Guy Thayer, my father, was in college in 1917 at the University of
New Hampshire. This is his diary covering the period between 1917
and 1920. He tells of his service in World War I.
of the second semester
Within two weeks I began to seriously
think of enlisting. Paul Clark, a friend
of mine, about my age, came home and
mentioned the fact that he was thinking
of taking the same step. the deed was done. A week or more we
talked army, about the town and then went to Peterboro to
sign into the National Guard with the Mounted Machine
Gunners. Paul was accepted and I thrown down because
I was under sized (he only stood about 5 foot 2 inches tall)
and had vericocle. I kept on trying however and finally
succeeded in getting into the Med. Corps Aug. 5, 1917
at Ft. Slocum, N.Y.
On Aug. 14, 125 of us were sent to Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.
It was a two-day journey over the Penn. and Central
of Georgia RRs.
Upon arriving in Georgia, 50 of us were assigned to
Sanitary Co # N Camp Greenleaf Vt. O.<.C. The other
70 were scattered all over the states.
The Sanitary Co proved to be a service company. Our work
consisted of caring for M.R.C. Barracks, building roads,
digging latrines and draining swampy places about camp.
It was dull work to be sure but excellent for discipline and
bringing out the best and worst in our men.
On Oct 19, six of us were transferred to Quacuation
Hos. #3. The duty there proved to be much more interesting.
For a while we detested and attended lectures about hospital
work and info on sanitation. Later on we were given some
functional experience at the post hospital. ( It was at this
base that the sanitation guide lines were developed
for the trenches)
and then the men began to get anxious to be
on the move. At last the order came and
in no time the camp was filled with the
excitement of moving. All night we worked
to get our property aboard the train at Lytle,
GA. and tho next morning was Xmas morning
found us entrained for Camp Merritt, N.Y.
We spent two wonderful and disappointing weeks for me at
Wonderful in that there was practically no duties to
perform and plenty of chances to see New York City,
disappointing in that I, who so near home and yet
unable to visit my relatives.
We got our last view of the Statue of Liberty about eight o’clock
in the evening of Jan. 12 while on board the U S S Madawaska,
formerly the Kornig Wilhelam II of Hamburg, American line.
The trip was uneventful except for a heavy wind storm the sixth
day out and the sighting of a submarine on the last day. We
landed at St Lazare, France Jan. 27 and proceeded to Camp #1
about two miles out from the dock.
Five days after we set out in ten divisions, one went to Toursand,
the one I was in to Blois. What a trip it was 26 hours in tiny box
cars, 30 men to the car and no place to sleep.
Upon our arrival in Blois my detachment was sent to the Casence,
an army fort right by Napoleon III in 1863 There we were
quanitined 10 days for spinal meningitis.
When released 22 of us were sent to Hospital 13 of Camp
April 14, 1918 It has been a little over five weeks now since I
was first on night duty in Ward three, a medical ward of
Hospital 13. The first four weeks were the happiest, everything
considered, that I have spent in the last four years.
Miss White, the night nurse proved to be a royal good fellow. I
certainly enjoyed that four weeks and I did my best to make her
do the same. Now I am counting the days until it is her turn to
come on night duty again.
Miss Mechling, who is now on night duty with me seems to be
a nice girl but she cannot take Miss White’s place by any means.
A few days ago I had my first letter from Paul C. It was the first
time I have heard from him since we left home. One can imagine
how glad I was to get word that he is alive and well altho he is
doing his second trick in the trenches with the 103 M. G. Balt.
4/18/18 Had a letter from Marguerite Stunton the 16th. It was
the first in over ten weeks. I thought that she had forgotten me or
had tired of writing and I likewise was doing my best to forget her.
I might have succeeded had she not written me. But now I know
that I can not forget her, nor have I any desire to do so.
The weather continues to be dull and dreary with plenty
of rain. Have but only one pleasant day so far this month.
4/20/18 Nothing new today except that it was a fine sunshiny
day! Miss White is now on night duty at Hospital 29 so will not
likely her duty with me again. Darn the luck and how!
4/23/18 Capt McEvers succeeds Capt Johns as C.O. of Hosp. 13.
