Friday, December 14, 1917
Grand Hotel, Paris, France
Got up at 9 a.m. Went to see if my kodak pictures were finished. They were not. Tried to find the Spad factory until late in afternoon. Did not find it. Every place I was told it was turned out to be the wrong place. Will try again some other day. I have been bitterly disappointed so many times at the Embassy that I dreaded to go there and ask for mail.
Late in the afternoon, however, I got up my courage and went there expecting the same luck. I almost hugged the man from pure joy when he handed me a letter from my sweet little wife. It was mailed from Washington on Nov. 26, only 18 days ago! And it was marked "no. 7" showing that my sweet little girl had written me 6 letters before that. I would give anything to know where those letters are. Some may be at the bottom of the ocean. That is all the proof needed of the inefficiency of our mail service In this precious letter she writes as if she had not received any letters from me. I must have written at least 20 or 25. If it makes her as miserable not to hear from me as it has me not hearing from her, I certainly sympathize with the sweet little thing. No one will ever know what supreme joy this first letter gave me. Just to know she is well and safe and loves me was worth a million dollars to me. I really feel like a new man. I was so happy I did not do anything the rest of the day but think how good I feel Love her? Why, I worship the little brat. I went by Aviation Headquarters and found that my orders to the front can't come until tomorrow, so I will have to spend another day in Paris. I am going to repack my trunk and grip and write to my wife and then turn in. I am impressed with the fact that the behavior of the women and the men is opposite from in America. The women are aggressive and if someone half knocks you down in a crowd, which happens often, you know without looking that it is a woman. The men are polite and considerate. I have been sorely tempted to slap some women who shove you around with absolutely no consideration. They are not backward about making advances, either.
Saturday, December 15, 1917
Paris and Villacoublay, France
Got up at 8 a.m. and went to Maj. Wills' office to see about expense account. Prom there I went to Aviation Headquarters to see if my orders to the front had come. They had not, so I went out to see the Spad Factory. It was extremely interesting. The workmanship is wonderful. It hardly seems to be possible to build a machine lighter than they have and it is strongly built too. The way they mounted the 1 1/2" cannon in the motor and the automatic loader were interesting. Their 300 h.p. experimental machine flew the wings off of it and buried the pilot 9 ft. After lunch I drove out to Villacoublay, the largest aviation station in France. It was well worth the trip. It is where all the new types of machines are tried out. I never saw so many different types before. From the big Voisin triplane that looks like a battleship down to the little 150 m.p.h. Morane parasol. The Morane and Nieuport Monosoupape are so fast that you wonder how a man can live in them. I came back at dark. My orders have not come yet, which means I will have to stay here another day. At the hotel tonight I met Maj.------ about half full with a disgustingly painted up little French street walker he calls Lulu. It makes me sick the way some of these married officers in France have already contracted diseases. I was tired after dinner and came up to my room and have been writing up my notes. My rheumatism is uncomfortable tonight. I feel like a new man since I heard from my precious little wife yesterday. I bet I have read her letter fifty times and expect to read it some more. I am afraid these lazy Army officers are going to mess up my plans by delaying my orders to the front. They never seem to do anything on time or well.
Sunday, December 16, 1917
Paris and French Front, France
Orders came and I left for front. Glad to get away from Paris but weather is miserable. Been snowing all day and there is several inches of snow on the ground. Arrived at Hdqrs. 4th French Army about noon. Met by staff oar. On way up everything was impressive of war. Your papers are examined everywhere and soldiers in steel casques are always in evidence. On every siding are ammunition, guns and troops. Roads are filled with long lines of supply wagons and artillery going to the front. It is all businesslike and impressive. They were extremely nice to me at Hdqs. A staff officer showed me all the maps and explained how Army is run, information of the enemy gotten and noted on the different maps. Am staying with the Captains' Mess tonight. They are fairly comfortable but the place is like an iceberg. So cold I can't write anymore.
