Best of MN Doughboy 1918

No diary entry again today. I wanted to take the opportunity to look back on Robert’s year so far and highlight some of my favorite posts.

If you knew someone who wasn’t aware of this project – say a relative or coworker or, I don’t know, anyone connected with a newspaper or podcast or someone with a couple million Twitter followers – this would be an excellent post to share with them.


Some of these posts are educational, some are a little funny, some are touching, some just led me to unexpected places. I like them all for very different reasons.

Introduction – in which I try to explain what I intend to do and why.

Wedding – in which Robert’s life takes an extraordinary turn. (Feb. 14, 1918)

Last Day – in which Robert spends his last day in St. Paul attending what turned out to be a fairly historic boxing match. (Feb. 25, 1918)

First Letter – in which Robert writes to his sister from Camp Dodge, Iowa and includes a fantastic self-portrait. (Mar. 5, 1918)

Leaving Camp Dodge – in which Robert boards the train for the embarkation camp at Camp Mills, New York. This post relies heavily on a great little book called War in Words. (Apr. 12, 1918)

Bon Voyage – in which Robert sets sail. Includes some amazing info and pictures of the English passenger ship Adriatic and the fascinating tactic of Dazzle Camouflage. (Apr. 24, 1918)

Liverpool – in which Robert and the 140th Infantry disembark at Liverpool. (May 6, 1918)

Le Havre – in which Robert reaches France. One of many posts that benefit from another fantastic resource: From Doniphan to Verdun: The Official History of the 140th Infantry. (May 9, 1918)

The “40 and 8″ – in which Robert and I learn about a very common, and uncomfortable, method of transportation in WW1 France. (May 11, 1918)

General Pershing – in which I learn about the amazing behind-the-scenes negotiations that took place between the Americans, British and French and shaped the training, organization and deployment of the new American Army overseas. Really long post, but one of my favorites. (May 22, 1918)

Training and K.P. – in which Robert gives me a remarkable little 2-day story that I found really moving and inspiring. (May 23-24, 1918)

Potash & Perlmutter – in which Robert and I read the same book, 100 years apart. Another personal favorite. (May 26, 1918)

The 140th Goes to War – in which Robert’s regiment has an all-out brawl with another regiment. (May 28, 1918)

The Big Picture – in which I take a step back and learn a little about where Robert fits into the larger scheme of things during this point of the war. (June 1, 1918)

Sgt. Haley – in which Sgt. Haley – well, apparently he shot one of his own men. (June 17, 1918)

Overseas Caps and Puttees – in which I learn about two iconic pieces of the doughboy uniform. (June 19, 1918)

Baseball, Boxing and Bees – in which the 140th celebrates Independence Day. (July 4, 1918)

Allotments and Pay – in which I use the utterly fantastic Pershing’s Crusaders to help understand how soldiers were paid and how they sent (mandatory) payments back home. (July 10, 1918)

Drinking – in which I owe a great debt to  Pershing’s Crusaders and its explanation of the problems raised by alcohol, young men far away from home, and the growing Prohibition movement back home. (July 13, 1918)

A Pawn on a Chessboard – in which Robert is confused about why they are moving back and forth across France and I take another big-picture look at the war to figure it out for myself. (July 24, 1918)

Letter to Dad – in which Robert writes to his dad, and I love every single thing about it. (July 29, 1918)

On Guard – in which Robert spends yet another night on guard, and I take the opportunity to learn about what guard duty in the trenches was like. (August 10, 1918)

Laid to Rest with Loving Care – in which the 140th loses four men and I connect the dots between the 140th, the cemetery where they buried their dead, and a 2018 commemoration  happening next month in France. (August 14, 1918)


There you have it – highlights from a 7-½ month span of my grandfather’s life, 100 years ago. Can’t wait to see where the rest of 1918 takes me. Thanks for coming along with me.

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