I recently came across my Dad’s diary. I knew that one existed, written in pencil in his own hand, and that I had typed it years ago, but I had not read it in many years. Born in Preston, England, he emigrated to the United States and enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 26. I hereby introduce my father, in his own words.

1891 – 1978

15th Field Artillery,  Second Division

U. S. Army 1917-1918

Among my early recollections was going to Catholic school with sister Janie holding my hand. We had nearer schools but they were not of our belief so we could not use them. Dad had been an altar boy when he was young and we were all very proud of our altar upstairs in the front room till someone put a candle too near the gauze around the altar and it all caught fire.

I would be about seven years old when Dad went to a spiritualist meeting with a friend to expose the medium who was making believe she could see spirits. This he told me later in life. When the meeting was over they went to the medium and told her she ought to be ashamed to stand there and tell such nonsense. The medium assured Dad she could see spirits and told him if he would go home and find a quiet place and pray hard to see something, he too might learn. Dad told me he went home and did as directed and to his great surprise did see the spirit of a young lady. He told himself perhaps I am deluding myself by my intense wish to see, and thought if I can go to the window and look outside to see if things appear normal, and turning around she is still there I will believe and teach. He turned around and the spirit was still there and he believed to the extent he later opened his own church for many years where many mediums would come and give testimony.

Dad somehow learned how to let himself be controlled by a spirit and we children and parents would have seances when mother would say, “Dad, let the white man come,” and Dad would tremble a little and the spirit would speak to us, so I was early indoctrinated into a belief in a life hereafter, but I find I have never wished to be controlled by any other spirit than my own.

When I was about fourteen Dad bought me a bicycle and I was very happy with it until one day with Dad at the top of a steep hill my brakes gave way and the bicycle, being of the fixed wheel variety, the pedals began going around fast so I could only put my feet on the top fork of the front which began going faster and faster till Dad was left way behind and then to my dismay I came upon many children playing in the road around a schoolhouse . I could see just one clear way through them and turned my speeding wheels ever so slightly and came through them so fast I don’t believe some of them ever saw me. After a time the hill gave out and I came to uphill and was able to stop. I remember the long time I had to wait till Dad was able to meet me again.

I seemed destined for a life of adventure for a short time later Mother told me to light the gas stove. I tried to and the explosion that followed blew me away from the stove, the heavy door was blown off its hinges, and the window in the kitchen blown out by the force of the explosion. All the neighbors came around to see what had happened but apart from the big noise no great harm was done….

We had a room in the basement that had no windows and one day Dad noticed a smell of gas around there. He did not dare go in there where we would hear a hissing sound but a neighbor had more courage and lit a match and with Dad and me following him, with our hearts in our mouths, he put his match to a section of the lead pipe and a flame that seemed to be over a foot long reached out. It seemed some rat had bitten a hole in the pipe and the plumber had to come out and fix it. I have often wondered since what gave the man assurance we would not all be blown to kingdom come.

I remember later I went to an indoor swimming pool in town and thinking I would be brave I dived from the high board at the deep end of the pool. To my great surprise I found the body of a boy lying unconscious on the floor of the pool. I grabbed him and pulled him up to find he was one of my playmates. We squeezed the water out of him and he seemed OK afterwards.

Later working in a mule room where they spun cotton I had another explosion. The mule room was a building about two hundred yards long and perhaps a hundred yards wide, quite a large building. Inside they have long machines to spin the cotton on to wind spools of thread about five inches long and about one inch wide that the weavers who weave the cloth use to make the cross pattern of the cloth. The mule is a long machine perhaps sixty yards long and they run on steel tracks in and out perhaps eight feet long. The machines were in pairs and face each other sometimes ten pairs to a mule room. Overhead are large lights, about eight to every pair of mules. One night I was working on a bench where there was an empty socket dangling from the roof. With the knife in my hand I unthinkingly put the knife into the empty lamp socket. The result was tremendous. From a well lit mule room we had a room of complete darkness. Every light was out of use and the spinners on the machines had to go in complete darkness in bare feet to find the control of the machines to stop them. I never expected such great results from one small action. The shock to me was terrible but I was not really hurt and no one ever found the cause of all the commotion, thank God.