Lt Carpenter one of our ward surgeons also left.
4/24/18 Capt McEvers is beginning to tear things loose as he did
at Camp Greenleaf, when he was C.O. of Evac. #3. Has given no
night men a place to sleep at Hosp. #1. Also moved the surgical
ward over there. Have heard that the nurses are going to live
over there after Friday.
4/27/18 Another fair day but I slept until five PM so did not
see much of it. The nurses are living at Hosp.29 and we night
men are occupying their old quarters.
Was very much disappointed in not getting a letter from home
to-day. It is a little over two weeks since I received my last letter
from the states. That of course is not a long time for mail to be
delayed yet it seems as such for my mail has been coming nearly
It is rumored that a base hospital unit is about to come here and
take over our Hospital. If it does we are said to be going to
Orleans to open another Camp Hospital. Had the chance
offered me to go on day duty with the hint that I could be
wardmaster if I want the job. I don’t like to take favors of the
men who would make the place for me and also want no part
of a wardmaster job so decided to stay on night duty.
May 13, 1918 Am in Blois yet and on night duty in Ward III.
The rumor now is that we are to stay here until Sept or possibly
the first of next March.
Miss Meckling has been succeeded by Miss Egan. The only
thing I know about her is that she is heart-broken because one of
the men in the Ditch was recently sent up near the front..
Yesterday was Mother’s day. I attended church, for the first
time since last August, in a little Huguenot Church just around
the corner from the Hosp. I received communion for the first time.
Had a letter from P.C. a few days ago in which he tried to tell me
that I was lucky to get into the Med Dept. I doubt very much if he
really knows what it is to be in the S.O.R. or how it feels to be an
orderly when ones expected to be nothing less than chief chemist
in some immense U.S. lab. C’est l’guerre. He writes that life might
be comfortable in the trenches if it were not for the mud and water.
But his good old Uncle Sam has helped matters greatly by issuing
rubber boots which reach to the hips.
May 17, 1918 three good days and two of them made good use of.
On the 15th Melton Schilosser and I walked out to a little town 7
K distant. Saw some wonderful country and several “birds”.
Yesterday we visited an old French cemetery where seven Am.
Ex/p men are buried. It is quaint old place surrounded by a high
stone wall. The French bodies are placed one above the other in
very deep graves. Many of them have little chapels or shrines
built above them.
Have a new nurse on to-night. Miss Egan got sick of her job and
succeeded in getting relief.
3/21/18 Was made private 1st class on the 16th and the notice
of promotion was published the 18th. Yesterday was my 21st
Birthday. How little I expected to spend it in France. Two of my
patients came in drunk and one of them was sure some sick to his
stomach. To-day the two of them had to spend 4 hrs in the
dungeon under Hosp. #1.
June 6, 1918 Miss Nickols, Miss Egans relief stays about a
week and then Miss Egan came back on the job. She goes off
Wed and Miss Mechling comes on again.
July 1, 1918 Turned our hospital at Blois over to Base Hosp. #43
7/8/18 Left Blois. The Poulain chocolate factory burned last
night. The alarm was given just in time to prevent a free for all
between the Eng. outfit and our men.
7/10/18 Took up our quarters in Kimerricourt. 7/17/18
Did our first cootie inspection yesterday. Have been having foot
and gas mask drill each Sunday.
Miss White did not come with us. She was ordered back to her
base together with all but six of the nurses that were with us.
Aug. 28, 1918 Arrived at La Ferto Milou where we set up our
hospital the 29th of July. On Aug. 4 we started to move to
Crezancy. finished moving on the 7.
Last Thursday night two German planes passed near us but
did not trouble us at all.
Have been working in the receiving wards nights since we came
here. Have helped handle about 3,000 cases of gas and wounds.
Last two nights have not had many patients. Hope it continues
tho same for a quiet time assures us that not many are wounded
Aug 30, 1918 Left Crezancy Aug 20 and reached our next hospital
about 2 A.M. Aug 22. Moved from Evac #1 to our present site
outside Toul hospital 25. Have received no wounded as yet.
We have wored to set (then I can’t read the next word or two)
carring for ( can’t make it out) four corps (and can’t read the
last line .)
