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Catalog Number 2013.58.5
Object Name Diary
Accession number 2013.58
Description From the personal diary kept by Corporal Thomas R. Shook, July 21, 1918-October 20, 1918

July 21, 1918: Left camp outside of Popenghrie; Marched up to trenches outside of Dirty Bucket and relieved a Co. of 114th M.G.Bn; Placed tripods in position immediately and got ready for action; Firing continually; Jerry replies once in a while-some shells pretty close; Two men at a time on guard

July 22, 1918: Artillery was active on both sides all night; Jerry's long range gun is firing at our battery some this morning, dropping H.E. all round our men; H. Nelson was hit on the hip with a fragment of shell making him quite lame; Found a piece of railroad rail from shelling; Did not get much sleep and could not keep warm; Ten months ago since joining the Army; Ninth Batt. was shelled bad this forenoon; One H.E. shell struck near trail and tore hole 15' deep and 20' across; Letters and newspaper clippings from home

July 23, 1918: Active artillery duel on both sides last night; No shells came near; One of Jerry's planes came over at 3:45 this morning but was soon turned back by automatic rifle fire; Battery was moved by Holt Caterpillar tractors one left fixed a few shots; Quartered in a very small sheet iron and wood structure; Good sleep; Mess Sergeant sends in good chow; Began to drink coffee at mealtime owing to it being hard to get good drinking water; dug an ammo dump in the trenches last night; Seven train loads of gas shells went up the line yesterday evening; Jerry's artillery became quite active then; All color of rockets were sent up; Quite comfortable in shack last night; USA plot in Dirty Bucket graveyard has one from the 120th Infantry buried there; All officers back now

Battery crews changed last night; Another gun taken down ready to move to another location; Watched them fire a few shots; Three men on a small railroad truck were killed by shrapnel and then badly burned; Planes were chasing Jerry's this morning but too cloudy to see finish; In the Yellow Line or front line trenches; Seven train loads of our men went up to the front last night; Was excused to stand down and Jerry put shrapnel over the main road all night

July 27, 1918: Left trenches and were relieved by Co. B. 114th; Carried equipment on the other side of Dirty Bucket camp to Co. H.Q; Marched until we reached Ypres; Slept with Wilkie-wet with sweat and almost froze before morning

Heavy artillery fire kept up all night; Artillery active all day; Col. Brown and I strolled about the streets past what was left of the cathedral; Ypres had population between 50 and 75,000 in 1914; Wilkie and I tore down a door and fixed it up for a bed; Jerry's planes were active in evening and during night

July 29, 1918: Orr hit by shrapnel and badly wounded in neck and arm; Wore gas mask for first time in actual gas attack; Between nine and ten o'clock sneezing gas

Warm today; Boys have begun to catch cooties; Took a woolen letter "S" off of platoon H.Q for a souvenir; One of our planes sent of Jerry's to the earth afire; Pilot made a safe landing and was taken captive; Went after rations last night and made the trip fine although the place was badly shelled; Not much sleep with guard duty and trip after rations; Another of Jerry's planes brought down; Pvt. Riley being court-martialed for not having on his helmet-ten days pay being taken; Jerry very active in the morning; All tired but lots of mail in and issue of British clothes; Harvest is on in earnest but lots being wasted as there is no one to cut it; Had baths; Repacked limbers and ready for a change; Took train to other side of Dirty Bucket for a maneuver; Worked out another problem carrying gun and tripod for about two miles

August 7, 1918: British M.P killed near here last night by a bomb dropped from one of Jerry's planes

Have been checking up on gun equipment and squad equipment; Nice day and warm; Issued wrap leggings and a few shoes and coats came in-all badly needed; Getting ready for inspection; Began regular drill; Got supply of writing material; Three horses and three British M.P killed by Jerry's aerial torpedo

August 9, 1918: Allied troops reported to have captured Kemmel Hill-many prisoners and much ammo last night; Regular drill

