Henry Kindig diary
April-May 1918
June-July 1918
August-September 1918
October-November 1918
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April-May entries

June 1918

June 1
Majors inspection of troops and billett (sic).
June 2
Played St. Aignan team base ball. Score USMC 4 - St. Aig. 0 - 2 home runs.
June 3
Drilled all day. Lt. Church informed us he was leaving for front. Tried my best to go with him but requisition did not go through. Have been promised that I can go with next bunch. Read of Marines wonderful victories and I am dying to go.
June 4
Heavy marching order drill all day under Bob White. Bed early.
June 5
Dr. Farmer gave an interesting lecture on Joan of Arc. Filled up on oranges and cake and went to bed.
June 6
My chance has come. Fouke, Puffer and I are going to the front immediately. Turned in sea bags. Coit left for school and was broken hearted that he could not go with us.
June 7
Drilled all day. Word passed that we are leaving tomorrow.
June 8
Up 4 A.M. - Left 4:30 A.M. Hiked to Selles-Sur-Cher and boarded cattle cars on Paris-Orleans railroad. Passed through Vierzon, Orleans, and Noisy Le Sec. Beautiful country. Pulled in yards on outskirts of Paris for the night.
June 9
Disembarked at Maux. Long line of French peasants arriving at fugitive camp. Dreadful sight. Ate chow and slept until 4:30 P.M. Took 30 kil. Camion ride to Montreal aux Lion. Hear first gun shots. Now under shell fire for first time. Marched to Brigade Hdqts. Assigned to 83rd Co. 6th. Reg. and prepared for action. Marched along Paris-Metz road and many Heine shells fell around us. Did not bother me much. Terrific cannonading during night. Fouke and I slept together.

June 1918, Belleau Wood Map

June 10
Under heavy shell fire all day. Raining and cold. Weird night. Germans shot flares continuously.
June 11
Arrived in support positions. Germany shelling very heavy. Had orders to dig in. Only tools were bayonet and my hands. When I got a hole big enough to lay in I found all my fingers were bleeding. A 156 pounder hit two feet from my hole and killed three fellows and wounded four. The concussion from the shell broke my wrist watch. Was covered with dirt and rocks but not hurt. Lucky escape.
June 12
Heavily shelled 3 A.M. Advanced to front lines. Took several German prisoners.

June 13
Were strengthened by another replacement Btln. Rather quiet day.
June 14
Germans changed reliefs. Some action on right flank. Stood off German attack. Buddman killed by shrapnel. Chow and water detail shot up so we were out of luck for both. All nerves and tired out and looking for relief.
June 15
Rainy. Were relieved by French under heavy shell fire. It was necessary to use gas masks. Heavy rain of shrapnel over head. Hard long hike to reserve position. Ate first warm chow in four days at 2:30 A.M. Rec'd letters of congratulations from Gen. Foch and Pershing saying "Am proud of my Marines. Best fighting division ever." Gen. Pershing promises a surprise. What will it be?
June 16
Slept late. We were pretty well shattered. Spent day cleaning and shaving. The first time in a week that I had that opportunity.
June 17
Platoon reorganization following our terrific losses. Lots of boys missing.
June 18
Rested all day. Germans shot over gas shells in evening but did not reach us thanks to the wind.
June 19
Up 2 A.M.  Marched to Montreauil aux Lion and to St. Audde for bath in Marne. Stopped at Pesselont during rain and saw old French woman who had lost her entire family in war. Pitiful sight. Marched back to dugouts at night and found we had two inches of water as a mattress.
June 20
Woke up soaked through and through and not change of clothes. Looks at though we will go to the front again soon.
June 21
Made up packs for another cruise at front. 7th Inf. fell back 700 yards and it's up to us to regain it. We're the boys to do it. Hiked to support position behind Lucy La Bocage at night in heavy rain and under heavy shell fire. 3 Casualties. Fouke and I in same dug out again.
June 22
Slept in dug out all day now that we are working in night. Germans attacked as we went into position and we stopped them. Terrific barrage. Hundreds of dead laying in woods. Terrible sight. Fouke, Entsminger, Tetley, Erickson, Shattuck and I in small trench with not room enough for two. Absolutely no chance for sleep.
June 23
Over top at day break. My first experience. It sure was hell. Regained the 700 yds. but had heavy casualties. Was fortunate to come thru. Germans counter-attacked three times but we repulsed them inflicting heavy casualties. Their bombardments shook us to death but only wounded a few of our men. Shell broke Thompson's leg and I helped carry him to first aid station under heavy bombardment. Returned to front lines again at dark.
June 24
Terrific German bombardment at 3:30 P.M. Was on wire detail to Lucy at night. Escaped with one casualty.
June 25
Slept all day in dug out. Was detailed to go "over the top" with 5th Reg. at 5 P.M. as Laison (sic) man. Drove Germans out of Belleau Woods taking 300 prisoners. The woods were filled with German and American dead. Again I came thru but the Lord only knows how. Returned to the Co. with desired information. Nearly starved and about played out.
June 26
Took up advanced position with Sgt. Fadden and Shattuck to look for German prisoners from the day before. Found three and turned them over at Battalion Hdqts. Looking forward for relief.
June 27
Slight bombardment during day. Quiet night. No relief in sight.
June 28
Sent out to look for German spy thought to be dressed in our Red Cross uniform. Took two suspects to Btn. Hdqts. but they turned out to be Marines. Night very foggy. Could not see two ft. ahead. Was sent to Btn. Hdqts. to make report and fell in ravine landing on Maj. Sibley. He looked up and said "well young man if you get off my shoulders maybe we can talk this thing over." Fellows nearly died when I told them.
June 29
Patrolled all day. Relieved at 10:30 P.M. and walked through terrific bombardment. Jumped in dug out and landed on dead man. This sure is a hell hole if there ever was one. Took us two hours and a half to go 500 yds. Shelling ceased and we finally reached reserve position. Ate first warm meal since June 20th and went in dug out for a sleep. Fouke and I bunking together. Nerves all gone and worn out completely.
June 30
Laid in woods all day getting a much needed rest.

