Gordon Van Kleeck's war journal - part 13 - Lehman, Germany to Guls, Germany

Ancestral Photographs of Upstate New York

by Roxy Triebel

Pvt. Gordon Van Kleeck

Co. F. 51 Pioneer Inf.

American Expeditionary Forces

Part 13

Lehmen  Dec 27

We left Treis this morning and hiked to this place.  The name of it is Lehman.  Had very muddy and rough roads.  We wore our helmets and had to carry on shoulder and walk at attention going through towns.  I am billeted in some kind of a meeting hall.  There are about twenty of us and we have a stove and electric lights.  I think we leave in the morning.

Guls.  Dec 28.

I am in Guls now.  It is quite a large town only four kilometers from Coblenz.  We are all billed in houses where we can have beds.  Charlie Held and I are together.  We have a nice room and the people treat us fine.  There are three girls here I think.  I(t) looks as if we had struck luck at last.

Guls.  Dec 29.

It is Sunday and I have been looking the place over.  I had dinner with the people where I am billeted and tonight we played games with one of the sisters and another girl.  There is a small ferry here to cross the Moselle and some kind of an amusment place over there.  We are not allowed to go over.  There are lots of pretty girls in this place and the boys are right after them.

Guls.  Dec. 30.

We had orders to clean our equipment today.  I took some stuff to the river and washed it.  Also my feet.  Orders have been issued against talking to the civilians in public and guards placed on some of the saloons.  I bought an Iron Cross of a German for twenty marks tonight.  Dont know if I got stuck or not.  The guards say most of our officers were drunk last night.  Had a good time at the house with the girls again last night and tonight.

Guls  Dec 31

I drilled this morning for three hours and in the afternoon was put on guard.  My post is a hotel along the river front and I have orders to allow only officers to go in it.  Most of the other hotels are open to the men for six hours a day but two of them are reserved for officers.

Guls.  Jan. 1.

Was on guard until four oclock and it was not bad.  I did not have any guarding from 8 P.M. until 6 P.M.  The rest of the Company have a holiday today and we have ours tomorrow.  Held was drinking pretty much last night and does not feel well tonight.  Mays was here to the house a couple hours trying his German on the girls.

Guls.  Jan. 2.

I had today off and Dooley and I went down to Metternich about three kilometers away from here.  We heard there was a commissary there but was told by a guard that there was not.  Also he told us there were M.P.s in town and we must be careful.  We came back and in the afternoon I stayed around the house and wrote a letter and folled with the girls.  Have heard since that the guard lied to us and I am going down again.

Guls  Jan. 4.

Had drill all day yesterday and today the officers were around inspecting our quarters.  I was to the dentist in the forenoon and had a tooth filled.  It is very seldom we have a dentist around in the army.  We have had some new clothes issued to us and I need shoes yet.  I staid in the house during the afternoon and had a good time.

Guls  Jan. 5

I(t) was Sunday today and I did nothing but sit around and try to talk German most of the time.  Chaplain White held services in a room we us(e) for recreation and I went there in the afternoon.  Was over there and wrote a letter to Ralph tonight.  Then went to bed early.

Guls  Jan. 9.

Have been drilling as usual lately.  We have been having some good times at the house nights and plenty of wine to drink.  In fact too much of it.  One of the corporals was on guard today and I had to take charge of a squad for drilling.  This morning we were paid and I got 163 francs.

Guls  Jan. 10.

We drilled this morning and in the afternoon the whole Company had a hot shower bath.  We needed it I guess.  Lena has gone away and we miss her very much.  I see the officers are wearing the insignia of the Fourth Army Corps on their shoulders and hear we get them too.  They look very nice.

Guls.  Jan 12

We had inspection as usual yesterday morning and in the afternoon I went on guard detail.  Was on until Sunday afternoon and have tomorrow off instead of today.

Guls. 13

I wrote a while this morning and cleaned some clothes.  In the afternoon the whole Company had another bath.  Men are to be picked from the Battalion for M.P. duty in this place instead of guards.