Cleaned guns and equipment in moving; Getting ready for inspection; Several old Co. A men were over in the evening; Church held in the morning, our band furnishing the music; Coffee, Hickman and several of the 114th boys were over to visit us; Pack inspection today; Now acting corporal-appointed by Sgt Wilkinson on Saturday, August 10th; Drill in machine gun and with rifles

August 14, 1918: Jeanette's 17th birthday

Short drill with rifles in morning; Drill; Barrage practice drill; Gave first orders to the platoon; Today was a Belgian holiday; Packed up ready to leave; Had good night's rest; In a rush this morning getting ready for inspection; Paid today; Dick came for a visit in the afternoon; Wrote some letters to friends; Jerry is still on the run; Began drilling this morning; Officers are much more strict now; Have a new Col. who is quite hard on the Officers; Went to hand grenade school in evening; Left camp and marched 3 1/2 miles S.W. where we put our tents; Many American troops near this camp

August 21, 1918: Made Private First Class today just eleven months after entering service

Today so warm could hardly drill; Several boys walking past with packs two hours after supper for missing formations; Like this place except for poor drinking water; Easy day of drill; Sgt Campbell injured quite badly on the head in mounting a tripod; Rain too threatening for pack inspection so had rifle inspection; Letter from home; Good Co. bath; Articles of War read to the Co. after the bath; Good boxing contests put on in the evening; Belgian kids made a fun time; Rained-crawled back in tent and slept fine; Rained so could not drill, read and slept; Guards on all the time to keep Co. men from leaving; Took ammo out of belts, getting ready to fill with service ammo; Filled belts with service ammo for actual use; Worked in an old stable used by corral men; Lots of mud in streets but comfortable in tents; Machine gun drill; Received service ammo for rifles in afternoon; Had semaphore work in the afternoon also; Several changes made in the squads; Anti-aircraft guns mounted on large trucks are in here almost every day; Spent day cleaning guns and getting equipment ready for use; Allowed out in town during evening; Bought new watch; Had a little drill but spent most time getting ready to move

September 1, 1918: Mt. Kemmel captured by British O.B moved forward; No leave allowed all day as orders were expected in any time; Mail from home

Drilling again this morning; Orders came in that we were to go south; Equipment checked and surplus turned in; Capt. Ramen came back yesterday; Spent most morning in rifle drill; Saw first Hun hand grenade "the potato masher" kind; Caught first cootie this evening; Drilled with rifles for 45 minutes and took everything out of limbers; Took bath in afternoon; Had an hour of stiff rifle drill; Free from duty but could not leave camp; Tiresome ride on train; Saw very nice country; Slept fine in tents; Nothing but fatigue to do in the morning; No drill; No mail delivery; Rained a lot during the night; Took inspections in the morning; Rained nearly all day; Detailed to carry supplies to kitchen in afternoon; Lots of mail came in today; Rained greater part of the day; Had a band concert in the evening; Good bed and good night's rest; Rained a lot and the wind blew hard during the night; Lectures on machine gun work by Sargent Wilkinson during morning period; Had inspection of equipment during first hour of afternoon-off for rest of day; Had a good night rest although cooties bothered me for about an hour after I laid down; Left for a maneuver

September 14, 1918: Ed Smith shot through both legs above the knees by some one placing a live round in the belt for drill; He was wounded very bad

No drill all day; Received letters from home; Jimmie left for service on August 29th; Americans are still making great progress with first great drive; Machine gun and rifle drill during the morning; Sergeant Wilkinson told us of the mistakes we made on the maneuver Saturday; Had Co. formation drill with rifles; Rained hard again during the night; Up at four o'clock so the limbers could leave; After policing free for the day; Had dinner with Pew, Price and Joe at Pernes; Cook outfit left early this morning and rations were issued to have cooked; Had lady at the house to cook them for us; She fixed up the mess a stew; Also had stout for those that wished it; Fell out shortly; Travel; Marched to Jouton Court where several other Co's are billeted; Our Co. had to go on guard for the night in the town; Co. is confined due to men being late on formation to leave Valhoun; Eight miles from Albert; Transport made the trip overland a distance of thirty two miles; Cleaned everything up expecting an inspection by the Gen., but he failed to show; Every one sleepy and tired from the hike and guard duty last night; Co. is confined until further orders but some of the fellows leave anyway; Good rifle drill then spent an hour picking up objects on the front; Sergeant Hendrick who has been away to gas school came back today; Inspection; Called on for not having a shoe shine-Pew and Joe had their names taken for same thing; Corral and cook outfit left right after supper