July 1918

July 1.
Rested in woods all day.
July 2
Started early in morning for a bath in the Marne. Stayed there all day and returned to woods at night in driving rain. Dug out filled with water. This sure is going thru hell in every form.
July 3
Soaked and no change of clothes.
July 4
Y.M.C.A. finally opened up their hearts and gave us some cakes and chocolate. Had a chance to write home for a change. Boxing, singing etc. at night.
July 5
Packed up for hike and stood all night in the cold. Almost froze.
July 6
Finally got started at 6:30 A.M and hiked 3 kil. to another woods. Were relieved by 26th Div. We are now in reserve of French. Guess they can't feel safe without us. (Page 15-14) citation book.)
July 7
Rested all day.
July 8
Moved to Nanteuil on Marne, a beautiful town in Marne valley. It's a wonderful sensation to finally get out of woods and sleep under a roof. Bed early.
July 9
Took a swim in Marne. Fellows put on a good entertainment at night.
July 10
Rested in billetts (sic) all day and went to bed early.
July 11
Move up to support position. No rest for Marines.
July 12
Lain in rain all day and dug trenches all night. A wonderful life if you don't weaken.
July 13
Rested all day after a hard night's work. Dug trenches all night.
July 14
Rested all day and dug trenches until 12:30 A.M. then went to bed. Ha. Ha.
July 15
Rested all day and all night. Quite a change.
July 16
Rush order to move to another sector to start big offensive to shock troops. Marched to trucks and loaded at 10:30 P.M. Rode all night.
July 17
Rode until 3:30 P.M. and made a forced march of 25 kil. through mud and rain and reached support position at 3 A.M. Rolled up in blanket in three inches of water and slept until 4:30 A.M. Was awakened by terrific barrage and in a few hours thousands of prisoners rolled in taken by the 5th Reg. They suffered many casualties but had wonderful success. Moved up to make an attack in A.M. Slept in woods under terrific shell fire.

[Battle of Soissons, July 18-22, 1918]

July 19
"Over the top" at 8:00 A.M. no barrage. Fouke wounded was only two feet away from me when hit. Dressed his wound and got stretcher bearer to take him off field. I was one of the six men left in rear wave when we reached objective. Dug in with McCarroll. Nearly dead for water and food so Parks and I volunteered to go for water. Found water in ravine where hundreds of dead were laying. Finally reached front again with water after forming a good target for German snipers and machine gunners. Hit twice on the blouse and once on my cartridge belt with bullets. How I ever escaped this day is a mystery to me. The field was a living hell. 60% Cas.
July 20
Relieved by French at 2:30 A.M. They would not take up our positions. Walked through a heavy concentration of mustard gas but it didn't get any of us. Stopped in woods to rest for night. Fellows nerves gone and all hungry, tired and dirty. A German prisoner broke loose and turned a captured cannon on us killing two men and wounding twenty.
July 21
Hiked 25 kil. to reserve position. A hard hike but thank God we are marching away from shells for awhile. Men all in for want of rest and food.
July 22
Washed and shave and had two hot meals. Feeling much better but the reaction on my nerves drives me nuts.
July 23
Up at 6 A.M. Packed up and stood all day but did not move. Sent out burial party.
July 24
Up at 6:30 A.M. Packed up and moved off at 8 A.M. Not enough men left in sixth reg. to fill up one batt. Hiked 16 kil. and stopped in woods all night.
July 25
Up at 5:30 A.M. Hiked 13 kil. to Nanteuil. Slept in billet for a change.
July 26
Raining. Bought fruit, heard band concert and slept.
July 27
Drilled in A.M. Took bath and went to bed.
July 28
Played ball and went to bed. Guess I'll never make up for lost sleep.
July 29
Hiked to aviation field and looked over the planes that flew over us on the 19th. The pilots sure congratulated us.
July 30
Up at 6 A.M. Had inspection and prepared for two day box car ride.
July 31
Up 3 A.M. Went to station had chow and pulled out at 11 A.M.

August-September entries