Guls  Jan 14.

We drilled all day.  The M.Ps have been appointed and we are going to get gas masks in place of the ones we heaved on our trip.  A Y.M.C.A. man has taken over our recreation hall and we have the latest papers and more magazines to read.  He is going to have candy and smokes for sale there soon.  Some of the men are building a shooting range.  It looks as if we were going to stay a while.

Guls.  Jan. 15.

This morning those of us who want to go to night school in Coblenz made out applications and we did not drill.  I(n) the afternoon all the men in the Company were given a short physical examination by the docters.  One of them said we were going home soon.  I hope he is right.  I am going to take a mechanical course in school if I can.  Besides it will give me a chance to see Coblenz.

Guls.  Jan. 16

Had drill as usual this morning and in the afternoon the band came in town and played a couple of hours for us.  Some of the fellows sang.  It sure sounded good especially when they played Take Me Back to New York Town.

Guls  Jan. 17.

We drilled this morning but it is our day for using the bathhouse and in the afternoon we had time for that.  The Y.M.C.A. has a small library for the boys and I am reading Heart of the Sunset by Rex Beach.  We are having candy issued to us now in half pound boxes.  It is very good.

Guls.  Jan. 18.

As it was Saturday we had the usual inspection in the morning and the afternoon off.  I have been reading and writing in the Y.M.C.A. and tonight we had a lecture by an American officer from Turkey.

Guls  Jan. 19.

Sunday and I was out for a walk over the hills with Mays.  Had a laugh at his expense for he got caught on a barbed wire fence and tore his trousers getting loose.

Guls  Jan. 20.

Drilled today as usual.  We are getting practice in aiming now.  Was given a pass to Coblenz for school.  It is good for five hours a night for five nights a week.  I went to Coblenz and could not find the school.  Did not look for it very long but walked around the city.  Another fellow and I bought some ice cream but it was not much good.  The cream seemed to be missing.

Guls.  Jan. 21

We drilled during the day and I went to school at night.  I am taking a course in algebra and have an hour in school each night.  Our teacher is an officer and seems very nice.  The Army has taken over several large school buildings and we have plenty of room.  There is a large Y.M.C.A. there and I got my French money order cashed.

Guls, Jan. 23.

Was to school last night.  I did not go back to Guls as soon as it was over.  Went to the Y.M.(C.A.) instead and watched the masquerade they were having for the soldiers.  Tonight I went to Coblenz before supper.  Got a shave in a German barber shop and then bought a couple hand bags for Roxy and Vera.  They cost 160 marks and while in the Y.M.C.A. after school I lost them.  McLoughlin and I went to a restaurant for American soldiers and had a late supper.  It was very good and cost four marks.

Guls.  Jan. 24.

I am on guard detail for tonight and am a supernumary.  I have to guard prisoners and dont have much to do.  This morning we had a bath and were issued gas masks instead of those we heaved on our hike.  Mine is to small for me but all I want it for is a souviner and it will do for that.

Guls  Jan. 26

I came off guard Saturday at 1:30 P.M. and went to an amateur minstrel show given by some men from our battalion.  It was very good and I enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed better ones at home.  Did not do so much Sunday except take a walk to a small town near here that I forgot the name of.  Also put in my name for a pass to Coblenz tomorrow but dont know if I will get it as I have a pass for school in that place.

Guls.  Jan. 27.

Got the pass alright and spent the day in Coblenz.  Fifty men from each company got a pass.  When we reached Coblenz each man received a ticket for dinner and supper at the Union Restaurant.  Mays and I were together and we kept on a move all the time.  I bought two more handbags costing 181 marks and some other things.  At night we went to a show at the Y.M.C.A.  Today was my 25th birthday and it was the ex-Kaiser's birthday too.  But I beleive I enjoyed myself today more than he did.

Guls  Jan. 29.

