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.

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