I recently received word that Paul Clark was in the hospital but
has now been returned to duty. Did not learn wheather he was
wounded, gassed or was sick. I wish that he would write as the
first letter which he wrote me was dated April 26.
Col Lampson left us at Crezancy and Major took his place as
C.O. At present we have about 400 men at present and 71 murses.
It is rumored that ( and then I can’t read it —declared A —–
Med Dept —-a –for its other —wants of the service) I think
some times that I would like to transfere to Pauls Co except I think
that the best way to get there is to go there ___ and that the best
of everything first as it comes along.
Sept 5, 1918 Working in the same place but on day duty. Life
is the same old round except that it has rained for the last two days.
Haven’t received any mail for so long that I have forgotten what
an U.S. Postage stamp looks like.
Sept. 18, 1918 Getting ready to move again. The drive started
last Thursday. We had our usual run of patients until they
began to come in with gas, gangrene and our business stops
then and we got our orders to pack things strongly for a long
Got a bunch of mail in the last week but have had no time to
answer it. Letter from J.S.W. saying that she was rather tired
of her base and would like to be detached duty again.
Sept 21/18 La Place de Fleures Sur Aire The station being
On the 19th we packed our equipment. Yesterday our trucks
came in and we loaded at once. Left Toul about 1 PM coming
thru Void and Bar le Ducand reaching this camp about 2 AM.
The last of our trucks were unloaded about 9 this morning.
Was called out for guard at 2:30 this afternoon so had very
This is one of the most out of the way places which we have got
stuck. There is no town within five miles and no passes are
allowed to it. The only thing to it is the rail center and French
This PM we saw our first big guns. They broke thru on flat on
their way to the Verdun sector.
Things are going rather rotten at present. About half of the men
are really working and the rest are laying down on the job. Those
that do work are continually ridden in an attempt to get them to do
more. But why complain it is my fault that I don’t beat detail the
way some do. A chance will come sometime for me to get out of
the company and I think that I will jump at it. Wish that I night
get into Paul’s outfit.
We got rid of our nurses at Toul but have their baggage with us
as we expect to have them with us again as soon as we find a safe
place to stay in.
Guess I’ll have to take forty winks before I go on post again.
9/22/18 That 24 hours guard duty is tough and I am mighty
glad of it for it is raining hard. Have got to help get our
quarters in shape this P.M,
. It will be some job for there are to be 75 of us in a building
about 90″ X 20″. That is not all that will be here for many of
the French beds which we are to use have straw ticks on them
and straw in this part of the country is another word for cooties.
I think right now that I have about sixteen of the friendly beggars
in my possession.
9/23/18 Another day. Have done nothing but help straighten
out our equipment and throw out what we con’t need. Had a
letter from Florence Wheeler (a class mate from Wilton High
School) She expects to go back to Pitsburg, N.H. this winter.
Preperations are still going on for the drive in this sector. More
big guns and many men sent up today. some of the men have
been in the service only seven weeks. They got their first gas
mask drill while laying over here for a couple hours.
9/27/18 A rainy day but the sun is shining now. Got a letter
from home yesterday saying that Emil Dion (a friend from
Harrisville,N.H.) had been gassed in the Chateau Thiery drive
and that Forrest Thayer (a cousin from Haverhill, N.H.) has
been shell shocked. Have done nothing since we came here but
move our property about and help A.R.C. Hosp. 114 get started.
The drive on this front started night before last. Our troops
advanced but todays rain probably checked them some. So far
the casualities have not been as numeraous as in other advances.
Just now recieved orders to have out barrack’s bags ready to
move out at a moments notice. We will probably leave within
72 hours. No more strenuous work for 114. Am glad to be on the
move again. We will soon be on the job again receiving and caring
for the wounded again.
9/29/18 Moved into pup tents yesterday morning. Was put on a
litter bearing detail about 8AM. Worked on that job until 7 PM
and then worked in the operating until 10 P.M. It rained during
the night and a nice little pond of water formed on my blankets.
I managed to keep dry by rolling into one position for the rest of
the night. Many of the tents came down because the pins wouldn’t
hold in the muddy ground. Tonight I think I will crawl into some
corner about this building and get a good nights rest.