Later seeing my friends getting married and settling down to what I thought would be an uneventful life I decided not to marry till I was thirty years old and the cotton mill industry being on the decline in Massachusetts I moved to Bridgeport CT and found employment in what they called the UMC, Union Metallic Cartridge Co., who had an order from Russia to make rifles and we made rifles till the slogan – Make the world safe for democracy – got into the heads of two of my friends who worked with me, and they talked me into believing we should all go down to the recruiting station on Fairfield Ave and enlist.

I was in love with the girl next door, Miss Agnes Geoghegan, who was a Catholic and I did not want to marry a Catholic since my family had left that faith and I knew if I stayed I would marry her so I thought it best to enlist with the other two and make the world safe for democracy, and soon found myself on a ship going to France. General Leonard Woods was then our commander and I remember him making a speech down to us men below and telling us this was likely a one way trip. We did not enjoy the speech as being young we thought death was not for us.

We reached England on Christmas eve 1917 and thought war was indeed hell when the food on the ship gave out before landing and jam and bread was the fare. Christmas eve we slept on the docks at Liverpool and went to Southampton by train the next day. All the walls of the train were covered by writing made by previous British and Americans going to France, giving the outfit they belonged to and comments about the war. We slept in Southampton and the next day played soccer football with the most mixed team of players I ever will see. Scotsmen wearing kilts, Australians, Welsh and British all playing against one another. The next day we went to France after the worst crossing I ever saw. Our men were all seasick on the floor below and the stench of vomit was so awful I and a man named VanCleef had to go on deck to get some air. Neither of us was the least bit seasick.

We got to Havre, France, and had a good meal at an English camp on top of a steep hill. On December 28th we marched to the train depot to go somewhere. The next three days were a nightmare to all the men. Herded in boxcars, forty men to a car, we got our first real taste of war. For three days and nights, half frozen, with no food, we traveled to a camp Valdahon with the inside of the cars white with frost and bitter cold wind blowing through every crack. Many paid the price of that journey. Measles and pneumonia took many to death. We got our first leave of absence on January 12 and visited the town of Becancon , the birthplace of Victor Hugo.

On January 16 Sergeant Warren and I were the only ones to answer roll call in our section, all the rest were ill from that terrible train ride. On February 8 we heard of the English ship Tasmania and the loss of 210 people by German submarines and that Russia had made peace with Germany. On March 20th we traveled by road to Camp du Cinq Freres about seven miles from the front lines near Verdun and saw French and German airplanes in battle for the first time. The Germans trying to find our camp and the French holding them too busy to learn much.

Saw a wagon drawn by six mules coming down a hill at breakneck speed. I knew that terrible speed could not last. When it settled, the whole outfit, mules, driver, and wagon, lay in a tangled heap at the foot of the hill.

On April 6th our men took over a French position on a hilltop in some wood. It was a quiet sector. Both the Germans and French had seemingly agreed to cut the war out for all the comforts of home were around the gun, small gardens and rustic seats. Carlson, Ripton, Setzer, were ordered to report for duty on our guns on April 1, 1918. We were all cheerful except Ripton who told me he had a feeling he would be killed in the first battle and the truth was he was the first man killed the next day. I saw him dead with a piece of shell gone through his head just below the helmet and I found a small man has a better chance in battle . The same fragment would have missed me. We had our guns in pits buried below the ground for the French gunmen had warned us the Germans had the exact range on their guns and the French on German guns. Lieut. Coye told us they would open fire in the early morning and remarked we would likely catch hell when they did. We were warned to have our gas masks handy as gas shells were expected and we carried shells to a storehouse near the guns.