Monday, December 17, 1917
Front of 4th French Army
Got up frozen stiff and left after breakfast in a staff car for the 13th Groupe of combat machines. They are just behind the line of balloons with hangars around the edge of a wood. The Groupe is composed of the 65th, 85th, 15th and 124th Escadrilles. The 124th is the LaFayette Escadrille at LaCheppe. The others are at La Noblette. Saw quite a lot of the LaFayette pilots. The pilots live in huts of rough boards and the wind whistles through with little obstruction. Can't describe anything as my hands are numb with cold. There is a line of old trenches on side of field which soldiers off duty use in practice drills. These poor soldiers are really pitiful and are thoroughly sick of the war. Just in front of us are the line of sausage balloons. They look queer hanging up there. It cleared up in the afternoon and I saw very interesting sights of antiaircraft shells bursting around our machines. Two or 3 boches came out and I saw our pilots go for them. It was certainly pretty but the boches all got away. It is so cold I can hardly write. At dark 2 of our pilots had not returned and we were uneasy about them. At 8 p.m. we called up the advanced artillery and they said the last they saw of them they were in German territory fighting 3 boches. We were worried until 1 came in on foot at 9 p.m. and said they had gotten lost and landed several miles away and walked to camp. At night I noticed the artillery more. It sounded like a pitched battle to me but it is just the ordinary thing. Too cold to write more.
Tuesday, December 18, 1917
Got up frozen stiff. The weather fairly clear. Persuaded a French pilot of a biplane fighting Spad to take me over the lines. We went up like an elevator and talk about speed! Wk were over the lines in no time and I was all eyes. The archies bursting near us worried me some and made it hard to look all the time for boches. I saw something to one side that looked like a fountain of red ink. Found it was the machine gun tracer bullets from the ground. After a few minutes we sighted a boche 2 seater just below us. We made for him. It was the finest excitement I ever had. I got my machine gun ready. Before we got to him he dived and headed for home. On 1 of our rolls I let loose a couple of strings of 6 at him but it was too far for good shooting. After following him a ways over the lines we turned to look for another. None were out so we came home. Finest trip I ever had. If the boche had not turned quite so soon, I think I might have got him. Watched pilots doing stunts in afternoon. At about 8 p.m. we were huddled around a small fire in the hut when we heard 3 boche machines fly over very low. Two of them did not locate our place and went on. We went outside and saw the other 1 flying around trying to locate the hangars so we made for the machine gun pit. He finally flew down the line and let go a couple of bombs, as he came over we opened on him but the gun jammed and no one could fix it in the dark. He made 3 trips and let go 2 bombs each trip. Then he left us. We found he had dropped them all in the woods and no machines were hurt. We went back and tried to sleep but every time a big gun would go off I thought it was another raid. I am writing this Wednesday night with my hands blue from cold. There is certainly no lack of excitement around here.
Wednesday, December 19, 1917
French front near Suippes
Walked 6 miles before daylight and went in the trenches. They are filthy and horrible. Don't see how the men stand it. The stink of dead Huns in front is awful even in this cold weather. Soon after daylight I followed a party cleaning out an old communicating trench with hand grenades. I went until I saw 4 boches killed by grenades and 2 bayoneted and 1 poilu shot through the head. It was sickening but I suppose I would get used to it. Everyone does. Late in afternoon the boches began shelling the trench and we retired to dugouts. I stood in the observation post a few minutes to see the show: but only until a shell landed near and the shock nearly knocked me over. I hunted the dugout also. One observer was wounded. After dark we started for the rear and I was relieved to get some pure air. After walking f miles in the cold I am writing this. The shells bursting at night are very pretty. It has been a rather exciting day.
