday very quietly. Reading, writing letters, visiting pie and ice cream parlors, etc. Saw Jane Cowl in “The Crowded Hour” at Liberty Theater tonight. Have a good camp. Better than any place I have been in yet but am anxious to get away. Big detail from companies today for Easter. A fine way to treat A.E.F. troops of 17 months service.
Monday April 21– Going to New York this evening. Marshall, Shorty and myself on 24 hour pass. Later:- Arrived at Penn Station about 7:30. Went to Knickerbocker theatre seeing “Listen Lester”. Awfully good show. Afterward saw Broadway at midnight with great white way. Stayed at York Hotel for the night.
Tuesday April 22– By means of Salvation Army sight seeing bus which we accidentally stumbled onto saw Wall Street, Stock exchange, Millionaire Row, Fifth Avenue and many interesting and important centers of New York. Got back to camp about eight o’clock.
Wednesday April 23 – Very warm day. Just “hung around” barracks today reading, writing and resting. Went to vaudeville show at Liberty Theater. Wish some mail would come for me. Bought a liberty bond from Joe.
Thursday April 24 – N.Y boys were transferred today to Camp Upton to be discharged soon. Three letters received today. Two from Marion, one from home. Awfully glad to get all of them, long time since I have heard from them. Went to “The Kiss Burglar” but were so far in theatre that we couldn’t hear so left.
Friday April 25 – Four detachments, ones from Camps Bliss, Meade Taylor and Pike are to leave tomorrow. Gosney Stratton and Christensen go with them. Smull was mustered out this a.m.
Saturday April 26 – The four detachments left today. Also ones for Camp Dix and Devans (?). Most of others including Grant received orders today to leave next Wednesday. Went to show tonight but was pas-bon.
Poppa and other soldiers are temporarily stationed at Fort Upton in Long Island, New York. They have little work to do as they wait to be discharged from the army. Poppa took in some culture as he toured New York City and saw three Broadway plays.
“The Crowded Hour”, with Jane Cowl was on Broadway for 139 performances before closing in March of 1919. Apparently the play was then performed for soldiers at the Liberty Theatre which was on the grounds of Camp Upton . Jane Cowl (1883-1950) starred in over 30 plays between 1904 and 1947. She also wrote some plays and appeared in 6 films.
The next day Poppa and two of his friends got passes to leave the camp and went to New York City for 24 hours. While there they enjoyed the musical “Listen Lester” at the Knickerbocker Theater on Broadway.
By Thursday Poppa had returned from their busy sight seeing tour of New York City and that night attended the musical “The Kiss Burglar” at the Liberty Theatre. This play had recently completed a run of 100 performances on Broadway. Poppa was disappointed because they sat so far back in the Liberty Theatre that could not hear well.
During the week Camp Upton was the site of much activity. Soldiers from New York were arriving at Camp Upton to be discharged while detachments from other states were leaving for their home bases to be “mustered out”.
As the week ends soldiers from the midwest have just received orders to prepare for the next leg of their journey home. They expect to leave for Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois the following Wednesday.
Next Week: Tomorrow, on my 28th birthday, I will start life again as a civilian in God’s own country!
Background: WWI is over and the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force are being sent home from France. My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers and in November, 1917 he sailed to France aboard a troop transport ship. He was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France. He is anxiously awaiting his orders to head home. Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday February 16, 1919– Wrote a few letters, cleaned up and am going out to Cafe St. Pierre for supper. We are all getting fine treatment at that place now. Tough piece of luck this P.M. when I broke my pipe. Can get it repaired soon in U.S.A.
Monday February 17 – Old Co E of 2nd Bn now fifth company arrived today. They have been up quite close to the front all the time since they left us at ST. Nazaire. The band started practicing today. Our schedule is for every afternoon 1:30 to 4:30. I drive the bunch out from headquarters in my Dodge to 2nd CO Y.M.C.A.
Tuesday February 18 – Driving all A.M. Band practice all P.M. and show practice in the evening. What a glorious life.
Wednesday February 19– Had a nice ride to Arengosse this A.M. The band practices playing and marching this P.M. I am a sick woman tonight don’t know what is the trouble. Haven’t had a drink and feel as drunk or seasick as I had a good one.
Thursday February 20– (No entry)
Friday February 21– Feel much better today still not good enough to go to band practice this P.M. Full rehearsal of show at casino tonight. I’ll be there to pound the bass drum. Relieved from further work today. Left out the 20th
Saturday February 22– Drove Dodge on various trips to Cos most of the day. Trucks are moving 1st co from Pontex back to their old camp. Officers dance at the casino is the principal event of the day. Jazz orchestra played for the dance. Much champaign put the orchestra in best of form. The dance a great success and orchestra wonderful (!)
Units of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) continue to be moved around France in preparation for being sent home. The soldiers of the fifth company had traveled to France on the same ship as Poppa but were stationed closer to the front. On February 16th Poppa wrote that the Fifth CO. has now rejoined him in Dax.
Poppa was sick for several days during the week of February 16, 1919. He doesn’t report the cause of his illness. However, in early 1919 the world was still experiencing what is thought to be the second biggest epidemic in world history: the Spanish flu outbreak. In the month of October, 1918 alone 195,000 Americans died from the disease. Because of improvements in transportation and because of the mobility of soldiers the flu spread rapidly around the world. Some experts say that more America soldiers were lost during WWI to the flu than to the fighting.
In previous journal entries Poppa wrote that some of his colleagues were hospitalized because of the flu but it doesn’t appear that Poppa’s illness was severe enough to require hospitalization.
Michel Boquet is a retired French engineer who is an expert on the history of forestry in France in WWI. He has acquired the journal of a US army physician who was treating soldiers in the area of Poppa’ camp. Michel noticed the following entry: “Saw Pvt (possibly Lt) Jamison from St avit for acute appendicitis”.
However, this entry was labelled January 19, 1919, almost a month before Poppa’s illness.
On February 22nd Poppa wrote that “Officers dance at the casino is the principal event of the day. Jazz orchestra played for the dance. Much champaign put the orchestra in best of form. The dance a great success and orchestra wonderful (!)”
Poppa did not write whether his band was part of the entertainment but his enthusiastic description suggests that they might have been. The same physician who treated private Jamison for appendicitis attended the officers’ dance and made this journal entry:
“Washington’s birthday. We engaged Casino and gave a party. Band music and invited all our friends. Enormous success. Nobody wanted to go home. Dancing and songs.”
Background: World War I has been over for more 3 months. It has been 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 1917 and was eventually assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A 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 February 9, 1919– Busy nearly all day with hauling water, meat, etc. Took coffee to 200 yankee division men passing through on the train this evening. Some nice mail today.
Monday February 10– (No Entry)
Tuesday February 11– Tom left for Paris today to work for the peace commission. Sorry to see him go but glad he has the opportunity to get on the work as it will be very interesting no doubt. Basketball team played in Bordeaux today but were defeated 82 to 10.
Wednesday February 12– (No entry)
Thursday February 13– The other half of H (?) Co. which has been detached since we arrived in France came today. They had a tough trip (?) and all seemed mighty glad to get here. Letter from Lieut. Johnson today tells me the engrs school are going home very soon…. And I thought I was lucky.
Friday February 14– Telegram came today saying Hdq. 1st Bn-1st,2nd,3rd and 5th companies will be relieved from duty soon after March 1st. Everyone is smiling again today after a month of continuous grouch. Made another trip to St. Avit today weather is fine past few days.
Saturday February 15– Not working very hard today. Some of our captains just want to go home. All are sore over bill introduced into congress to prohibit service stripes. Some of our politicians got jobs in Washington to get out of coming over and taking their chance and now are afraid the service stripes will reflect on them.
Soldiers all over France were anxious to return home now that the war has ended. Poppa and his friends are optimistic as they were informed on February 14th that they would be “relieved of duty soon after March 1st”. But that is still at least 2 weeks away. Activities are planned wherever possible to keep up the soldiers’ morale. According to bulletins of the US Army each division can put up sports teams to compete with championships to be held in Paris. After being defeated 82 to 10 I’m guessing that Poppa’s basketball team did not make it to the championship tournament.
