December 1, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Left Fresnes. Glad to get away. Awfully cold and wet.
The new town is Pont-sur-Meuse. Are billeted in a big barn.”
I hope the barn is comfortable, because this is where Robert and the 140th will be stationed for the next three months.
Just for context, let’s zoom out a bit. Paris is 145 miles to the west. Verdun is 25 miles north. Fresnes-au-Mont is the northernmost point shown here, 7 miles from Pont-sur-Meuse.
Chaplain Edwards makes a welcome return in From Doniphan to Verdun:
On the first of December the regiment moved about twenty kilometers to Boncourt and Pont-sur-Meuse, a few kilometers from St. Mihiel, and near Division Headquarters at Commercy. These were deserted little French towns, but while crowded and poor, gave us better billets than we usually had while in France.
Here we were given a period of intensive training. Men who had dug in more than once under fire, and sometimes with the lid to a mess-kit were taught to dig trenches. Men had bits of white cloth pinned on them and “simulated machine guns,” while men who had taken machine gun nests without artillery support were taught how to attack machine guns by men who had never faced them. The various indoor sports went on, and golf (African) became popular with a small element.
The men made friends with the French. Of course their men were being demobilized, and the homes were needed for them. But the 140th could go back tomorrow to any French town it ever visited and find a warm and kindly welcome. Our men were well disciplined, and there were never any serious difficulties with the French.
“African Golf” turns out to be the dice game better known as “craps,” according to this New York Times tidbit from February 1918:
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.