Thursday, December 20, 1917
French front near La Cheppe
Clear this morning and snow practically all blown away. About 9 a boche biplane came over and a Frenchman from 65th tackled him. The fun only lasted a minute and Mr. Boche came spinning down and fell in a field just across the road. We were there in no time. Both were killed, of course. Pilot had a bullet in his head. The observer was killed by the fall. The photographer went over and took a photo which he promised to send me. About an hour later another boche came over and 2 Frenchmen from 15th shot him down but he fell some distance away and I did not go over. Watched the Archies trying to hit our machines the rest of the day. Left for train by auto at 6 p.m. and arrived Paris 10 p.m. Too tired to write more.
Friday, December 21, 1917
Front 6th French Army near Soissons
Left on early train for Hdqrs 6th French Army. Nearly froze on train. Met by auto and taken to Hdqrs and from there to Corps d'Armee Groupe. A big Latourd was getting ready to take photos. I went along in the front seat. Had 6 fighting machines above us. Saw no boche but Archies were bursting uncomfortably near for me, Took our photos and were back in 45 minutes without anything unusual happening. Rest of afternoon they showed me their system of taking finishing and distributing photos. Drove back to Soissons frozen stiff and with rheumatism giving me hell. Billeted in old barn of hotel. Writing this half frozen.
Saturday, December 22, 1917
6th French Army, near Soissons
Bad a most exciting day. Went very early to the Bois de Boche to see artillery and watch trenches from observatory. Wore big French fur overcoat in addition to my own. Went through old boche system of trenches and tunnels at Bois de Boche to the observatory. Fine place. Could see the lines for miles. Watched our artillery shell a boche blockhouse. Saw boche form a box barrage, but our artillery shelled them so heavily the raid was not successful. There is lots of activity here today. The colonel says it is because the boche are nervous. Watched 2 persistent boche airplanes being shelled. On our way out we stopped at a battery of 75's which was shelled the day before. On our way to the captain's dugout the boches started shelling it again. The second shell hit near us and knocked me into a shell hole. My casque was knocked off and dented by a fragment and after we reached the dugout we found that another fragment had taken a patch of fur off the shoulder of the French overcoat and bruised my arm slightly. They must have fired 20 102mm shells. One shell caved in 1 entrance to the dugout, another ruined a gun and a third buried 200 rounds of our ammunition. We waited half hour after the firing stopped and then beat it out of danger. The captain let me keep the casque I wore as a souvenir. In hurrying to get away from the battling I got very hot and then very cold driving the 30 miles in auto to catch train. Train was frigid so I had a very bad cold when I reached Paris.
Sunday, December 23, 1917
Spent morning getting my sweet little wife's present, some money and looking for mail. None for me. Cold and rheumatism so bad will spend night here. Been in bed all afternoon. About dinner time maid said the air raid warning was given. I got up and went out to see the fun. Streets were dark and practically deserted. Pretty moonlight night. Watched French machines of Paris patrol flying back and forth over city until 10 p.m. Decided it was a false alarm and went to bed Feeling pretty sick.
Monday, December 24, 1917
Amiens and Calais,
Left on early train for Amiens to get authority for British front. No one knew anything about it. Most miserable and uncomfortable place I ever saw. Left for Calais and arrived frozen and sick. Ache all over, especially my side and back. Room like an iceberg. Was sick all night.
Tuesday. December 25, 1917
Calais and Dunkirk, France
Xmas! Got up so sick could hardly walk. Decided to get to American doctor at Dunkirk as soon as possible. After most miserable trip I ever had, arrived at Dunkirk, went straight to bed and sent for doctor and was away on a drunk with French officers but doctor came promptly and said I had kidney stone, a very bad cold and rheumatism combined. The pain in my side was getting unbearable so he gave me some dope and put me to sleep. This was a Merry Xmas--I don't think. I wished 14 million times my little wife was here. In fact, I can't think of anything else.