We went to sleep later to be wakened by a thundering noise. We went out to find our four guns blazing away in the darkness. Our shells were being answered by German fire and the flames shooting from our guns and the fire of the shells hitting near was a picture of hell. Then Bradshaw told us to carry more shells to his gun as they were out of ammunition. Setzer and I worked together till the Germans found our exact range and trying to carry shells between trees falling and shells bursting was no picnic. If our guns had not been buried deep before we opened fire it is likely we would have all been killed for shells burst over our head while in the gun pits. We did hesitate once we got some shells to the gun to go and get more but somehow we did and found Ripton killed just a few yards away. By this time our gun muzzles were red hot from firing and when the command came to Cease Fire they lit cigarettes from the red heat on the guns. When daylight came where before was comfort all was destroyed, the woods and rustic seats all demolished, nothing but broken trees and holes in the ground left and the Battery F 15 Field Artillery had received their baptism of fire.

French artillery relieved us and we were obliged to pull out guns from position by hand. All was quiet but by some chance the Germans suspected something and opened fire for no sooner was the rope attached to the gun when the firing commenced and we suspected spies among us, the timing was so perfect. We stayed under cover wearing gas masks till we thought the gas had lifted and I was the first one to grab the rope and with those behind began to pull till I came to a small shell hole and thinking it was too small to worry about I slipped into it and began to lose consciousness. I tried to get my gas mask into position and that was the last I knew till I found myself on the shoulders of two men carrying me to field hospital. I stayed there overnight and when men were being sent to base hospital I decided I was well enough to go back, and told the doctor. He seemed surprised but offered no protest.

Our next position was near Fort Troyon where we found a graveyard of thousands of French soldiers who had made the supreme sacrifice for their country. On our way to Corpru on June 6th we passed through the town of Meaux and saw many strange sights along the way. The Germans were advancing toward Paris and all inhabitants of towns between there and Paris were walking the highways carrying and leading all the possessions they could. The roads were almost impassible from cows, pigs, chickens, geese and wagons carrying household goods. It was a sorrowful sight seeing those people leaving all they loved behind them and going God knows where. Old men and women staggered along carrying what they could and little children clinging to mothers’ skirts crying over the hardship of the day, and young boys too young to carry a gun taking the journey lightheartedly and adding the one note of cheer to a distressing scene. As we marched past they gazed curiously, I suppose wondering if we could stop the Germans and we, too, wondered, when they were so near to Paris, could they be stopped?

After reaching the small town of Domptin, vacated by almost all French people, two men from Batteries D, E, and F were ordered to act as liaison men to carry orders from infantry to artillery and vice versa. I and Norwood were taken from F Battery and we had many experiences together. We were delighted with the assignment as it gave us a horse of our own and although the job was dangerous we had a degree of freedom I guess nobody else had for we rode day and night carrying orders from Battalion Headquarters to all units of our infantry, the 5th and 6th Marines and the 9th and 23rd infantry, and one time to the French army where I found most of the gun crews playing soccer football and one man fired the four guns.

Soccer being a game I loved I asked could I join the game and had the good fortune to score a goal which put me in with both teams and the red wine flowed freely afterwards. Our stay in Corpru was not long as the Germans got the exact range on the church there and all gun positions so we moved to Domptin where a big hill gave us some protection. My buddy Norwood made a hole to sleep in and I told him it was no good but to sleep with me behind a big rock. He came and he was indeed lucky for the next morning his small hole was a big crater made by a German shell. We slept in a farmhouse at Corpru and a shell came in the next room killing all the horses there, leaving us untouched. After we moved to Domptin I was sent to find the guns of Battery D and deliver firing instructions. I was told how to find the guns by a runner who was later killed while riding my horse. It was after midnight when I found the place where I thought the guns would be and I shouted at the top of my voice, “Battery D, where are you?” Then there was a tremendous explosion to my right and I found myself in the center of a sea of red flame that made every branch of the trees around stand out clearly and something kissed my lips. Then I found myself watching the barrel of a gun slowly recoil and saw the after-flame swirling around the inside of the barrel. I have known gunners to kiss a shell hoping to end the war but I realized few ever kissed a shell after it was fired and lived. Our shells had a range of quite a few miles and I have wondered what happened when it hit the German side.

