Gordon Van Kleeck's war journal - part 8 - ForÍt de Puvenelle, France

Ancestral Photographs of Upstate New York

by Roxy Triebel

Pvt. Gordon Van Kleeck

Co. F. 51 Pioneer Inf.

American Expeditionary Forces

Part 8

Puvenelle Woods or
ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 12.

We waited until nine oclock and our officers told us to go to bed as even if the trucks came we would not leave until morning.  Some other fellows had moved into our bunks and we slept on the concrete floor.  This morning our cooks and kitchen had gone so we had to feed ourselves.  Us four in the dugout made coffee and toasted some bread that we had.  Besides we managed to capture a can of jam and that went good with some crackers from the Salvation Army.  So we did not go hungry.  All our trucks did not come so we loaded our packs and rifles in one truck and started to hike.  After a couple of hours the trucks caught us and we rode the rest of the way.  Now we are in wooden barracks in the same woods where we stayed at night coming from Toul on Sept. 22nd.  There is a Y.M.C.A. about one hundred yards from our barracks.

ForÍt de Puvenelle.
Oct. 24.

We have today off and have been running around.  I have been twice to Griscourt.  They have a sales commissary there and a Y.M.C.A.  There are also a few French people in there.  Our Captain and Leiutenant Julian came back today and seem to (be) alright.  Also a fellow named Evans who we left in Toul drunk.  The last I had seen of him he was staggering around looking for the Fort Lee Ferry.

ForÍt de Puvenelle.

We had drill for half a day today and got along very (well) considering that we have not had any for over a month.  In the afternoon we were taken out to work on a road an hours hike from here.  I was surprised to see that the road we were working on was only about a mile from the woods where we camped when working near Fey en Haye.  We worked one hour and came back in time for supper.  Wrote a letter to Cox & Co. Paris telling them to send me a check for the amount there.  Also sent letters to Alice and Al Dresch.

ForÍt de Puvenelle.
Oct. 26.

Worked all day on the road and had our dinner brought out to us.  Tomorrow is Sunday and I am expecting to go for a walk and see some fo the country.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 27.

Charlie, Ralph, Ray and I went for a walk today as it was a fine day and we wanted to see some of the villages around here.  We went to Dieulouard and it is quite a large town.  There were a few French soldiers there and a lot of American soldiers were billeted in the empty houses.  Also a couple of French stores and some cafes.  I bought a flashlight, some ink and flints for my lighter.  The other fellows had some beer and we walked around and saw the town.  Then we got a ride back on a truck and Ralph and I went to Mamey to get some chocolate of the Y.M.C.A. but it was closed.  After supper Ralph, Charlie and I went to Griscourt and found everything closed there.  Ray went over to Dieulouard with some other fellows and I suppose will not get back to quite late.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 28.

We had to walk about two hours to get to work this morning.  We were collecting rolls of barbed wire that were scattered around the woods this morning and getting out rock for a short piece of road on the 301st Engineers dump.  We are working with them now and were at Fey en Haye also.  The artillery has been doing a lot of firing for a couple of days now near here.  Some of the fellows were in Pont au Mousson this afternoon and evening.  They had to go in dugouts for over two hours as the Germans shelled the place and did quite a lot of damage.  The papers say Ludendorff has resigned.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 29.

Worked today as ussual but not very hard.  We are carrying barbed wire up a steep hill for use along the second line (of) defense that the Engineers are building.  We just had heavy underwear and socks issued to us also a rolling kitchen and water cart.  I was down to the Y.M.C.A. listening to some fellows play the piano and sing tonight.  There are reports around that Austria is asking for peace on any terms.  That will leave the Huns out of luck alright.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 30.

We worked on the old job today.  A Hun plane made a dive from the clouds as we were coming home after the observation balloon near where we worked.  He was nearly to it and the two observers had jumped with parachutes when a group of Allied planes came up and he beat it with three planes in chase.  They gained on him and I heard he was forced to land some distance away.  The observers landed several miles from the balloon.  Our Lieutenants Julian and Richardson left for some training school early today.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Oct. 31.

We worked on the wire job again today.  I am afraid it is too easy to last.  I was down to the Y.M.C.A. and played dominoes with Charlie and Ray tonight.  The papers say that Austria is asking for peace at once.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 1.

I wanted a chance to go to a couple of towns today so faked sickness and stayed in the barracks until about 11 oclock.  Then Corporal O'Hare being sick too we both went down to Dieulouard and bought some things in the stores there.  We got some bread and cheese and ate it in a cafe.  Then we got a ride on a truck and went to Belleville where there is a railhead and a sales commissary.  There we bought candy, chocolate and smokes.  Got a ride back to Dieulouard and went in a church where services were being held for the dead.  The church was full of civilians and reminded me of home.  We reached the barracks in time for supper and nothing was said to us about being absent.  That is one way to get a day off.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 2.

We worked today as usual.  The papers say Turkey has surrendered and given over their forts and the Dardanelles to the Allies.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 3.

Today was Sunday and a very nice day.  Ray, Charlie, Wiesenberg and I went for a walk after breakfast.  First we went to Jezainville and from there to a town that I think is named Mazieres (This may be MaidiŤres, per a French correspondent, as there is no "Mazieres" in this area.).  It is a quite a large town and some of the French people have came back there.  We bought bread, butter, cake and grapes for dinner.  Got a ride to Dieulouard on a Y.M.C.A. Ford and was there a while.  Then we went by way of Jezainville back to the barracks.  I wrote to the Stars and Stripes and ordered two copies of Yanks.  One to be sent to Genevieve and the other to Roxy.  We had to get permission to leave today and tell what time we would be back.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 5.

Worked as usual today.  I see by the papers that Austria has signed an armistice.  The Huns got one of the American observation balloons just as we were going in from work today.  We are working on the line of barbed wire near Limey now and it is still a couple of hours walk.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 7

We have been working near Limey for the past two days.  It rained most of the time today but we worked just the same.  Fifteen of the men went on leave to Aix-le-Bains today.  They will be gone for thirteen days I think and then fifteen more will go.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 8

I am on guard detail for four oclock today but had to go out to work just the same.  We did very little and came in at one oclock.  I got a hair cut and cleaned my rifle for inspection.

ForÍt de Puvenelle
Nov. 9.

I went on guard detail until four oclock today.  After being releived at two oclock in the morning we swiped a can of jam and a loaf of bread from the kitchen and our releif had a little feed.  We have a good guardhouse here with a stove in it.  We have an extra man on each releif and he keeps the fire going while the rest are on guard.  Cornwell of Kingston was the extra on this releif.  We heard last night that an armistice had been signed by Germany but last night the artillery fired more than any other night.  The sky was lit by the flashes all the time.  I saw by the paper today that German envoys were on the way to France to get Gen. Foch's terms for an armistice.  After coming off guard we went to the gas chamber for a gas test.  It was not bad although mustard gas was used but it must have been weak.

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Gordon's Journal part 9:  somewhere near Thiaucourt, France to Trieux, France

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