My Grandfather’s World War I Log Book – Part 23 – France
December 1, 1918 to January 31, 1919
“Received Xmas box from mother and it was worth a million.”
My comments: My grandfather was with the U.S. Army 111th Engineers battalion. In this excerpt from his Log Book, after World War I ended he and the Engineers worked in a quarry for the months of December 1918 and January 1919. French towns and roads were in ruins, so the quarry work was essential to the rebuilding of France.
His highlight of the two months was Christmas dinner, when they were able to feast on “everything from soup to nuts.” I am adding photos to accompany the text from his Log Book.
Excerpts from Log Book*:
“December 1st, 1918: Worked at quarry in morning, off at noon.”
“December 2nd: Worked at quarry.”
Crushed rock (probably from a quarry) for road repair in France, 1918 or 1919 (photo from the National Archives video linked to below)
“December 4th: Was reduced to line Sergeant today. Sgt. Worrell takes my place as Sgt. 1st Class.”
“December 15th: From the 5th to 15th, worked at quarry. Was transferred to the 3rd platoon.”
“December 24th: From the 16th to 24th, worked at quarry.”
“December 25th: Xmas. Received Xmas box from mother and it was worth a million. The people of Tulsa, Oklahoma sent us $300 as a gift and did we have some Xmas dinner! I should say we did everything from soup to nuts. The regiment made the Chaplain a present of 2,200 francs. Co. D contributed 830 of it. The check was sent to his wife. Chaplain Broadus sure is a grand man & did quite a bit for the boys at all times.”
“December 31st: From the 26th to 31st, worked at quarry.”
“January 1st, 1919: Sure celebrated the day with some party & a big feed at La Chapelle.”
Present day photo of the town of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, population about 100 (photo from town website)
“January 7th: Worked at quarry to 7th.”
This video from the National Archives shows American Army Engineers rebuilding roads in France during the years 1918-1919. They brought in truck-loads and train-loads of crushed rock, most likely from a quarry such as the one where my grandfather worked for two months. It also shows them tearing down the remains of ruined stone houses in French villages in order to use the stones for road repair.
“January 18th: Received letter from Ray saying he put in for my transfer to 3rd Corps school at Clamecy. Sure would be glad of the change. Ray paid us a visit here on the 12th and it sure was good to see him again. He is a 1st Lieut. now.”
“January 31st: Worked at quarry to 31st.”
This 1919 photo of Amiens shows a little of the devastation that France had to rebuild from after the war. In the rear of the photo above is the ruined Amiens Cathedral, originally built between 1220 and 1270. (photo from Library of Congress)
The photo below shows the Amiens Cathedral now (photo by Vincent de Morteau)
Next post will be — A day in Paris, from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.
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*Quotes are from my grandfather Sergeant 1st Class Lou Sheckard’s World War I handwritten Log Book. He describes his experience with the U.S. Army 111th Engineers from March 1, 1917 to June 15, 1919. To learn how I discovered this 100-year-old family treasure, click here.
Peter Finkle bio: Husband, Father, Writer | Herbal Health Researcher | Co-Founder: Vets Vites dietary supplements
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