The battle of Chateau Thierry was on and we seemed to be doing well, at least we were not moving back towards Paris. The Major McDowell put his chef under arrest for throwing water on him from the upstairs windows and a Corporal Burley and I were on guard over him, but Corporal Burley was seriously injured by a German shell while going to get some breakfast. We ate good at this time for the French people had left much of their stock behind; that and the wine left in cellars made for high living. Some old people had chosen to remain in their homes they loved so well and take the risk of German victory.

I was sent to Colonel Malone back in Corpru with a message and found him and staff buried inside a pile of stones that had been a church. I saw some tall candles on the altar of the church and thought they would be fine at night in our dugout when we had no light so I got the candles and was going away when a German shell entered the church and I made a fast get-away back on my horse to Domptin with shells falling along the road behind me. A few days later I loaned my horse to Hoffman, another liaison man, and he and my horse were hurt so I had to go back to rear stables for a new one. Lepinsky, the stable sergeant, gave me the worst horse he had, thinking I did not take care of them. When the major saw my horse he was angry and gave me a note for Lepinsky that must have hurt for he gave me I think the best horse he had. One of the worse trial of a liaison man is to be called to go somewhere just before meal time and miss eating, but if we happen to hit some infantry at meal time and say we were from the artillery we were assured of a good meal if they had it.

On another occasion a soldier made a hole too far under a huge rock and it took many men hours to get the rock off his body. On June 25th we witnessed an airplane fight overhead between a German plane and a French plane and the French plane downed the German after about ten minutes of the best dodging I had ever seen. The aviator of the French plane flew down low and waved his hand to us while we cheered.

July 1st was a big day for the Second Division. I had seen piles and piles of shells stored at different points in my travels across the land and on that day every gun in France seemed to be firing at the same time to the extent that the ground below our feet shook and we reached for something to hang onto. The Germans had a salient about seventeen miles deep into France pointing the way to Paris but this penetration was wiped out by the intense artillery fire and the possible advance of our infantry. The German prisoners that came past us showed in their dehumanized faces the terrible strain of the ordeal they had gone through, I think the worse and most terrible artillery fire in all history. These German prisoners numbered about seventeen thousand and gave us hopes of an early end to the war.

The battle of St. Mihael had been a big success for the American army. I was sent the next day to report to Lieut. Vandergref of the 23rd Infantry to establish more perfect communication between Infantry and Artillery. They were camped on ground taken from the Germans, and rifles, canteens, haversacks, gas masks and such were lying all around. I found the Infantry did not even have the small comforts the Artillery had, making their meals on an old bean can partly filled with layers of wax candle and cloth which gave a surprising amount of heat for meals and comfort.

On July 9th we were relieved by the 26th Division and in passing told them to hold the ground we had taken. One man replied they would take more ground in one day than we could take in a week, and we wished them luck. Their 102nd Artillery was mostly from my home town of New Bedford. We left Nanteuil Sur Marne on July 15th and traveled all night and the following day without rest, many men falling asleep on their horses. Our destination was in the vicinity of Soissons where we put our guns in position. The ground showed signs of heavy battles, the shell holes meeting shell holes for miles. We saw French tanks going into action for the first time. Our Infantry were to attack in the early morning and I carried orders requiring artillery support to Battery Headquarters. It was meant as a big surprise for the Germans.

I was told to take firing orders to Battery D but got lost and found myself in the infantry advancing in complete darkness, one man’s head on the shoulders of the man ahead. So I began to shout, “Battery D, where are you?” And had the good luck to find a sentry on guard who told me to go to a canteen tent and step in and give the captain my orders. I stepped in the tent onto the captain’s face, who was lying on the ground with head to the entrance to get some air. I gave him my order when he was able to talk and in almost no time, where all had been quiet, all was life. We opened fire at about four in the morning; it was a terrible barrage. Later our men began to bring in prisoners. Some awful hurt from the hell they had come through.

