This A. M. we got up at 7:30 and after breakfast, got together all our belongings for we were ordered to change camps. So at 10:30 every boy in our camp had his things together and at this hour, this section broke up. We came down to the other side of the village here (20 of us, Pete luckily included) and moved into the barracks where Erney was first and which Archie has just left. I am now in Groupement 526 Section C, Barracks 6 and the boys are fine. But as soon as you receive this you had better not try and write me any more for I shall probably be home before they would reach me.
Well we had dinner (the food is much better than at our old camp) and got settled. Pete and the bunch and I went up the Y. M. C. A. for awhile but came back in time for supper. After supper we sat around the fire (we have a stove in the barracks and believe me, it is comfortable) till time for movies at the Y. M. C. A. but as we were going up, we saw a red glare in the sky so we went over to the next town L. and saw a barn on fire caused by some careless soldiers in the straw from pipe or cigarette lighting. After a good movie show we came home and turned in. Georgey Pratt was put in another section but as he had no bed he slept under me after we made a sort of mattress of my heavy coat, sweaters, bags, etc. Anyway he says the boards were hard just the same. Bed 11:00."
Up at 9:00. Touched up the car a bit. Went over to see Chaunce Hood [Dartmouth class of 1918] as his time was up today and he is leaving for home. Also hope you can see or hear from him again when he arrives. Today a Frenchman came up to buy stuff and as I have only a month more I sold my rubber boots for 15 francs. I bought them for 20 you know so as I had worn them quite a bit I figured that I had made a rather good bargain. After supper, hung around. Bed 10:30."
Thank goodness we got a days rest today, but we were informed we should put back our tops on again, but we didnt do a drop of work today because we were so tired we could not see straight. Anyway we had our day of repose which was due us day before yesterday. We slept, ate, read and slept today, and at night had a camp-fire out in the middle of our "campus." All of us around here surely did have a spectre of old war times. We sang till 9:30 then all turned in."
Up at 9 and turned around my camion [truck] only to find out that at 12 we were to leave again. This time we went up to L. north of S. where we loaded 6 camions with trench bombs. L. here is a little town on a high plateau overlooking S. and we lugged away these bombs from here to S. as they were left over in the late attack. We got to S. about 6:30 and here we unloaded in a place on the grounds of the chateau which the editor of the Figaro gave to Madam Cailloux who shot him--you remember the big murder case in Paris just before the war. Here we had to wait without supper till the slow pinard-drunk corvés here unloaded us. Then we "shot" for camp and had our supper: sore at the new and inefficient, slack chef. Then too tired for more, Bed 8:45."
Got up at 7 to leave at 8 to transport troops. This took us way up to A. north of our training camp which I was glad to see again as we passed through, tho' instead of green leaves and verdure of our training days, all the trees were painted reds, brown, and yellows and the effect was wonderful. I wish you could see how beautiful the common bunches of mistletoe look as they stand out on the tall trees among the dead falling leaves and bare branches. When the berries grow out I will try to collect some."
[This diary entry has been abridged because it contains contains content some people may find offensive. The full entry is available for viewing at Rauner Special Collections Library.]
John Hale Chipman did not compose a diary entry on October 31, 1917, and so we'll catch up with him tomorrow. For today, you can see what John and some of his fellow Dartmouth servicemen looked like in May of 1917 when they posed for a photo on the steps of Webster Hall before heading overseas. Interestingly, Webster Hall now houses Rauner Special Collections Library where you can find John Hale Chipman's diary and photograph album containing the image below.
I was called at 6:30 this morning and it was a wonderful day, believe me. We had an order to take our tops off so after a light breakfast we took off our camion [truck] tops and started for a town B. the farthest point south we've ever been. The whole trip was through wonderful country and I certainly enjoyed the views of beautiful "untouched" France. B. was a little town where Americans had been almost unseen for we were surrounded by children asking "Etes-vous Americains?" We bought some chocolate and some few cookies for 70¢ but it was good and different anyway. Then we proceeded into the woods just outside of B. where we were loaded with (facines) bundles of shrubs for load building. From here we went through the city the name of which was censored in my former letter (S). There we went down to M. east of S. where some 200 newly captured Germans unloaded us. Here we started for home about 4:45 but I ran out of gasolene so had to stop and fill just as it started to rain. Well, I got on but I stopped at the railroad station near S--s and took on two women and little boy who were going to a hospital about four kilometers up to see their son-father-husband. He had been wounded in the recent attack so I helped them on even in my joggling camion as it was their only means of travel in the rain. I got them to the hospital and showed them in and after I had located their man for them, started out again for the camp where I arrived about 6:30 but turned in at 8."
Up at 8 and filled up the car with "essence"--gas, then after dinner at 2 left for B. to take rondins [logs] to S. same place as yesterday. Was anxious to see the ruins of rocketboxes but they had all been raked up and the boxes of ammunition we piled up at greater intervals.
This trip was unexciting so far as being used as a target was concerned. While I was here I had the opportunity of examining another big 155 gun, hidden in a sort of grotto on the side of a field and covered with camouflage. Here we talked with the French "tireurs"--firers until the other cars were emptied then we came back for supper. After supper we played cards till Bed 11:30. The offensive is over now so the guns are silent at last."
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."