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

 

 

 

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