Tuesday February 11– “Tom left for Paris today to work for the peace commission. Sorry to see him go but glad he has the opportunity to get on the work as it will be very interesting no doubt.”
The Peace Commission in Paris, which became know as the Versailles Peace Conference, was a series of meetings of the leaders of the victorious Allied Powers to set the terms for the defeated countries (known as the Central Powers). The President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, had already sailed to France to participate. The major accomplishments of the Peace Conference was the formation of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles which would finally signed by the Germans on May 7, 1919.
Poppa has mentioned Tom in several of his journal entries since arriving in France. According to his address book he is likely referring to Thomas V. Coleman of Dallas, Texas. It appears that Poppa and Tom were friends and tent mates. He doesn’t mention what Tom’s job will be in Paris but being associated with the Paris Peace conference is likely to be an interesting assignment.
Saturday February 15– “Some of our captains just want to go home. All are sore over bill introduced into congress to prohibit service stripes. Some of our politicians got jobs in Washington to get out of coming over and taking their chance and now are afraid the service stripes will reflect on them.”
According to Wikipedia a service stripe, or hash mark, is a diagonal stripe worn on the sleeve(s) of uniforms. Service stripes are authorized for wear by enlisted members on the left sleeve of a uniform to denote length of service. Service stripes vary size and in color.
However, the 1919 army appropriations bill included this statement:
“That it shall be unlawful for the Secretary of War to provide by regulation or otherwise for any distinctive stripe or chevron of any kind indicating service overseas or in the United States to be worn upon the uniform of any officer or enlisted man in the service of the United States and any regulation heretofore made on this subject is hereby invalidated”.
I don’t know the actual reason this law have been passed. Poppa and his colleagues apparently felt that congressmen were covering for their own cowardice exhibited by their action of ‘hiding’ in government jobs in Washington instead of enlisting in the army.
Soldiers were not the only ones enraged by this action. In reaction to that action by the U.S. congress the legislature of Massachusetts passed the following order in 1919;
Be it ordered that the Massachusetts House of Representatives unreservedly reaffirms its belief that recognition of distinguished service in the military naval or aerial service of our country is due to those who made it possible by their efforts and sacrifices that democracy by representative government might still prevail and deplores any attempt to take away from our soldiers sailors or aviators any mark or marks conferred for distinguished service previously granted … and be it further ordered that copies of this order be transmitted by the Secretary of the Commonwealth to the Senators and Representatives from Massachusetts in the Congress of the United States.”
Background: WWI has been over for almost 3 months. United States officials are mustering all available resources to bring its army home from France. But it’s taking a while. Poppa, who is back with his unit in Dax, France, is anxiously awaiting his turn while trying to keep busy at company headquarters in Dax France. Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday February 2, 1919– Pay day today. Tom returns greatly enthused about the Pyrenees. He had a weekend at Lourdes and now wants to put in for a leave in that area. I prefer it to most any other place as there is snow, cold weather and not much travel in this leave area.
Monday February 3– Have a new position as captain of sports here at hdq. Am trying to organize a basketball team to play at Bordeaux in the A.E.F meet.
Tuesday February 4– Played Co “C” in basketball today. Just a practice game trying to pick out a team for the meet. Today’s paper says Gen. Pershing has permission to fill vacancies. This may mean we get commissions. For me I prefer to go home. Mail came today bringing one letter from Marion. This relieved my unnecessary worries.
Wednesday February 5– Rain all day. Am to have a new job soon. Much better than keeping mileage reports.
Thursday February 6– Started my new job today as driver for supply house Dodge light delivery. Think I have the best job in the detachment. It is a new car, runs nice and will probably keep me busy nearly all the time.
Friday February 7– Went to St. Avit after supplies. Shorty and Johnny went along. We had dinner in Tartas(?) with other stops at Mont De Marseu (?) and Pointex so enjoyed the trip very much before we arrived home.
Saturday February 8– Drove another 100 miles today up and back to St. Avit. The river is again very high. Higher than ever since we have been here. The Gauge reading tonight is 5 M 10 CM. They tell us the top is here (?). Hope so as it is now above the ground of our camp but the good dyke of dirt holds well.
