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A Daily Diary of the Great War — October 28, 1917

By John Hale Chipman, Class of 1919

Setting remorques (trailers) on position prior to occupation: Busby (Princeton)
Setting remorques [trailers] on position prior to occupation: Busby (Princeton)
"October 28, Sunday, Fair but muddy.

Up at 6:30 and out of here at 7 for a double trip with 4 camions [trucks]. We loaded at B. with rondins [logs] and unloaded at another B. Then we went to another parc de génie [engineer park] at the same town and loaded with small boards for the trenches. Here we got stuck in a ditch but we soon got out after we harnessed up two camions [trucks] to pull us out (8 to ten tons). Then we left here about 12 o'clock for S. some 20 kilometers distant. This is a very interesting spot and I'll tell you all the information not permitted in letters when I get home. But on our way to S. we had to roll over some terrible roads just swimming with mud and in trying to pass along ammunition trains I guess we got stuck six or seven times on the sides of the roads. In one hole I got up up to the hubs and when I was getting out a staff car came up and stopped right in front of me before I could tell the fool driver my car was in difficult trouble and liable to balk. I asked him to draw back a bit but being too lazy or otherwise, he stubbornly staid where he was. Well when old No. 6 gave her last plunge to get out of her difficulty, she just made a jump at the staff car and gave it a broken mud guard and step for its obstinacy. So the driver got his just medicine, tho' I didn't give it to him intentionally. My car wasn't hurt (10 tons against 1 is no match--no wonder I won) so we proceeded to S. and unloaded there. We got there after the others had left and  as we were eating the lunch the chef left for us we heard three whines in the aid, almost indistinct at first then growing louder, and accompanied with a rush of air, then we heard an awful bang and saw three flashes of fire about 150 yards away. It was then we realized these arrivées were meant for the park where we were standing. A little later we had another taste of it but believe me after our first taste we immediately ate the rest of our grub, hastily filled our gas tanks and beat it but just as we headed on our road home we heard a similar rush and thunder of shells which this time hit their mark. No sooner had the shells exploded above us then I saw a regular 4th of July celebration. A box of signal skyrockets and fusées, having been hit, started flashing and worming their way into the black sky. First a sputter, then a flaky tail of fire shot up into the night only to burst out into 3, 4, 5, or 6 balls of crimson, green or blue. Upward, on the ground and at all angles the rocket shot striking fresh boxes which immediately ignited. We had to stop and watch it for it was so sudden and wonderful, tho' it wasn't till afterwards that we realized that, had the guns which started this treat for us, been aimed just a fraction of an inch to the right and fired,--well we probably now would be in a position to write books on the "world we left behind." Anyway we wanted to get nearer so we kept on the road straight ahead and as we approached we could see that a whole section of boxes had been destroyed and lay in read smouldering ashes throwing out a radiating glow on on a back-ground of darkness. Believe me, it was some sight.

After we scratched along this road to O. we branched off and took our road home, getting to bed about 11:00 o'clock, some tired but having witnessed one of the rarest of experiences."

October 28, 1917 (1 of 3)
October 28, 1917
(1 of 3)
October 28, 1917 (2 of 3)
October 28, 1917
(2 of 3)

 

 

 

October 28, 1917 (3 of 3)
October 28, 1917
(3 of 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To see the actual diary, come to Rauner Special Collections Library in Webster Hall and ask to see MS-1229 during normal hours of operation.

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