100 Years ago This Week: Leaving Langres

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?

Modern View of Langres France

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.

Poppa’s journal entry for January 11, 1919. Where do you think he “stayed until 3 AM”?

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.

Loading rations on a train in Dijon, France during WWI

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.

President T. Roosevelt

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.

“Theodore Roosevelt.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt. Accessed 5 Jan. 2019.


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