Gordon Van Kleeck's war journal - part 7 - Bois du Four, France to Xivray, France

Ancestral Photographs of Upstate New York

by Roxy Triebel

Pvt. Gordon Van Kleeck

Co. F. 51 Pioneer Inf.

American Expeditionary Forces

Part 7

Bois du Four
Oct, 10.

We left the place we were in Monday afternoon.  I found out that the town we were working in was Fey en Haye.  Our Co. is now encamped in another woods in dugouts and iron huts.  I think the name of this place is the Bois du Four.  Meyr, Adams and myself are in a hut built on the side of a bank of corrugated iron.  We are working on another road about a mile from here.  There is not much shelling in this place but Boche planes come over every day.  We saw a battle between Boche and American planes today and one of the Boche planes came down in flames.  It has been rainy here lately but today was clear.  We are hearing a lot about the Central Powers asking for peace.  Everyone is hoping it is so but we cant seem to get any newspapers here.

Bois du Four
Oct. 12.

We are still working on the road and are having nice weather.  Mays found a small charcoal burner in a German trench and we got some charcoal and have a little fire nights.  Last night we made coffee and had that with hard tack and jam before going to bed.  The coffee was so strong we could not sleep good that night.  We have not heard much about peace for a couple of days although we got a few newspapers.

Bois Xivray, France
Oct. 14.

We moved again Sunday morning.  This time we did not hike but had trucks and went about twenty miles I think.  We are in another ruined town and are living in old houses and dug outs.  Mays, Adams and myself have a very good dugout with bunks and a concrete floor.  We had about four hours work cleaning it up before it was fit to live in.  Now we have a good stove and have found a Salvation Army near here where they have lots of things to sell.  I bought a lot of chocolate and an Ingersoll watch.  I have a letter with my Xmas coupon in it ready to send home and must send it today or tomorrow.  We hear Germany has agreed to all of the Allies terms and are leaving French territory.  Darn good news I call it.

Xivray, France
Oct. 15.

This town is Xivray I found out today.  Our Captain and Leiutenants Julian and Long were in a railroad accident today.  Long was killed and the Captain and Julian were injured.  I dont know how bad for they are in some hospital.  Leiutenant Matthews is in charge of us now and we all like him very much.  Some of the sergeants are leaving to go to officers training school.  Both the sergeants of our platoon are gone.  They are Saulpaugh and Dickinson.  Our food is getting better every day now.  We are hearing a lot of rumors about the peace question but have not seen any papers lately.  I think the story about the Germans giving up is untrue.  We were repairing the road through the town today.

Xivray, France.
Oct. 18

We are still working on the road but outside of the town.  We all signed the payroll this morning.  Some changes have been made in this company and I am a first class private now.  Ralph Sparling is in the dugout with us now and all the bunks are filled.

Xivray, France.
Oct. 20.

It is Sunday today and of course has to rain.  Ralph, Ray and I went walking today for about five hours and got pretty wet.  We went to a mountain near here called Mount Sec and explored some German dugouts.  They are a great peice of work.  Some of them go all the way through the mountain.  Coming back we were in a thick woods and saw a lot of dug outs and houses built by the German soldiers.  Some of the houses were very nice.  They were built on a rustic style and in nice shape.  We stopped at the Salvation Army and bought chocolate and jam.  Had to stand in line to get them.  When we got back Mays had a good hot fire and we were able to dry our clothes by it.  The stove has been a fine thing for us.  Nearly every night we get some stuff and fix up a feed before going to bed.  Have found out that even corned willy is good if fixed right.  With the things we get at the Salvation Army and manage to beg, borrow or steal elsewhere we get along fine.  Mays is the cook and sometimes we eat so much that we can not sleep good at night.

Xivray, France.

Started to work this morning and were recalled and told to clean up as we were going to leave next morning.  I went down with Mays to Bouconville where the Salvation Army is and I got a brass candle holder in a ruined church there for a souviner.  The church had been shelled but the steeple was still there and we were up in it looking at the bells there.  Got back for supper and was told to pack up as we were going to leave that night.  We packed and are waiting for the trucks to take us.

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Gordon's Journal part 8:  ForÍt de Puvenelle, France

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