100 Years ago This Week: The River is Very High

Background:  In September of 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.  Poppa has just celebrated his 27th birthday.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday May 5, 1918– Hdq Det baseball team played the first B/n officers at Co A today.  We won by score of 8 to 4 and I sure had a good time.

Monday May 6No fun when you are broke.  Some nice mail today.

Tuesday May 7– The Canadian Y.M.C.A. gave a free entertainment at the casino tonight. Very Good .  Singing and dancing and minstrel jokes was given by a troop of negro soldiers.

Wednesday May 8– Weather has cleared after several days of rain.  Glad to see the sun for a change.

Thursday May 9– French holiday.  We moved today to new tents outside of the arena as the officers are to take our old ones.  Our new tents are built very comfortable.

Friday- May 10– Had nice trip, about 45 km to Arengosse where I made survey of R.R. yard and property.  River (Adour) is very high may get up to 5 M during night.

Saturday May 11– River reached 4.90 M during night and then continued lowering during day.  Made the Arengosse map today.

 


African Americans in WWI

Tuesday May 7– The Canadian Y.M.C.A. gave a free entertainment at the casino tonight. Very Good .  Singing and dancing and minstrel jokes was given by a troop of negro soldiers.

For the first few years of WWI manyAmericans, including African Americans did not think that America should get involved in the war.  However, as time passed and America seemed about to enter the war many African Americans saw the war as an opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism and their place as equal citizens in the nation.  Black political leaders believed that if the race sacrificed for the war effort, the government would reward them with greater civil rights.  About  370,000 black men were inducted into the army.

Some of the Harlem Hellfighters.

Over 200,000 served in France. The majority worked in service units. They dug ditches, cleaned latrines, transported supplies, cleared debris, and buried rotting corpses. The largest number of African-American SOS troops served as stevedores, working on the docks of Brest, St. Nazaire, Bordeaux, and other French port cities to load and unload crucial supplies.  It was hard work, made worse by racial discrimination, but nevertheless essential to the success of the war effort.

The two black combat divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, made up of approximately 40,000 troops, did see battle. Unsure how to use black national guardsmen, the American army “loaned” the 93rd Division to the French army. It was the only American division to serve exclusively under French command. The division’s four regiments performed bravely and received numerous commendations.

The 93rd Division’s 369th Infantry Regiment from New York became the most famous fighting unit of African-American troops. Nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters,” the regiment was first known for it’s band.  The 369th received equal acclaim for its combat performance. Two soldiers of the 369th, Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, were the first American soldiers to receive the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross). The regiment gave up no ground to German forces. They were the first American regiment to reach the Rhine River in Germany following the armistice and returned to the United States national heroes.

Arengosse

Friday- May 10– Had nice trip, about 45 km to Arengosse where I made survey of R.R. yard and property.

Camp Arengosse circa 1918

The River Adour

Saturday May 11 River reached 4.90 M during night and then continued lowering during day.

The River Adour starts in the  Pyrénées mountains and flows into the Atlantic ocean.  It is about 220 miles long.

A modern view of the River Adour

Next Week: Spending Mother’s Day in France

Sources:

African Americans and World War I. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2018.

“Adour.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 May 2018. Web. 01 May 2018.

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