July 19 we were still advancing, many prisoners constantly passing us. Dead Germans and Americans lying around everywhere. We gained ground so fast that our field kitchens could not know where we were. I had three meals in four days and scarcely any sleep. I saw a company of French Lancers going into action. They presented a magnificent appearance with their well-groomed horses, sturdy build, and long lances gleaming in the sun. It seemed impossible for anything to successfully oppose them. Concentrated Power for cleaning up after the German retreat at Vaure Castile. One German gun cleverly hidden had blocked our advance for a long time there. Whenever anything tried to pass a certain point a shell would hit and demolish them. It was rumored that a leave to Paris would be the reward for anyone stopping that gun, and someone must have earned the leave for it did stop and the advance continued. After seeing a truck-load of wounded soldiers going to the rear and safety hit by a shell from that gun. somehow the truck kept going but the mangled bodies were evident.

The battle of Soissons was in full swing and no holds were barred, our guns standing in the open and firing with German planes overhead, dropping bombs where they would do the most damage. At night, dog-tired, we would lie down and some German plane would make a big light and then artillery would answer with shells on our position, and every time we moved that night the same procedure. The light and the rat-tat-tat of the airplane machine gun and the answering fire from the German artillery till we got tired of moving and let the artillery do their worst–we could do no more. While here we got one meal a day for over a week and sleep forgotten as we were advancing continuously. I was constantly carrying orders it seemed day and night and I had not had my shoes off for a month. Sometimes I rode my horse till he refused to go any more and would turn around the way we had come, and I had to tie him and carry on the best I could. And the liaison men, runners, of Battery D, E, F were all just as busy as I was. We knew we were winning and our strength seemed endless. Sometimes we found German guns abandoned. One German shell hit the ground about a yard way. It was a monster about two feet long and must have weighed a hundred pounds. The nose of the shell broke open and a black fluid leaked out and that was all, but my hair standing on end told me I had been scared to death point.

July 21st we were told to move to the rear and marched miles, happy in the thought of some rest and food, and then we were told to go back and support the French Moroccan infantry. It took all the heart out of all of us but we had no choice and we got back there somehow. On this day my friend Henry Stine was killed and Listing and Arnold injured. We buried Henry near our gun. The runner who often worked with me and for me, Norwood and I were told to direct some incoming troops to their new positions at meet them at a point where the road forked. Norwood decided to stay in the center of the road and wait for the incoming troops. I told him it was foolish to stand there as the Germans always shell the cross roads. Apparently he thought I had a point for he came with me behind a building just in time to see a shell hit the exact spot he left. That made twice I had saved the same man by a few words.

The Second Division had been on the front for a long time and we heard of Divisions behind we wanted to fit and we thought why, why should we be driving to exhaustion so often. Half-starved, weary for want of sleep, unshaven, and with our clothes in rags we must have been a sight to see. Sometimes we thought everyone had forgotten we were on the front. Colonel Dunes gave us a speech telling us how imperative we gave the Germans no time to entrench again and pay the terrible price of dislodging them again. If we could take it, the war might be over by December. We thought his talk was just to give us a little more courage, but time proved him right.

On July 20 the French artillery took over our sector and, oh, what a relief. We broke camp the next day and went to the town of Betz. This was now a quiet sector and we sure needed the quiet. August 8th was a big day for all of us after five months of harboring cooties day and night and eternal scratching till we were scarred from stem to stern. We were given a shower and a pail of ointment to heal the sores and were clean again, that great luxury. In the Salvation Army canteen in Sanzey we saw American girls again and they seemed so strange after months of men, men. We had no money but were made welcome to the point I have never let them down by not giving since that time.

I was carrying orders to permit non-commissioned officers to apply for a leave and I thought if anyone deserved a leave, I did, and applied and received a leave to Aix les Bains. Although I had little money it was a great change from war. Sergeant Bradshaw and I stayed together and visited the famous Houlecont Abbey where many royalty of France are immortalized in marble. Going back to war after a week of pleasure was almost too much to take, but war is war and we had the make the best of it. We found the 15th artillery at Vilerne? Our force of liaison men had been increased, a sure sign something big was going to happen.