The lines are advancing again. Many prisoners are being taken
and Bulgarier is asking for a truce with peace as an object. That
news sounds good for it may indicate an end of hostilities by
Xmas. Hope we move up the lines before long.
10/1/18 Am writing in a box car at Flemy while waiting for the
train to start. We are loaded and are on the move again. There
are almost forty of us. Imagine 40 men in a little more than twice
a side door pullman. All of them have very muddy feet. Each one
is trying to clean them on some some guy near him. The engine
was just hooked on.
We have worked hard all day on small rations but that doesn’t
affect the spirits of the men. They are singing and laughing. No
matter how hard life is or how much we may have to complain
about the fact that we are on the move makes everyone happy.
The only light we have is a candle and that casts a shadow on my
pages so that I might as well be writing in the dark. At l.ast we
have left A R C Evac Hosp. 114. Some how we did not work very
well with them. For the last three days have been carrying patients
from the x-ray to the operating tables from 7 a.m. to 7 PM. and
helping little operating room from 7 P.M. to 11 P.M or 2 A.M.
Have seen some horrible wounds. One of the men who came in
last night had no lower jaw and only part of his upper jaw and
nose. The train has started so had better stop. Have no idea
where we are going or when we will get there.
7/10/18 – Oct 7/18 Landed at Curperly on the morning of the
2nd. Proceeded to set up and get to work. The first two nights
I worked in the walking wounded tents, nice then have been in
the operating room working on the select team. Am on duty 18
hrs and off 6. It seems as if the whoole second division has gone
thru our hospital. They were relieved today. Like the work and
hope that they keep me at it.
11/12/18 Lost my job in the operating Room. A wardmaster
was need so I was put on the job last night. Went to Suippes
yesterday P.M. Not much to see. The town was shelled some
time ago. Evac 18 came in last night.
10/14/18 Have had a two day rest. No patients have yet been sent
to my ward since E.H. 18 came so have done nothing but cart and
sleep. Yesterday I stayed in bed nearly all day and expect to do the
same to-day. Day before yesterday I walked to La Cheppe.
Nothing of interest there except a de-lousing station. Yesterday’s
papers stated that the Germans have accepted Pres. Wilson’s
peace terms and are evacuating Alsace – Loraine and Belgiar in
17 hrs. I hope it is true for if it is some of the boys will be home by
X-mas. I hope that I may be home by Aug. 18.
A few days ago we put in a request for 50 prisoners. 53 were
sent to us and now we have 56. Where the last 3 came from is
more than anyone can tell. One tried to desert froma beasly
French Hosp. beside our outfit. I suppose the reason is that we
at least treat them well. They have to work hard but are given
good quarters and eat the same mess as the enlisted men.
Am very extravagent this morning. Am burning two candles
to keep me tent warm. Imagine two soldiers living in a house
small enough to be warmed by two candles. However we
manage very well. Sometimes we have a hard time to keep
it dry after about 6 days rain but have managed to do so, so far.
We have blankets enough to keep warm. There is no straw for
a bed but the ground is even and fairly comfortable especially
with about four blankets doubled and put under us.
Some of the boys lead a miserable life in tents. They never
ditch them and always a wet floor both in wet and dry weather.
When ever it rains they forget to put something up at the front
and let their blankets get wet. That means a cold miserable life
for them until the sun comes out. We have not experienced a
snow storm yet. But I feel certain that in half a day or two men
could fix a shelter with which they could live during a fairly
Yesterday morning it became known that two of the nurses were
AWOL. On their return they were put under armed guard
pending Court Martial. Whenever one of them wishes to leave
the tent she has to go with a man with gun over her shoulder
behind her. It pleases a lot of the boys to find that they are not
the only ones who suffer when caught going AWOL.
Oct 19,1918 Still resting. Have had just one patient since the
first night. Now my ward is full of officers from Evac 18 so all
I have to do is eat, sleep, and keep out of the “tops”sight.
Yesterday at 11 o’clock John Schlosser and I started on a little
trip. At 1 o’clock we were at Somme Bionne having passed throu
Sneppes, Somme-Snippes and Somme-Thorbe a distance of
about 29K. Were back in camp at 3 o’clock. To-day I went to
La Cheppe and wrote a couple of letters at the Y.M.C.A. Have
not had a letter from home for so long that I have forgotten what
a post mark looks like.