For a soldier who wants to get discharged from the army and return home Poppa seems to be enjoying himself. He claims that his job is ‘light delivery’ . It seems more like an excuse to drive all over southern France in a Dodge Car seeing the sights. Apparently his mood was also lifted by a letter he received from his love, Marion Clarkson Brown.
HIs friend Tom also had a nice weekend in Lourdes which is about 75 miles southeast of their camp. Today Lourdes is second only to Paris as a popular tourist attraction in France.
The Pyrenees Mountains are on the border between France and Spain. When Poppa first arrived in Dax in 1917 he commented that he could see the mountains from his camp on a nice day.
Tuesday February 4– “Today’s paper says Gen. Pershing has permission to fill vacancies. This may mean we get commissions. For me I prefer to go home.”
Poppa left Engineers Training School before competing all of the classes. At the time it was thought that his unit would be heading home before the classes ended and he preferred to go with them. As a result he still does not know if he will receive his commission as an officer.
Friday February 7th
The towns Poppa visited on February 7th- St. Avit, Tartas, Mont De Marsan and Pointenx are all within 100 miles of Dax.
In 1919 Tartas had a population of about 2,800 residents.
Meanwhile, Back Home
According to an article in the February 7th, 1919 edition of the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) The Wisconsin Curling association “honored one of their members in France when they elected Rodney Jamieson, of Poynette, president of their association”.
Were they really “honoring” him? Or was it one of those situations where the committee member who doesn’t show up to the meeting gets stuck with the job?
Next Week: Some of our captains just want to go home!
Background: WWI has been over for more than 2 months. 15 months previously, In 1917 my grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers. After training in Washington D.C. he sailed to France aboard a troop transport ship. He was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A 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 January 26, 1919– Nothing much of interest today. Went to Matinee at casino in P.M. then to supper at Cafe St. Pierre. Very good feed and a pleasant but ———— that ————-.
Monday January 27– Have a new job now. Tom calls me Gasso the detective. All I must do is keep daily report of all motor equipment as to mileage, tonnage and consumption.
Tuesday January 28 – No entry
Wednesday January 29– My job takes me about one hour per day except Fridays and Saturdays when report must be made out. Dr. Dean spoke at the Y. tonight telling of his experiences during six months at the front, most of the time with the first division.
Thursday January 30– We expect to give another show. All are anxious to get up something that will be interesting and will take up our time so it will not drag for the next month at least. Think we will have something good this time as every one is interested and seem to be willing to help.
Friday January 31– Had another entertainment at the Y. last night. It came unannounced but was very good. Three French women and an American man. Woman violinist was exceptional.
Saturday February 1– Went to Bayonne today with Lieut. Cunu (?), Shorty, Casey and his Dodge. Only had an hour in the town but enjoyed it very much. Hope I can go again sometime when I can stay longer. Tom went with another car to Lordes so I am all alone tonight.
On January 13, 1919 Poppa returned to his unit at Dax, France after leaving Engineers Training school. Upon arrival he returned to his old job and was drawing maps, etc. However, this week he got a new job keeping track of motorized equipment. His friend now calls him ‘Gasso the Detective’. Does this name refer to a character of the time or does it refer to the gas required to use the engines?
During his first year stationed at Dax Poppa often went to dinner in town at the Cheval Blanc (White Horse) restaurant. However, on January 26th he said they had supper at Cafe St. Pierre which he had not previously mentioned. There is a currently a ‘Cafe St. Pierre’ in an area known as St. Pierre in Dax. II don’t now if it is the same restaurant that existed in 1919. It’s likely in the same vicinity at least as it appears to be named after the area of Dax where it is located.
On January 30th Poppa wrote about plans to do ‘another show’. in early march of the previous year soldiers in his unit had planned and put on a show. He said at that time that the performers “had a good time if nobody else did”.
On February 1st Poppa and some colleagues went to Bayonne which is a city in France about 45 miles southwest of Dax where Poppa was stationed. Bayonne is a port city known for exporting its high-quality salt, hams, and chocolate. In 1919 Bayonne had a population of about 28,000. It is on the Adour river downriver from Dax.
