WWI Journal: January 1, 1918

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in world war one journal | 0 comments

My grandfather, Louis Joseph Tomaselli, was a soldier in the First World War. Long after he passed away, I discovered an unsuspected treasure–his journal. Starting on New Year’s Day, 1918, he kept a journal for almost every day of the following eventful year.

The journal is small, so it would fit in a pocket, and he scribbled entries in pencil or fountain pen–his handwriting is incredibly hard to decipher, especially the faded pencil lines.

Gramps was fluent in French, so he was often assigned to go ahead of the troops to arrange food and lodging in the French towns where they were stationed.

This is his first entry.

 

January 1, 1918

Most miserable day

This is a miserable beginning. I remember last New Year’s Day, how different. Yet it is such trials as we are now going through that make home what it is. We will know how to appreciate our homes and loved ones should God be lenient with is and let us see our golden shores again.

My Christmas was a most miserable affair and today is almost as bad although we can at least rest our carcasses—but never never warm our aching feet. Christmas we were in Grande Haute Marne and a fairly good dinner had been arranged and I was to sup with the Rolas. Then at 3pm, just as dinner was being served I was ordered to pack and leave w/Lt. Cutts immediately. So I did not eat at all.

The supper which old Mother Pollet had prepared for me and my chums—from what the boys afterwards related to me—was an utter failure.

The poor Augustine was so downhearted that the party was squashed. However, before leaving the poor woman stuffed into a handkerchief a sausage, some bread, sugar, and 2 boiled eggs which she insisted I eat enroute—and what a route! I shall never forget!

We started out about 6pm [several unreadable words] a big auto truck and the truck had just a canvas covering and it was snowing—just so d—- cold.

Well, we travelled 11 hours and about 3am or a little before we alighted (not for the first time) at Neuilly L’Eveque. We were the last off the old truck and had arrived at our destination. We practically pushed the damned old truck all the way over the hill.

Next thing; to find  a lodging. Well—we hiked about 2 kilos with all our things and finally I managed to find an inn, L’Hotel du Commerce.

After having called out by quite a few of the inhabitants, the proprietress after much banging on the door decided to open and I coaxed her to make us what she could at that early hour. Fortunately she had some eggs which she made into an omelet and fixed up some chocolate which we devoured before a warm fire. Gee, that was good!

Around 4 o’clock we were shown our rooms. Holy smokes, for the first time in a dog’s age I slept again in a regular bed. But oh my, it was cold.

 

Well, the following three days I labored from early morn till dark arranging for the troops which were to stop over three days in that town. They arrived on the 28th and were well billeted. The following day the poor boys rested—and on the 30th again pulled out for Perce L’Epaule.

We—the lieutenant and myself—pulled out after then on foot over the hill. Well, the last lap was 28 kilos and many arrived with frozen and bleeding feet.

The barracks we found were simply awful. Quickly constructed barracks with fissures through which the wind howled all night. One little stove we got after about ten days and that had no fuel. We had no coal and wood was just as hard to get as bread.

In all the beginning of 1918 is not to be forgotten by the 165th especially by one corporal I know of.

 

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