Sept 12 started a big drive against the enemy. Our guns blazed for six hours and we captured thousands of prisoners. I saw a tank hit directly by a German shell and later opened the door to see what had happened and found no body but a film of matter all around the inside. The operator had been blown to a pulp. The guns of the second battalion were lined up side by side on Oct 3rd and our infantry went over the top with our guns firing right behind them. The Germans suffered terrible losses and dead and dying left in the field. In one trench we passed over four machine gunners who had died behind their guns. In one place a mere boy lay shot through the center of his forehead holding a German bomb in his hand unthrown. The bodies of our men dead in the field told a mute story of the cost of victory. Jack Thoma was killed here, a friend who had played me many a checker game at Pine Camp in the early days of our war.

While carrying orders here I came across a place where a French driver of six horses and a caisson behind was hit by a German shell. The six horses were all injured, three of them still standing on their legs, and the driver still held the reins in his hands, with his head taken completely off. The German dead lay around for some time unburied. Private Beatty and I were sent to report to Captain Cummings to find out if it was safe for our guns to advance further. On my way to escape shell fire I rode my horse at full speed. Suddenly he stopped and I found myself sailing through the air to hit the ground some yards from my still standing horse. He had put his front hoof down into a small shell hole and if he had not stopped quickly he would have broken his leg. I pulled out his hoof and found he was unhurt and proceeded, thanking heaven I was still all in one piece after hitting the road so hard.

Later we found ourselves in the range of German machine guns and thought the fuss, fuss, fuss from fear till we realized we were in sight of the enemy and quickly moved to a safer place as horses were very valuable and we could spare none. Later our artillery did not know how far the infantry had advanced and Lieut. Howry and I and two more runners were sent to locate the front lines, taking the road to St. Etienne. We got the idea we were under enemy observation as the ground around was full of shell holes. We passed through infantrymen hidden in the grass who seemed surprised to see anyone exposed as we were. I made the suggestion we spread out so someone could report back in case a shell hit near but no one agreed so we kept on to St. Etienne when all hell broke loose with shells falling all around. My horse dropped dead under me and as soon as I hit the ground we were all running to a hole we saw near there, and I found stairs leading down. I knew if I walked it would be my last so without stopping I dived head first down the long stairs and found a shell hitting the ground near on my way down. Lieut. Howry later went out and found the front lines of infantry and told me to follow Line, another runner with a message to Battalion Hdqrs. As I reached the road the German shells began to fall near and I had to jump into the ditch along the road to escape being killed. That one gun chased me for half a mile here I found Line resting with his horse. I asked him could I take his horse and ride with my orders and he let me have the horse as we found the horse of Lieut. Howry there unhurt and Line decided to take care of him.

When I again reached headquarters the Second Battalion was all set to advance but called the deal off on receipt of Lieut. Howry news of German artillery strength. Later we passed through Marehalft and Leffincourt so close on the heels of the Germans that towns were still on fire as we passed through.

Oct. 15th. Went with Major Heard and Captain Cummings to locate our gun positions. My friend Setzer was killed in this sector. He and Norwood had been my best friends for months. We gained ground so far we advanced our guns three times in one day. We finally settled down for the night in Coulommes. Here we were told that Austria-Hungary had surrendered and then we knew we had the war won! Lieut. Howry took me in daylight to where we would advance and I was sure I had it all in mind till midnight came and in complete darkness I found with thousands of men following I did not know the way. I had reported to Major Heard, now Lieut. Colonel Heard, as guide and now found myself completely lost. Wow. It was necessary to inquire of another outfit the right road. I succeeded in assigning the gun crew to their new positions but the new Post of Command for the Colonel was in complete darkness. We searched the field for some time and at last in complete disgust told me a few things. I asked him could I go alone to look and thinking I could do no worse he agreed and I stumbled on the elusive Post of Command that had been German Headquarters a few days before. I had a hard time to find the Colonel again to tell him I had found his new PC but he could not believe me and I could not blame him. If ever a man had a bad night I did that night but at last he decided to follow me and we did find his future PC and the next night with lights burning inside and noise of laughter and cheer ringing through the night I thought I was forgiven.