September 22, 1918: Reported for service one year ago today

Drew rations; Must last until Monday night; Packed and ready to go; Allowed leave from 11:30 until 2:30: Left the Wood Camps and village of Toutencourt in the rain; Did not put raincoats on and soon very wet; Marched to Acheux where we took lorries and buses and rode to Jeancourt; Marched to a grove and pitched tents; Pew and I made our bed on some brush; Sergeants and number one men went to the gun positions; Fritz had just been driven back and everything badly torn up; Our gun is right at the front line trench; Lots of shelling going on all night; Some dropping near dugout which is only large enough for two; Jerry brought one of our O.B down; Plane was low and fell straight to the ground; The mud here is a fright and it's an awful job to get to this position from Co.H.Q; When Jerry retreated he left many boxes of M.G ammo which we can use; Not much shelling going on during the day; Co. came in at ten o'clock; 3rd and 4th squad got mixed up; I'm with the 3rd squad now; Pew and I do guard duty together; No place to rest

September 26, 1918: Several gas shells put over this morning; No one came near from our Co.; Ross and Marrah went after rations and drinking water; Met Sergeant Wilkinson who spent all night looking for us; Several of our men have been gassed and have been taken to the hospital; Saw my first dead on the battlefield-two of Jerry's "men"; Short on rations and drinking water; Jerry is doing lots of shelling; German equipment is lying everywhere; Also English rifles; Someone took mine so I salvaged another one

September 27, 1918: Our men went "over the top" last night; Pew and I with three others were after rations so we did not go; Relieved by the 119th M.G. Co; Got lost on road back to camp;Cooks had a fine warm meal for us; Quarters are in a big chalk stone cave; Our Co. is in a bad shape; Clothes very bad; Have twenty men on the casualty list, no one killed- two shot, several gassed, and a few shell shocked

Went down to the railroad track to watch the large H.M.G fire; Has a range of over 30 miles; Gun can fire in any direction; Takes four men to carry the powder charge; Recoil sends the car many feet down the track; Cleaned guns which were in an awful shape; Push on the Hindenburg line began this morning; Gained their objectives and we were not needed; Only had rain coats and shelter and almost froze in the rain and wind; Hardly any shelter; Heavy gun fire all night

September 30, 1918: Saw first prisoners of war; Scores of tanks go by nowdays; Calvary by the hundreds

Sat in our little hole around our trench stove trying to keep warm; Use lots of powder to keep the fire going; Relieved by an Australian Co. but did not give up our quarters; Overcoats came in so we will sleep warmer; Mail again from home, eight letters in all; Left camp early in the morning for a rest camp; Passed through Roisel and stopped at old camp for dinner; In afternoon marched to a point; Not very good quarters; Free to leave after two o'clock; Went to Peronne two miles north; Badly shelled by both sides; Large old fort there; Fine square but statue gone; Inspection this morning by Co. officers of equipment; Badly in need of clothing; Shirts and socks came in for the Co. this afternoon; Left camp near Peronne shortly after eight taking buses for the front; Got off to the left of old position; Marched to Bellicourt where we spent the night on barges on the St. Quentin canal in the famous Hindenburg line; Full of barges and the place the 27th Division failed to mop up and where the Germans came out after they had passed; No prisoners were taken; Infantry goes over everyday now, capture many civilian prisoners; All ready to go to the front if needed; Left camp which was just over and on the east side of the St. Quentin Canal and marched; Slept in a small trench until about 3:30 and then started for firing line

