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WAR DIARY: WALTER ERICKSON U.S. REMOUNT SQUADRON NO. 302 WW1
Walter A. Erickson is located above the "R" in Germany in the large group panoramic photo on the mainpage for Remount Squadron No. 302; he's in the second row with his head tilted.
My Grandfather Walter A. Erickson was in Remount Squadron No. 302 working with the horses during WWI. From Grandpa’s Diary (he was a blacksmith near the frontlines): “A great number of horses began to come in. One night we unloaded a long trainload after supper. Not much after spending all day in the shop shoeing all the horses we could possibly shoe. Everyone had to work; even the cooks not on duty were on the job. Two thirds of the squadron handled 11,000 head of horses in 7 days and 17,000 horses in 12 days. It was this that won us fame.”
My grandfather's dad came up in the Goldrush to Nome, Alaska. Grandpa came up in the 30's and we've been here since. My father started and owned the Chugiak Eagle River Star until he sold it in 2000.
Ole Jordan and family
Note: This is the war diary of Walter Erickson who served with U.S. Remount Squadron No. 302 in France during WW1. The diary has been transcribed by his grandson, Ole Jordan, the diary starts here:
CAMP JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
“Tent City” Camp Joseph E. Johnston, Jacksonville, Florida. Image: Family Collection of Walter A. Erickson Remount Squadron No. 302, A.E.F., WW1
CAMP JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON
Click on the below link on Camp Joseph E. Johnston:
Camp Joseph E. Johnston
April 1, 1918
Ordered to pack for overseas service. Heavy Shower
April 3, 1918
False start Ordered to turn in equipment.
Waiting orders to move. Infantry and pack drill.
No passes from camp. Waiting orders and Infantry drilling. Each day mounted and infantry drilling.
April 15, 1918
Big Ball game 301 via 302, Score 4-3. Captain treats cream and cake.
(Note: Remount Squadron No. 302 versus Remount Squadron No. 301)
April 18, 1918
All Four Squadron had picture taken - Order No. 2.
April 19, 1918
Repacked. Another heavy rain.
Sat. April 20, 1918
Confined to Company Street. Last night in Camp Johnston and Jacksonville Fla.
Sunday 21st April
Reveille at 5:15. Inspection of Packs and equipment. Left Yukon Station at 11:00am. Reached Savannah Geo. At 4 pm Took calisthenics on station platform. Red Cross gave ice-cream and tobacco.
Directly across from NAS Jax's main gate, the slab of the old Yukon railroad depot remains. (source: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2008-aug-jacksonvilles-ghost-town-yukon)
Editor note: “Yukon: Jacksonville's Ghost Town” During its heyday, the community had gridded paved streets, sidewalks, a downtown business district, homes and a railroad depot. Presently the site of Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park, this land was once home to a vibrant community called Yukon. Designated as a flight and safety hazard, the Navy closed the town in July 1963. Today, most of the buildings have been demolished and the land has been converted into a large regional park.
Click on the below link:
Yukon: Jacksonville's Ghost Town
Monday, April 22, 1918
We were delayed at Florence, SC by flooded tracks. Was on guard and enjoyed the music of frogs. 12:00-2:00
Tuesday, April 23, 1918
After going through Washington DC at 2:00am arrived at Philadelphia at 8:30am. Great reception. Calisthenics at station. Red Cross gave us eats. Passed through Jersey City at 2:00pm. Saw statue of Liberty in NY Harbor. Arrived at Camp Merritt (N.J.) at 5:30pm, fine camp.
Thursday, April 25, 1918
Received equipment and inspection for overseas. Cold and snappy weather, feeling fine. Enjoyed several evenings at the Y.M.C.A.
Monday, April 29, 1918
Reveille at 1:30am. Had five mile march from camp to river, awful bad cold and full packs, very hard trip. Took boat from river boat from pier to Navy yards pier #1. Long wait, Red Cross gives coffee and buns. We finally march on ship to get a meal then came right off. Slept in pier overnight in big hall with 700 negroes. On trip down saw Grant’s tomb & portion of New York. Retired at 10:00pm long day and cold worse.
Thursday, April 30, 1918
Reveille at 6:10 Stood muster and marched on boat at 11:00am. Packs on all morning. On board the USS Finland large boat has four large guns camouflaged, she being likewise. Has been torpedoed twice and repaired. Left pier at 8:00pm everyone below decks. In bunk feeling better.
Wednesday, May 1, 1918
There are seven boats in the convoy. 1 battleship (USS So. Dakota - cruiser), USS Manchuria, USS George Washington, USS Martha Washington and two others (There were three other ships listed USS Matsonia, USS Kroonland, USS Powhatan in online records)
Thursday, May 2, 1918
Still feeling bad but not seasick as yet and kidding Harris about his being so. Three meals today fine feed. On guard from 10:00 to 12:00. Awful rain got wet through and in morning too sick to stir. Boat drill but not for me.
May 3, 1918
Blank except gunners having target practice. I did not however feel interested.
May 4, 1918
May 5, 1918
Still blank excepting when Top Serge tried to have me answer boat drill, nothing stirring, die first.
May 6, 1918
Answered first boat drill and then was sent to Sick Bay. Fever was 102 it took 103 to get in. was taken back, lots of sympathy was all. Sickness differed from the rest, I never did feed the fish.
Tuesday, May 7th, 1918
Boat Drill. Calm Sea and feeling better. On deck. Two strange crafts seen did not answer signals so cruiser went in pursuit soon overtook them but they were U.S. boats. Nearing sub zone.
May 8th, 1918
Feeling better & both drills answered.
May, 9th 1918
Drills, speaking by officers and boxing between both the Soldiers and Sailors.