Yesterday we had orders to pack up. Last night the order was
resinded. Perhaps the men higher up expect the war to be over
before we could move and set up again. Am still living in”pup”
tents. Am having a fine time keeping warm and dry in there.
Am succeeding very well.
The C.O. has given us a tent (ward) to gather in evenings and
when off duty. The Red Cross Captain donated a victrola and
a number of records. Between that and three footballs the boys
manage to take the monotony somewhat out of life.
The one great inconvience of living in “pup tents” is the
scarcesity of water. The only water we get we have to carry
about two blocks in a pail and after we get it, it is so cold that
it doesn’t start the dirt. We usually sleep in our clothes so don’t
notice it much if we don’t happen to wash before breakfast.
Sept 21, 1918 A fair day at last. Was up for dinner to-day.
Something unusual for me. Our Germans and about 50 of our
men went up the line this PM to get our next camp ready for us.
The rest of us will probably leave in ablut three days. Hope we
get some mail before then. Haven’t had any since I left Fleury.
The days go slowly when one gets no mail to break the
monotony. Haven’t been paid yet this month so have not
been able to go to Chalous yet.
I understand that we are to go into winter quarters soon. I hope
the rumor is true for 4 months in pup tents is quite enough.
Yet somehow I like the life. As long as the mess continues
excellant and we are allowed what blankets we need we can lead
a comfortable life. it takes about two hours to make a water tight
tent and if we can find some straw that isn’t full of cooties one can
lead the life of “Reilly”
10/22/18 Started packing this morning but first got orders
to stop packing. No one seems to know why. Perhaps the war
Still rainy weather. it seems as if it could do something but
Started to move again. Pulled down some tents yesterday and
more to-day. Most of our operating teams have left. Some say that
we are going to a base. I hope so. Had two letters from home, two
from Miss Garland, one from Marguerite, two from Doris Story
and one from Maxwell Spually. Was surprised to hear from
Spually as I had heard that he was preported missing last May.
Nov 4, 1918 Moved from pup tents into yard tents using
stretchers for beds. Have packed all our equipment. Austria
signed an armistice yesterday and Turkey on the first so time for
us to go home is approaching. Hope it is not too long.
Am not working very hard at present just stalling around and
doing necessary details. The Germans do most of the camp work.
Yesterday morning dug in and to-day had to fill up the hole
I dug. C’est la Guerreir. Believe we have set up for the last time.
11/11/18 Left Caiberty the 9th and landed in Souhenarue
la Graisle on the 10th. The Armistice was signed yesterday at
11 o’clock. At present we are in barracks and have very little to
do. Fatigue call is at 9 A.M.
Had some trip into here. There were 26 in my car yet it was cold.
Have had a cold for about three weeks so spent a poor night altho
I had two blankets and a shelter half to use. Heard last night that
Pauls regement is at Verdun which is about 12 Kilo from here.
Will try to see him in a day or so.
11/19/18 Went to Verdun on the 12th to see Paul. His company
was not there. A few of the Y.D ( Yankee Division) were there
going on leave. The Y.D. is now marching into Germany. A
few nights ago the nurses wanted a dance so the C.O. ordered
the men out of one of their barracks and to clean it for the
dance. While cleaning the boys sprinkled two boxes of pepper
about. The lights went out a few times so the dance was almost
a failure. Another dance was held last night but it was in the
officers mess hall.
This morning High Military Mass was said in the Cathedral
of Verdun. It was the first service in four years. Many of the
Today we started drilling again. hope we get home soon for I
have done all the drilling I wish to do. Setting up exercises are to
be resumed to-morrow.
11/24/18 Went to Souilly yesterday and got some American
chocolates. the first I have had since leaving Cregancy.
11/29/18 On guard again. This is the second time on since here.
Have had bad weather for three days so have had an easy pleasant
job on hand.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving but how different from others.