Wednesday, December 26, 1917
After a restless night I woke up with the pain almost gone. Doctor came around and said I would have to stay in bed all day. ~ has not shown up and no one knows where he is. HE is liable to be away drunk for several days. If doctor will let me I am going to the front tomorrow. Wonder what my sweet little wife is doing. Will certainly be glad to get back to her. It is fierce being in bed all alone in this Godforsaken place.
Thursday, December 27, 1917
Dunkirk and San Paul, France
Woke up feeling better but not well. ------ came in. He had been on a tear with French and British officers. Got up and drove to his station. It is too crowded and in a bad location, They have 17 machines ready but are not flying. Took lunch with , Dr. Stevens, Bates and the Warrant, In afternoon drove to San Paul and saw R.N.A.S. station, watched the flying and looked at the British photos. Took dinner with . Went to room early so I could get through city gates. Expected a boche raid but clouds came over and spoiled it. Weird walk through city.
Friday, December 28, 1917
Dunkirk and British Front
Still about half sick and rheumatism giving me fits. From our station went over to French and British seaplane stations. Then went out to R.N.A.S. bombing station near front. Bitter cold. The Handley Pages look like battleships, Quite a little artillery actions today. Drove back through Dunkirk. Is a sad deserted looking place. There is scarcely a whole pane of glass in the city and it is hard to find a building which has not been scarred or damaged by bombs. On a recent raid 1 bomb killed 50 people. I doubt if we have a raid tonight. Too many clouds. Walked home alone tonight. Weird feeling walking through city without a single light or sign of life in it. Rheumatism hurting me so am going to bed now.
Saturday, December 29, 1917
Dunkirk, France. Dover and London, Eng.
Went to dock to get on destroyer for Dover. My destroyer had not arrived. Finally found the H.M.S, BROKE that was going over and the skipper, Cdr. Ramsay said I could come along. BROKE has a famous record in the war. Channel very rough. Saw line of nets across channel and fired some shots at something we believed was a submarine. Thought I saw another sub but it turned out to be a dead man floating in the water. Arrived Dover at 12. Cliffs are very pretty. Went up town and sent cab back for my luggage. Was so long coming thought I would miss the train. It finally arrived and I found they had dropped my trunk overboard and absolutely ruined everything in it. Awful calamity as all my good things were in it. Arrived London 7 p.m. and went to Savoy. Worked until 11 o'clock trying to save the things that were in my trunk. Hopeless job as they must have been in salt water some time. Am dead tired and half sick. Want my little wife the worst way.
Sunday, December 30, 1917
Met in lobby. He is just over and on his way to Paris. We went to the Embassy and took lunch with Edwards. Edwards had dinner with as at Savoy.
Was getting drunk with some British officers. Edwards and I got disgusted and decided to go to bed. The last I saw of _ he had a loudly dressed and painted woman and was pretty drunk. Still feel very bum.
Monday, December 31, 1917
Went to see about steamer home. Found St. Louis sails on 3rd and engaged passage. Made me feel awfully good. Went to Embassy to get orders to English schools and transportation home. Took me all day to do it. At night Edwards, Bastedo and I had dinner at Princes. All of us did not feel like waiting for the New Year so went to bed at 10. New Year's Eve was extremely quiet in London. At the Savoy there seemed to be some noise and drinking. left for Paris this morning.
Tuesday, January 1, 1918
Left London 9 a.m. Arrived Eastchurch at R.N.A.S. School of Aerial Fire 11 a.m. Is a very large, interesting and Well managed school. Took lunch with the Commandant Capt. Steele who was captured and escaped from Germany. Spent the day going over the methods used. It is the coldest kind of cold and goes right through you like a knife. Arrived London 7:30 p.m. Cold and rheumatism very bad and am going straight to bed. Certainly am homesick for my little wife.