Prisoners by the thousands passed us the next day and many of them mere boys. We knew Germany had spent the last of their manpower. November 5th. We were within four miles of Beaumont and still advancing. How long could Germany hold out? We got a surprise at breakfast when a German plane flew down over our heads and the flyer waved his hand to us when he could have killed us with a bomb. Were we glad. But German machine gun hidden along the roadside took a terrible toll of lives as we passed through and found them later shot behind their guns. The long continued advance had exhausted horses and men and many horses died from sheer exhaustion. The Germans had destroyed everything they could to delay our advance and mines and bombs were laid, telegraph poles cut off close to the ground and every wire cut, and houses in ruins greeted us all the way, no matter how costly they had been to build.

Rumors were around that the Germans had accepted a peace term but I had no hope till a French soldier came to me saying, “Monsieur, Le guerre est finis.” Then I believed. Soon we passed thousands of prisoners, English, Russian, Italian, who looked very hungry and very weary of war but happy to be on their way home again. In Germany we were in a long line passing through the lovely country when some man in command decided it would be a good time for a race and the word came down the line a call will start soon and all began to gallop and gallop and I, being the smallest man, with I think the best horse passed all the rest regardless of rank and came in first, and I thanked Lepinsky, our stable sergeant, for the good horse he was forced to give me.

We marched to the Rhine River at Remagen, then to Neweed. After the horse race some officer thought it was wrong for him to be walking and me, a private, riding on a good horse, and he told me to give him the horse, which I did. I think he would learn in the army the horse comes first. You don’t own the horse, the horse owns you.

July19th we started our journey home to find many tears from German women when we left. Some of our men had lost their hearts to German frauleins and wanted to marry there and then but army orders were against it. July 24th saw us aboard the Julia Leukenback bound for New York and a big parade down Fifth Avenue to Home.

We had spent some months in Germany in the Army of Occupation near the Rhine river at Heinlack and Nieuweed before we came home and I recall one early morning while on sentry duty about half past four AM I heard footsteps and saw a man approaching in the darkness. We were required to call Halt three times before shooting and I called Halt and the man came nearer. I called Halt again and the man came near. I had my gun ready to shoot when he stopped. I asked Where are you going? and the man answered Ich bin arbitan gehen – I am going to work. That man sure took an awful chance.

I went back to Bridgeport in 1922 to marry the girl I enlisted in the army to avoid marrying because she was Catholic and I had left that religion.

We went to Detroit to settle down and had Dorothy, Robert, Annette and Ernest born there. The great depression came in 1929 and carpenter work all stopped and I had to go to Pennsylvania to find work in the silk mill in Lebanon. My wages as inspector of cloth were low so we returned to Bridgeport and found employment at the same building I left to enlist, which was now owned by the General Electric Co. In 1938 my daughter Adele Marie was born.

Later I found myself in Bridgeport with a family of five children and with a weak heart the doctor said would be unfit for any kind of hard manual labor. I was discharged and told to avoid exertion but after a month of sitting I determined to try walking and found I could walk a little further everyday and I walked till my health returned and I began to build homes in Stratford. One day I read in the paper where a police captain claimed he could leave his body and be seen by others when all the time he would be home in his bedroom. I determined to try and see if I too could leave my body. I had seen my father when I was young go into a trance and have a dead person speak through him and have wondered since how it was done. When we have done with our God of traditions and come to the God inherent in every good action, then may God fire our hearts with his presence.


To my surprise, I have found that Dad has written TWO accounts of his life. The one above is more of a narrative while the other is seems to be a day-by-day diary. I am considering posting that account separately because others may well find it of historical value (though I do not relish the thought of typing the whole thing once more!)