12/3/18 Moving again. Raining as usual. Don’t expect to fall
out tonight. Going to referly, 30 men, 15 officers and 20 nurses
were at it yesterday. Have an American train to travel. The first
since being in France. Will probably make the trip in about half
the time it would take a Frog outfit. We are not homeward
bound yet. We are leaving France, that will be some
consolodation anyhow . Have enjoyed as much as possible the
time we have been in France but now that hostilities have ceased
I am very glad to be leaving.
Dec 5-18 Souilly. Loaded at Vadeliu Court and pulled out this
PM. After laying over in the yard 18 hours. The car I am in is
about 1/3 full of electric light equipment, carpenter tools, and
the dental equipment. There are ten other men. six of them
have cots and the rest of us are sleeping on mattresses laid on
coffin covers which are placed over the top of the equipment to
make a level place. We also have a stove in the car and plenty of
hospital blankets so are living like princes.
Our train of about 35 cars is said to be the first entriely
American train to enter German Territory. At present we are
waiting for the tracks to be cleared and a derailment so that we
may go on.
At times it seems like hard luck to have to go into Germany while
divisions like the 76th which has been over about 3 months is on
its way to the states. And then again I am glad to go. If I only get
home by May 1 I will be satisfied.
Dec 11-18 Landed at Treves last Sunday evening. Wored all night
in loading and hauling our eqyip. to the Von Horn Barracks where
we are stationed. Have good quarters and a good hospital. Most
of the cases are Influ. and flat feet together with a few Ortites and
minor surgical cases. The people here are not openly antognistic
while many of them really seem glad to see the Americans come
in. On the other hand they hate the sight of an English or French
soldier. We have several German women working for us about
the hospital and in the kitchen.
Have been put in charge of the second floor in the hospital
building. Have twelve wards and seven ward men. Only two
of the wards have over twelve beds.
There is much speculation as to the length of time Evac 3 will
be in Germany. Some set the period as long as eight months
while others put it as low as five weeks. I wonder who will win
the money. I only hope I am home by the first of August next.
Have had three days bad weather. Hope the sky clears soon.
it hardly seems possible however that it is nearly the middle of
Dec. for there is no frost what ever in the ground nor are the
nights at all cold. it is this infernal dampness in the atmosphere
which makes one uncomfortable. I thought when we left France
that I had seen about the last of it but surely I was mistaken.
When we took over the post we found a large number of leather
helmets wich the Germans at one time had ready for dress parade
in Paris. Now I have one fo them ready to send home for a dress
parade of souveniers. C’est la Geurre.
‘ 1/21/19 Am yet in Treve at the same old job. Have made a few
trips into the city for souveniers.
Two of the pictures in the booklet that he bought in Germany. Had some pictures taken today. Expect to be on the way home soon. 1/27/19 Had about 1/2 inch of snow last night. It is the first since we have been in Germany. Hope it is the last.
A week ago to-day Mq Elroy, the first man to die out of our outfit was burried. 2/14/19 Expect our relief to-day. Ger. Pershing will probably be here to-morrow to inspect the place and we will pull out on Sunday or Monday. It hardly seems possible that we are about to start for home. 2/15/19 Our relief came in to-night. Ger Perching however, did not make his inspection. Don’t know just when we will leave but expect that it will not be morethan three days. 3/30/19 Left Treves on the 28th. Had not done any hospital work since 2/21/19. All out side police. We are riding in box cars, 16 to our car and having a fine trip. Am at Gievres now waiting for a new engine and crew. Expect to reach Brest about Tuesday. One of the boys just bought some eggs and fried them up for us. The first I have had since just after leaving Trier. Was rather sorry to leaveTrier but I certainly wouldn’t stay when I have a chance to go home. 4/8/19 Land in Brest about 2 A.M. April 1 and march out to Camp Pontanegen immediately. Am at that camp yet patiently(not by a —–)waiting for our turn to sail. Have passed all of our inspections in first class condition. Have been doing detail work about camp most of the time. Am resting to-day after working last night. Ran on to the vanguard of the Y.D. Divion there but did not see Paul Clark. Expect the 42nd Division soon. Left Brest Sat April 12, 1919. Landed in New York April 20 and went to Camp Dixfor discharge. Got my papers April 24 and reach home the next day.