Poppa wrote that they drove to Bayonne in a Dodge vehicle. During WWI The army used modified cars for ambulances. There were also a variety of armored cars used by the soldiers. However, it seems more likely that they drove in a Dodge passenger car.
Next Week: Mail from Marion relieved my unnecessary worries.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Bayonne.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Sept. 2017, www.britannica.com/place/Bayonne-France. Accessed 25 Jan. 2019.
Background: WWI has been over for 2 months. It has been 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 was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France. On November 7, 1918 he traveled to Langres France and enrolled in Army Candidate School (A.C.S.). Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday January 12, 1919– Arrived in Lyon at 8:00 AM but R.T.O. & M.P. would not allow us to stay over one day. Left for Bordeaux at 11:00 AM. Train’s crowded, no sleep last night. Pretty scenery around Lyons as train travels along Rhone River. Record- Oct 10 letter reached me as I left engrs camp yesterday. Note -we’re much surprised to get our certificates yesterday as we left school three weeks before close. Could not go to Paris as it is closed to A.E.F. at present. Couldn’t make my purchase I had planned so much on making in either Paris or Lyon
Monday January 13– Rode all night on crowded train but had seat. Arrived in Dax at 10:30. Heard that order just came to the effect (?) that 20th will stay over about three months on road repair work. Everyone disappointed. I am glad to get back to the old bunch.
Tuesday January 14– Tom and I are living in a little tent by ourselves. He arrived about a week in advance of me. I didn’t know I had so many French friends until I got back here.
Wednesday January 15– This is the day we were supposed to start for home. I am glad to be here however and the time will be spent in a good camp at least.
January 16 17-18, 19– Heard the Hanger was reported missing. Doing nothing but resting, writing, and reading. Five officers in the Hospital —— (9).
On Saturday January 11th, while in engineers training school near Langres, France, Poppa was ordered to re-join his unit in Dax. By the end of the day he had left the training school in Langes and traveled to Dijon. From there he took a train to Lyon, France.
Lyon was formed in ancient times at the spot where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet. Lyon is the country’s third largest city and currently has a population of about half a million.
From his journal entry it appears that Poppa wanted to see the sights of Lyon “but R.T.O. & M.P. would not allow us to stay over one day.” R.T.O. may refer refer to railway transport officer? M.P. could stand for ‘Military Police’? From Lyon trains took him to Bordeaux and then back to his unit based in Dax.
Poppa said that he could not make the purchase that he planned. He couldn’t make the ‘purchase’ in Paris as he had hoped because that city was closed to Members of the American Expeditionary Forces (U.S. Soldiers). Apparently, for at least a time after the end of the war soldiers were not allowed to go to Paris on leave.
He has not yet specified what he plans to purchase but I believe that he wants to buy an engagement ring for Marion Clarkson Brown.
In previous journal entries he had mentioned a fellow soldier named Hanger. What does Poppa mean when he says that “Hanger was reported missing”?
Meanwhile, back in America
On January 16th, 1919 the 36th and final state approved prohibition making it possible to ratify the 18th amendment to the constitution. That meant that prohibition would go into effect in one year (January 17th, 1920). Local governments could choose to implement prohibition earlier. Poppa had been in training camp in Washington D.C. on November 1st, 1917 when prohibition was implemented there.
Next week: Back to Work
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Lyon.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 July 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Lyon-France. Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.
Background: WWI has been over for almost 2 months. It has been 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 was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France. On November 7, 1918 he traveled to Langres France and enrolled in Army Engineers Candidate School (A.C.S.). Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday January 5, 1919– (No entry)
Monday January 6– (No entry)
Tuesday January 7– Having much doughboy this week. Today it is rumored that 1bn 20th men are going back to their COs who are leaving for the U.S.A.
Wednesday January 8– Today at 3 P.M. the battalion was paraded in honor of ex-pres Roosevelt whose funeral is today.
Thursday January 9–(No entry)
Friday January 10–(No entry)
Saturday January 11– Called out of first formation this A.M. Told to pack up and leave in one hour for Langres. Left L- at 4:00 P.M. Stayed in Dijon (?) until 3 A.M.
