My Grandfather’s World War I Log Book – Part 25 – France – “From Dancing to Delousing”

My Grandfather’s World War I Log Book – Part 25 – France

April 11 – May 23, 1919

From Dancing with Louise to Delousing in Brest


My comments: My grandfather was with the U.S. Army 111th Engineers battalion. This excerpt from his Log Book takes place in the months after World War I ended.  He went to three parties given for the American troops, where he learned to dance and met delightful young ladies.  Then he rejoined his regiment and (after delousing) sailed from France aboard the U.S.S. Great Northern on May 23.  I added photos I found online that relate to my grandfather’s Log Book posts.

Excerpts from Log Book*:

April 11th, 1919: The Eng. & the 331st Inf. men gave a dance and it sure was a good one.  Met Louise Smith and went through the grand march with her, and afterwards she taught me how to dance.  She is with the YMCA here & as fine a little woman as I have ever met. She leaves here and goes to Germany in about a week.  Miss Graybeal is the only one left here now.”

April 15th: Received word that the regiment was leaving, so put in for transfer back to the company.”

April 25th: Was given party at Madame Pier’s and we all spent a pleasant evening.”

April 28th: Received orders to report to the company. Sure was glad to have met all these officers and men as they were a fine set.”

April 29th: Reached the company and say, was sure glad to see them all once more.”

May 5th: Was given a party by Madame Richardot and she has four grown up daughters, so you can see we did not have one dull moment. The girls speak English quite well & Madame played piano for us.”

May 15th: Left here and arrived at Forwarding Camp #1 just 6 kilos from Le Mans on the 14th at 3 A.M.”

May 17thHad our final inspection today.  Went to Le Mans in afternoon; did not like the town very much.”

Street in Le Mans, France, photo from 1905

May 19th: Entrained here today for Brest.”

May 20th: Arrived here [in Brest] again after 10 months absence and the town sure has changed some.  It’s a city of duck-boards and billets instead of mud and pup-tents. Was deloused, examined, inspected and equipped the next 3 days.”

World War I

American troops being deloused in Brest, France before returning to the U.S.A. in 1919 (photo from U.S. Army Signal Corps, Library of Congress)

[Some British humor about lice: “Numerous stories and jokes about trench-lice circulated amongst the men at the front. The soldier poet, Robert Graves, remembered one session [of lice picking in the trenches] when a Private Bumford came up to him and asked: ‘We were just having an argument as to whether its best to kill the old ones or the young ones, Sir.
Morgan here says that if you kill the old ones, the young ones die of grief; but Parry here, Sir, says that the young ones are easier to kill and you can catch the old ones when they go to the funeral…You’ve been to college, Sir, haven’t you?’ “]

May 23rd: Hiked to port and everybody sure made this one. Embarked on U.S.S. Great Northern and sailed at 6 P.M.”

World War I, ship

U.S.S. Great Northern, the ship my grandfather took from France back to the U.S.A. in May 1919. Note: The ship’s name was changed by the time of this 1922 photo to the U.S.S. Columbia (photo from Naval Historical Foundation)

My Grandfather’s ship billet on the U.S.S. Great Northern from France to U.S.A. (from personal collection)

Next post will be — “Arrived in God’s Country again at Hoboken, NJ.”

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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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