100 Years Ago This week: Working on the Roads and Missing Reveille

Background:  In September 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 Jan 20, 1918– Finished map & trading today. Spent evening at White Horse getting filled up.

Monday Jan 21– Started work at repairing road today.  Have started taking French lessons.

Tuesday Jan 22Two young French men who are anxious to learn English have offered to teach me French.

Wednesday Jan 23– Building road with gravel hauled by yoke of oxen.  Must be in 1718 instead of 1918.

Thursday Jan 24– Missed reveille this morning.  Hence, with John and Tom are prisoner for two nights.

Friday Jan 25– What is the matter with the mail.  Nearly 3 weeks now.

Saturday Jan 26– Still on road work.  Very good job in this ideal weather.  Half day off.  Took some pictures of the ?

Poppa wrote that he was working on building a gravel road using oxen.  In WWI many types of animals were put to work by the army including horses, dogs and homing pigeons.

Oxen pulling artillery in WWI

January 24– Missed reveille

Cover page of song written by Irving Berlin in 1918

Reveille (French for ‘wake up) is a bugle call which, in the military, is traditionally played near sunrise.   I don’t know what Poppa meant when he said that, along with John and Tom,  he would be  a ‘prisoner’ for 2 nights because they missed reveille.  Was the punishment for oversleeping being confined to barracks in the evening?  Or something worse?  Also, is it just a coincidence that years later he named his 2 sons John and Tom?

John and Tom Jamieson with their grandmother Eliza Duff Jamieson (Poppa’s mother). About 1928

Next Week: Thirty Cents for a Bath!



Animals and World War I. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2018.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *