This candid and detailed World War I diary (April 25, 1918-March 12, 1919) was kept by Carl Whittlesey of Barton County, MO, during his service with the 313 Engineers 88th Division. He kept detailed entries regarding his training at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, his participation in the Alsace Campaign in France, and his involvement in developing the war ravaged areas in Europe.
Carl B. Whittlesey was born in 1894 and died in 1986, and is buried in Saint Joseph Memorial Park, Saint Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, USA. He was married to Louise H. Whittlesey (1900-1989). Whittlesey enlisted in the United States Army on April 26, 1918, at the sheriff's office in Boone, Iowa. He was trained at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, and left for France on August 15, 1918, arriving on September 1, 1918. In France he worked on making and maintaining trenches until the end of the war, and then he helped repair and rebuild horse stables and railroads after the war ended. Whittlesey shipped home on March 12, 1919.
The 88th Division was a National Army Division that was created late in the war on September 4, 1917, with men coming from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Later a majority of men were from Missouri or Nebraska. Training largely took place at Camp Dodge, Iowa. During the time period between July 25, 1918, and September 4, 1918, the division moved to France. The first few weeks in France the division was trained for open warfare as part of the First Army, 6th American Corps. The 88th Division's first major assignment was to relieve the 29th American Division at the Haute-Alsace Sector, so that they could take part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. When the 88th Division left the area on September 14, 1918, they were transferred to the 7th American Army Corps. From September 23, 1918, to November 1, 1918, the 88th Division held the Center Sector of Haute-Alsace. At times they held the line by themselves, at other times they had help from French troops. From September 20, 1918, to October 12, 1918, the division suffered from an epidemic of influenza and pneumonia, resulting in 444 deaths. Raids that resulted in capturing of some of the enemy forces were taken throughout the operation. Counter raids by the Germans were largely unsuccessful against the 88th Division. On November 2, 1918, until the end of the war the 88th Division transferred to the 4th American Army Corps and moved to the Meuse-Argonne front to relieve other divisions to attack the Germans. After the war some troops from the division helped rebuild in France.
Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society. Carl B. Whittlesey. Find A Grave, 2014, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/126339289/carl-b.-whittlesey. Accessed 22 August 2018.
The 88th Division in the World War of 1914 – 1918. New York, Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company, 1919.
The diary, written by Carl B. Whittlesey, recounts his time in Company F of the 2nd Battalion of the 313th Engineer Regiment of the 88th Division of the US Army during World War I. The diary contains almost daily entries from the day Whittlesey was enlisted on April 26, 1918, until he went home on March 12, 1919.
The diary is a standard issue Army and Navy diary for soldiers who were heading to France. It is broken up into a few sections. There are pages for the addresses of home, friends, and family of which Whittlesey has filled out several pages. A small section contains common words in French and English that a soldier might need. There are lines that can be used for the autographs of comrades but Whittlesey did not get any autographs. There are also a few pages for carrying stamps and a table to show the value of French coins.
The accounts of Whittlesey's days are not very detailed and are often no more than half a page. When discussing his time in training he focused on the duties he was given as well as physical training times. Occasionally he wrote the exact times he did something. Some of the activities that Whittlesey wrote the most about were his time caring for horses, cleaning a farm, hiking, doing drills, and helping in the kitchen.
Whittlesey's voyage to France is described in some detail. On August 15, 1918, he boarded HMHS Plassy, which was originally a hospital ship. HMHS Plassy took Whittlesey to Liverpool, England, where he landed on August 28, 1918. From Liverpool he took a train to Southampton where he boarded USS Yale and crossed the channel for France on September 1, 1918.
While in France Whittlesey wrote mostly about his duties. The first engineering work he did was cleaning out old trenches three miles from the front at Ballersdorf France on October 11, 1918. Until the end of the war Whittlesey did a lot of work digging new trenches and reinforcing old ones. After the armistice, Whittlesey started working to help rebuild France. He helped rebuild and repair horse stables as well as shoveling ballast and placing ties and rails for railroads. Whittlesey did also write about a short period where he suffered from pneumonia.
There are a few pages throughout the diary that are not related to Whittlesey's recounting of his days in France. There is a small section on different divisions of the army, their insignias (drawn by Whittlesey), and sometimes a few details about the divisions. Some notes were made in the margins about number of people killed, wounded, or missing during the war. There is also a poem that Whittlesey wrote in the diary called the "Liverpool Reg."
Purchased with state funds from Denning House
Processing completed August 29, 2018, by Timothy Smith.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.