We have been on some new schedule of drilling this week.  It is mostly new skirmish formations.  The Y.M.C.A. had a show here last night but I was in Coblenz and did not see it.  But this afternoon we were dismissed early so we could go to a show from headquarters.  I did not think it was as good as the other one I saw.

Guls  Jan. 31

Went to school last night as usual but today was on K.P.  I did not work very hard.  When I got through at night it was to late to go to school.  There was to be a show of some kind here tonight but it was so cold in the theater they did not have it.

Guls  Feb 1.

We had inspection this morning and the afternoon I spent reading and writing.  They had a lecture for us tonight but I did not attend it.  I hear orders have been issued that we are not to buy anything in German stores.

Guls  Feb 4.

I did not do much except read Sunday, and Monday night was on kitchen guard so I have today off.  Have been sitting around in the saloon reading.  The Company is on the shooting range today.  I would like to shoot but will wait until some other time.  A lot of fellows have the influenza and have been sent to the hospital.  We are not allowed to go to school and the Y.M.C.A. is closed.

Guls  Feb. 5

We had a sort of sham battle in the hills today and in the afternoon I was on a detail to wash wagons for the Company as they are to be painted soon.  There were six of us and it did not take long.  But it was a poor job this weather.

Guls.  Feb. 6.

We had about an inch of snow fall last night and it looked a little like winter this morning.  I was on detail to take horses to Coblenz and give them an antiseptic bath.  It was about five miles and I rode there and back on an old horse without a saddle.  Tonight I am so sore I can hardly sit down.

Guls.  Feb. 15.

I was on guard last week on Friday and Saturday.  One day we all went to Coblenz to see the football game between the Fourth Corps and the Fourth Division.  The Division team won by the score of 3 to 0.  Friday night Mays, Adams and I went to Metternich to see the Hagenbeck circus.  It was very good but small.

Guls, March 1.

Have been to lazy to write lately.  We can get passes to Coblenz quite often now and if a person wants to take a chance he can easy get in without a pass.  I was in one night that way.  We are not drilling as hard as usual and I hear that next week we only drill in the morning.  Three new sergeants are in the company and two of them are from Kingston.  We will be allowed to go to school again in a few days I think.  The weather is getting warm and it seems like spring.

Guls, March 26

Had another streak of laziness and have written nothing lately.  We have been drilling as usual and I have had several passes to Coblenz besides going in nights without a pass.  Had a seven days leave in Aix-les-Bains which I enjoyed very much.  Today I was inoculated and suppose I will be sick tomorrow.  A(n) auto just went off the bank on the other side of the river and the driver was drowned.

Guls.  March 29

I had a surprise a couple days ago.  Five men were made corporals and I was one of them.  I was off from drill for one day on account of the inoculation and yesterday all the non-coms had an examination.  I dont know if I passed or not.  Today is Saturday but we did not have the usual inspection as there is a horse show near here and anyone is allowed to go.  I have to go on guard detail this afternoon.  Got letters from home lately that the folks are moving again.  Brooks says the place they are going to is very nice and I hope he is right.

Guls  Apr. 3.

I went on guard Saturday and had charge of the supernumeries.  Was on to Sunday after noon. Monday we all had to take our clothes and equipment to the Madhouse Hall for it all had to be inspected and checked up by the Major.  I had charge of the overalls and it was some job.  Everything was given back Tuesday but half the men did not get their own stuff.  Yesterday forty men of the battalion were sent for a trip up the Rhine.  I was one of them and enjoyed it although the weather was a little cold.

Guls  Apr. 6

Friday the whole Company went up in the hills to work on a new shooting range.  We have to dig a deep trench in the side of the hill and it will take some time.  I am leaving here for school in Brohl Monday and will be gone for three months.  Saturday I was with a squad in the kitchen.  The mess sergeant said the men came late and I had to have them all there again this morning but only for a few minutes.  We were all paid today.  I drew 174 francs as the rate of exchange is different than before.

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Gordon's Journal part 14:  Brohl, Germany

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