My Grandfather’s Words: Wednesday May 15, 1918 Part B


Our tent was in a row about 30 to 35 rods long and there were thirty four tents in it. (A rod is a measurement that was commonly used by farmers in those days. A rod is 16.5′.) At the head of the company street was the mess hall and kitchen. It was quite a long building. At one end was the kitchen and a kind of counter where they dished up the food and placed it on each mess plate as we passed by in line. The main part of the building was given up to two long board tables with stationary benches built on each side. It could seat almost the whole company at once.

At the other end of company street there was the company bath house, a frame building with board floors and open drains behind it to carry out the waste. It had about eight showers and just behind those were the latrine. We were forbidden to leave the company street or use any other latrine or bath house.

Around five they lined us up for supper. I soon joined. Several were crowding and jostling at the front of the line until the corporal called them down pretty sharply. They thus lined up and went in one by one. We got our chow and sat at the table to eat. When we were done we went out. Nearby there was an incinerator where all refuse was burned. All slop was boiled away in two large pans sitting atop the incinerator. We had to scrape our leftovers into garbage pails set along company street. All of this was an experience for me. We had to leave by the back door of the mess hall and take out kits to two large pails of hot water to wash. The water was pretty dirty before many had used it. Some of us went down to the bath house to wash our tins.

I don’t know how, but I got back to the tent with my washed tins. Everyone growled at the warm water we had to drink and at the heat. It was hot.

One of the men in my tent, James Howard, did not get a cot. The one he had received earlier in the day was broken. He had taken it right back to the first tent, which was the orderly room. He was promised another by the morning so had to sleep on the floor that night. This was the same man who had done so much yelling on the way down. He seemed somewhat subdued this night. They told us lights must be out at nine, but I guess I was already asleep by then. I was so tired I could have slept anywhere despite the heat and everything. Each tent had electric light, too. (I forget to set things down in sequence at times.)

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