Note: Poppa made entries in his diary for almost every day since he enlisted in 1917. He was very consistent. However, during the week of January 5, 1918 he did not write anything for 4 of the seven days. It was the fewest entries of any week to this point. Is it possible that his dislike for his current situation took away his motivation to write in his journal?
Poppa had been in training at the Army’s Engineers school near Langres, France for several weeks. Almost since arriving there were rumors that the training school was closing. Some of the other soldiers in training had already left to return to their units and then, presumably, were to be sent home. This week Poppa’s turn finally arrived. On the morning of Saturday, January 11th he was told to prepare to leave in order to return to his unit in Dax, France. By 4 p.m. he was leaving and he “Stayed in Dijon (?) until 3 A.M.”
It’s sometimes difficult to decipher Poppa’s writing. Here is his a picture of his entry for January 11.
At first I thought he wrote that he stayed in “wagon” until 3 a.m. However, after studying the map I realized that there is a community of Dijon, France about 50 miles south of Langres. Dijon, the birthplace of dijon mustard, was used as a headquarters by the American forces during WWI and was a hub for railway transportation . I think that it’s possible he stayed in “Dijon” until 3 am when he presumably caught another train to continue on his trip.
Four days before he left the training school in Langres, on Wednesday January 8, Poppa wrote- “at 3 P.M. the battalion was paraded in honor of ex-pres Roosevelt whose funeral is today.”
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt died on January 6th, 1919. He had served as president of the United States from 1901-1909.
Next Week: I didn’t know I had so many French friends!
AEF IN DIJON.” The American Expeditionary Force in and around Dijon, 8 Apr. 2017, aefdijon.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/first-blog-post/. Accessed 5 Jan. 2019.
Background: It is the end of 1918 and WWI has been over for almost 2 months. It has been 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 was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France. On November 7, 1918 he traveled to Langres France and enrolled in Engineers Candidate School . Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.
From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson
Sunday December 29, 1918– Another rainy day. Spent the day reading, writing and cleaning up. A Co. making hot cakes on their stove this P.M. A year ago tonight was a big party “somewhere in Dax”
Monday December 30– This bridging is a s—— o—– g——. The 1st BN is going out today, lucky fellows. Several of the 3rd Bn go out Wed. Eleven from BN makes fully 20 we have lost since class began.
Tuesday December 31– Spent New Years eve very quietly. Went to movies at Fort and then to bed. Some of the wilder ones came in at 12 and awakened all with rifle and revolver shots.
Wednesday January 1, 1919– Went to Langres today spent day just “looking round” the city. Came back to camp this P.M.
Thursday January 2– At the D—— water potgram (?). Moved in to another barracks. Could anything be much worse.
Friday January 3– (no entry)
Saturday January 4– Finished bridging this A.M. In the P.M. a fellow was decorated with the D.S.C. at a formal service
Is the end near for Engineers Training School?
Although Poppa is training to be an officer at the Engineers Training School he is more interested in leaving France and the army and returning home. Rumors say that the school will be closing soon. He has written in the last few weeks that small groups and individual soldiers are returning to their units to be sent home. He appears hopeful when he writes of others leaving but depressed that, so far, he has not been chosen to go.
On December 30, 1918 Poppa wrote, referring to one of the classes he was taking in training, that “This bridging is a s—— o—– g——. ” Does s–o-g refer to “son of a gun” which does not seem to be very strong language for a soldier? Or does it reference something stronger?
On New Years Eve, 1918 Poppa went to the movies. He did not mention what movie he saw. The top grossing movie of 1918 was the silent film “Mickey” which cost $250,000 to produce, was released in August, and eventually grossed $8,000,000.
January 4, 1919– The distinguished service cross is a military award established in January of 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson. The DSC is presented to an individual in the army who, at great risk to themselves, performs an act of heroism against the enemy. There were 6,185 recipients during the World War I era.
The DSC is still awarded over one hundred years after being established so when Poppa observed a “fellow decorated” with it in December of 1918 the award had existed for less than a year.