George Ludovic Alexander:
World War One Diary


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G.L. Alexander,
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1919

Jan 1    1919
Little did I ever expect a perfectly good New Years to slip up on me in a place like this. Am still in the same hog-pen -- with no civilization within miles and miles. All that we see - in a few small villages that have been totally shot off the map - since 1914.

No work - a fairly good dinner - my last bottle of wine - and a few whoops as the old year gave place to the New -- is all that marked the event.

Jan 4
To day marks quite an event -- namely -- we moved camp. We had looked forward to the change with pleasure - as it was a certainty that the move could make matters no worse - while the chances for betterment were fine.

We set up camp on the other side of our area - about 6 miles from the old one. We are about 1 - kilometer south of what was once upon a time "Ville de Chaumont" -- but is now only a mass of ruins. There is absolutely no comparison between the two camps. Here we are right on the side of a mountain -- around which run a line of dug-outs -- perhaps 50 or more. These are the new homes of the negraes - and they are highly pleased with them. My men -- 25 now -- are up in dug-outs about 100 yds. from here. They are fixed up nicely.

Our home is what was once upon a time the Hdq. of a German Reg't. It is a two roomed house built right into the side of the mountain - the back of the roof runs right into the Mt. This little house is sealed - floored - and decorated with hand painting around the wall - so you may know it is a fine place.

The scenery is beautiful - and the moon light nights are the most wonderful I believe I ever saw. At the foot of "our mountain" - and just across an old road - there is a big stream of clear spring water - that can be heard running all night long. When the moon slides over the mountain tops on this stream - and on the thousand water filled shell holes across the fields -- it makes a sight long to be remembered.

Jan 20
Well, I suppose things can go just so long with out, without something happening to break the menotony of things. After a few months of nothing but shell-holes trenches - dug outs and earthed wire - with even the bombing of my demolition men we were getting to the stage where we did'nt link our surroundings with war. We were begining to forget that war had caused all this desolation - and that only a few months before this beautiful peaceful place was a raging hell.

I was about 3/4 of a mile down the road from camp -(had just finished raising 'ell because 13 men I was sending to the 2nd Army did'nt get away a 7 A.M. as I had ordered) - when I heard a negro holler from the top of a hill to some more "coons" down in the valley -- "Is you all fixin to shoot down there" -- To their answer "Naw - we's carrin iron down hea" -- the "blue" on the hill said "Then you'll come on 'cross hea' - day's four or five men down shot back over de hill."

I did'nt need any more information -- I knew what had happened. I called the negro over on the road - got the location of the accident as best I could from him (he was too excited to be sure about any thing) and started two parties out with stretchers to find the wounded men. I went back to camp - got the truck that was to take my men to the 2nd Army - gathered up some blankets and went up to wait for the wounded men.

Up the valley I could see one of my men (Wendell J. Math was) coming. He was limping terriably - and his face and hand was one mass of blood. We bound him up as best we could, and loaded him into the truck. He was too weak, to be questioned concerning the accident - so we simply had to await the arrival of the other two parties with the stretchers (Mathews had come in all alone - and no one saw him to help him along - until he got in sight of the road)

At last we could discern four men carrying a stretcher and a man - about 1/4 of a mile of the valley. Their path lay over shell holes - blown up trees and barbed wire - so their progress was slow. In a few more minutes two more parties - and two more stretchers appeared in the far end of the valley. -- Just at this moment the idea occurred to me -- I guess I have see it all now -- war in all its phases -- for nothing could have made a more impressive picture - that those three stretchers - winding their way slowly up that war scarred valley that A.M. I sent 12 big husky negroes to relieve the 12 who were walking with the stretchers.

Lt. Maler and I had all available medical supplies and hot water - waiting and fixed up the men, as best we could, for their long torturing - 15 mile ride into Verdun. One man - Robert Jones - a Pioneer Inf. boy - was too far gone for us to bandage up -- one leg being almost completely blown away and his stomach torn wide-open.

Jones died 15 min. after arriving at Evac. Hosp. 15 - the other two P. Inf. boys - as well as Mathews -- my man - are not seriously wounded.

In the evidence I got - it developed that Jones simply dropped the the "German Minenwerfers" he was carrying, instead of laying them down easily as he had been instructed to do by Cpl. Garrett - who was in charge of detail. Cpl. Garrett and one negro, were not touched.

Jan 25 Came into Verdun today to see that all my men signed the payroll. -- will spend the night and go out tomorrow (Sunday.

Jan 27 Before leaving Verdun - yes - today, I learned that the 802nd P. Inf. were ordered to assemble - and the 2nd Bn. would move into Verdun Jan. 27. This broke up my little playhouse in the woods - cause it was move into Verdun or starve to death. As eleven of my men were already stationed there - I had only five to move. The morning of our departure was a white one - the snow being about 3" deep. All the pioneer boys had full packs - so they had quite a little hardship - but they were homebound - so they stood-up exceptionally well. We officers enjoyed the walk in the snow.

I am now living - with my men it in -- #23 Rue Part St. Victor - Verdun.


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Copyright 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved. Redistribution and/or reuse terms of license. Disclaimer for this document: "The Diary of George Ludovic Alexander is published here with the permission of N. A. Wilds and transcribed by Ellen S. Wilds, December 1999. The materials published here are presented "as is", without warranty of any kind to the extent permitted by applicable law, and without any promise of validity and/or accuracy."