October 9, 1918: Morning began the heaviest and longest barrage the allies have used since the war started-lasted three hours; Germans put on a very heavy counter barrage; Some gassed, and a few fell out; We took numerous prisoners in our first village where they opened machine gun fire on us; Did first actual firing; Many prisoners taken, some badly wounded; After mopping up the town-put down a counter attack and took up our position on the north edge of town; Germans are retreating fast and burning and destroying all they can; Slept under a small brick bridge last night; Jerry planes dropped many bombs in the town; I am in charge of the squad again; Mack Reid gassed yesterday; Pew hit by small piece of shrapnel; Made another advance following close on the heels of the Infantry who are advancing fast; Many German packs left which we secured changes of underwear; Many prisoners taken; Not many Yanks hurt; Went into the town in the evening; Civilians full of joy on being delivered from German rule- had been used cruelly by Germans; Belgian relief from U.S. destroyed here; Large mine set off in street; Treated us fine giving us coffee, cocoa and tea and vegetables for our mess; Town is not torn up much; Took our guns in from these positions yesterday evening; Have not had a good meal for four days; Have been cooking vegetables left by Jerry, no potatoes left; Safe place near a tunnel which Germans had mined but failed to explode; Telephone poles destroyed by bombs of some sort; Limbers and kitchen outfit located this morning a mile and a half in advance of us; Had a good meal after living on the country for several meals; Pack and all personal belongings have been stolen; Several letters and pictures; Am sleeping with Pew; Had a good bed; Price came in with us when rest of Co. came back from the lines; Moved all morning finally stopping north of the brick house in a small grove-27th Division relieved us; Packed up machine gun equipment and noted shortages; Salvaged underwear feels good these cold mornings; Put up a double shelter tent, making a fine bed of leaves and using our two salvaged blankets; Talks of peace terms are very favorable; There are days we talk of recent experiences at the line and how we are going to do when we get back home again; Re-checked this morning on our outfit-lots of shortages; Tried to find a canteen to buy some sweets but failed; Big write up in the Stars and Stripes; Drill; Wilkinson discussed points where we made mistakes the last time; Went to Bohain in afternoon to find some chocolate; Left camp at 11:30 at night and marched; Stopped as no guide came to take us to the line; Rained so we were all wet; Found a place in a barn to build a fire; Pew and I are now back in Joe's squad; Took up a collection of 60 fr. for an old French man and his wife; Left this place at dark for the lines

October 17, 1918: Stopped at a farm until the barrage began at 3:30; Jerry had wind of it and started his attack 6' earlier; Had a machine gun barrage put over to stop him

Moved a few rods going to our positions when we got in front of a battery of Aussie's guns who were being fired on by Jerry's artillery; Using shrapnel shells and in a very short time had killed nine of our men and wounded many more; Acting corporal had his leg broken so they had to retire; Sargents wounded and one is sick so he could not come to the line; Men counted and rearranged in squads; Only have about 55 men fit to fight; Came over to the village of St. Martin River where we are under Sergeant Phillips as Sergeant Baily was sick and had to return over 9,000 men captured by our division; On guard last night; Rations in so we faired pretty well; Have stoves where we can cook our food; No work to do all day except rest; Had a good night's rest; British Division relieved us last night; Passed back by way of Brancourt and stopped for the night; Do not see how we came out of the affair alive after going back over the ground in the day time

Lists dates; Names; Addresses; In case of emergency notify Mrs. Robert Shook

From the service of Corporal Thomas R. Shook, Company D, 340 Machine Gun Battalion at Camp Funston, Kansas; then Machine Gun Company, 119th Regiment, 30th Division, AEF.
Date July 21, 1918 - October 20, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Shook, Thomas R.
Subjects World War I
Trench warfare
Firing squads
Artillery (Troops)
Gas warfare
Letters (Home)
Military personnel
Wounds & injuries
Prisoners of war