Wednesday, January 2, 1918
Arrived R.F.C. School of Aerial Fire at Hythe at 11 a.m. Spent morning looking over ground school. After lunch drove to flying field, looked it over and then had lots of fun shooting at targets from the air and also fighting another machine in the air with the camera gun. Enjoyed it except for the cold. Arrived London at 7 p.m. Feeling so bad decided to try to forget it at a show, Went to see "Cheep." Was fairly good, Am worried about my cold and my kidney stone feels uncomfortable. Wish I had Josephine here to take care of me. It is funny I don't get any more letters. Wonder where they are. Hope she is getting mine regularly because I don't want the sweet little thing to worry. No one knows how glad I will be to get back to her.
Thursday, January 3, 1918
Steamer postponed until tomorrow. Spent day trying to buy something to take home. It is foolish as everything is higher than in New York and I have no room in my baggage. Gave up the idea.
Friday, January 4, 1218
Liverpool and S.S. "St. Louis"
Left London 9:15 and arrived Liverpool 1:30. Went directly on board St. Louis. At last I am on way home and it certainly feels good. Steamer did not sail on account of subs outside. The Leviathian (the old Vaterland) is here and the subs are probably waiting for her.
Saturday, January 5, 1918
"St. Louis" anchored at Liverpool
Woke up to find the ship still at Liverpool. We have been anchored here all day. Do not know if we sail during the night or not. Am anxious to get started. Are holding ship in port because subs are very active outside. one was just off the bar this morning. We have about 200 passengers on board. About dark we got permission to sail and sailed immediately. I am going to sleep with part of my clothes on.
Sunday, January 6, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," Belfast, Ireland
Woke up this morning to find the ship entering the harbor of Belfast, Ireland. We received a wireless that there were too many subs north of Ireland and ordering us to return to Belfast. Don't know how long we will have to stay here. Maybe several days, worse luck.
Monday, January 7, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," At Sea, North of Ireland
When I woke we were steaming out of Belfast. We kept very close to the Irish coast which is very rugged and wild. In afternoon passed a large convoy coming in. It started blowing a gale this afternoon with the heaviest snow storm I ever saw. It continued to get worse and by dark it was breaking all over the ship. Before dinner 1 of the gun crew was washed overboard. We could not even try to pick him up. Coming from the smoking room my glasses blew off and when I leaned over to try to pick them up a sea came over and came near taking me overboard. I hate to lose the glasses. This is much worse than the storm we had coming over even.
Tuesday, January 8, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," At Sea
Slept hardly at all last night. Ship rolling so could hardly stay in bunk and every few minutes my trunk would get loose and slide around the stateroom making an awful racket. Spent most of night trying to keep it from smashing everything in the room. No one allowed on deck all morning. Smoothed down a little about noon, though it is still rough. The rough gales have been the best kind of protection against subs. If one had hit us we could not have even lowered a boat. Tonight we are nearly out of the danger zone, thank goodness. Hope will get a good nights sleep. Need it.
Wednesday, January 9, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," At Sea
Weather has been smooth and fine all day. We are in Gulf stream and although we are in the latitude of Labrador in winter, it is warm enough to go without an overcoat. worked part of the day. Am 1 day nearer my little wife thank God. Hope she can meet me in New York.
Thursday, January 10, 1918
"St. Louis," At Sea
Blew up again today and the old ship is rolling around so you have to hold on. Worked part of day. I figure we can't reach New York until Tuesday morning. That seems an age. Hope my little wife can meet me but won't be surprised if she does not, One day nearer to her anyway.
Friday, January 11, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," At Sea
It has continued rough all day and the old ship is rolling and pitching considerably. I tried to write my notebook part of the day but had poor luck. We made 405 miles the last 24 hours which is that much nearer home and Josephine. I wonder if she will be able to come to New York to meet me. Have decided not to be disappointed if she does not.
Saturday, January 12, 1918
S.S. "St. Louis," At Sea
Weather has been very rough all day. This afternoon the sea was so high we had to slow down to 9 knots. Made only 360 miles in 24 hours. Have headache and will turn in early. It looks like this voyage will never end. Too rough to write.