In Sub Zone
May 10th, 1918
Convoy of nine sub chasers came out to guard us, am glad I am not one of them, how they do bob. On guard at negro end of boat some of them are very sick. But some of course are ready to kid them. They have a band but are not allowed to play in danger zone. We are sleeping in all out clothes and carry life belts with us at all times.
May 11th, 1918
We are alone except three of the sub chasers.
May 12th, 1918
Land in sight first thing in the morning. Saw small fishing boats a great way out at sea. Airplanes constantly flying over. In evening had religious services had talk and compliment by Major L. Pulled up at St. Nazaire at 5:00pm. The land along the shore looks very pretty and green. Quite a few U.S. soldiers greet us. Large quantities of supplies on dock. Feeling fine and enjoyed the evening.
Monday, May 13, 1918
Came off the boat at 8:30 and marched to Base Camp No. 1. Seen our first P.Gs (I think this is the term for German prisoners) this morning. Rained quite a bit but cleared up. We spent six days at this camp drilling and resting up. Had a good Y.M.C.A. here. Captain Swenson took a few of us down to the beach and we had a great swim and saw a fine bit of farming country. Also their method of farming which is very crude but they raise very large crops. They use cattle for plowing, horses scarce. Live in same building with stock.
May 19th, 1918
Reveille at 3:00am. Marched to station with full packs. Entrained at 9:10am. Trains are very small, cars have horizontal seats with compartments each holding eight men. I got in boxcar with a few more and had a fine view of country thru dawn. Landed at Guer at 5:00 PM. Very pretty location for camp which is Camp Coetquidan an old camp of Napoleons. Now the largest artillery camp of U.S. control here. We are put in the finest quarters which are just being completed. Note: Camp Coetquidan (Near Guer - French Military Academy, St-Cyr)
Monday, May 20, 1918
Quarters are finest we have had being made of tile and slate roofs they are built by P.Gs. who do it very good. There being a very large number of them here.
Tuesday, May 21, 1918
Here we took over a very large remount from the artillery. The horses were in very bad shape. We killed as high as sixty head a day. We had large details from camp to bury them. I had a good job for about a week dynamiting in trench. French powder. Had large fire in officers’ quarters. Received out first pay in Francs. There was a street outside the gates occupied by shops of all kinds. Spent evenings here and at the Y.M.C.A and at the Art. Range. There is aviation field here also a balloon training station. Artillery practice every day. Once rode under range and the shells sounded like tearing paper.
June 20, 1918
Moved from tile barracks to Remount tents very close to work. I am put in blacksmith shop after asking Lieutenant Watkins if there is opening. Was able to hold the job.
Wednesday July 3. 1918
Americans take Vaux. Captured 500 prisoners. French and Americans advance on Chateau Thierry. (Eastern front)
Monday July 8th, 1918
Moved to large Chateau and estate and established camp. Pretty location. Good swimming hole and fine weather always. Three kilos (km) to Guer.
Monday July 15, 1918
Big drive started.
We stood inspection by Lieutenant Colonel – Later Captain Swenson read his report from lieutenant Colonel telling we were the best squadron and would be the first to go to the front. Received gas masks & training all ready to move. Had several ball games with the balloon Company. Met Scandinavian lad but lost his name.
August 5, 1918
Orders to move for front.
Tuesday, August 6th, 1918
Reveille at 3:30am. Have fine leather saddle bags instead of old ration bags. Squadron looks fine. Marched to Guer and stayed until after we had dinner. Pulled out at 1:20pm went through Rennes 100,000 inhabitants fine place, seen large munitions factories also went through Chartres.(SW of Paris) Eight men to a compartment so no room to rest.
Wednesday, August 7th, 1918
Passed through St. Cyr & Versailles & St. Denis (west of Paris) and outskirts of Paris stopped here several hours. Could hear big guns bombarding Paris every 10 minutes. Shells passing directly over us whistling loud, went up on embankment but could not see effects of them bursting. Spent evening at Noisy Le Sec. Saw a trainload of 1000 German prisoners come in, loaded in boxcars French guards.
Thursday, August 8th, 1918
Marched to Claye from station on mainline from Paris to front. Relieved 3rd Calvary and were soon relieved by Remount Squadron No. 308. Heard Cy Loyd was with them but he was on some detail and did not come up. Field filled with barbed wire entanglements & trenches. Trucks and troops are passing continuously. Enjoyed a short rest here in pretty town, full of French colored troops and Chinese also.
Sunday, August 11th, 1918
Orders to move. Reveille at 2:30am. Left at 4:30am carried blanket roll, saddle packs, gas mask, helmet, canteen, four halters with ropes and one 12 foot rope 1 inch for cars. 1 bucket, one lantern, overcoat & rifle, also four days rations.
Marched about four miles. Went back to Paris stayed in Paris about 6 hours had fine time looking around. Red Cross gave all the eats you wanted, finest coffee ever. Paris not the fashionable place I had thought it.
Left Paris about 1pm had fine trip in two story cars. Pretty country. All along was trenches & wire. Saw airplane that had been shot down –tail up. Lots of shell holes as we neared Chateau Thierry at 5pm. Very busy, streets filled with debris cars can just pass, full of soldiers. Ambulances unloading wounded on platform at R.R lots of them. Town badly shot up. Load into trucks and are taken up the Soissons road about eight miles. Pitch pup tents in wheat field just off road. Went to sleep after watching the front which was just like lightning from the guns, and saw a few searchlights playing for Jerry. The road just roared with traffic and so it was when I awoke. 50 men sent back from here with 200 horses wounded to Claye again through Paris going and coming. While here I saw my first airplane fight a long ways off some spectacle sure. When not busy in shop I had time to roam about a bit.
Went to the famous Belleau Woods, everything imaginable was in discard. Trees all shot to splinters. Rifles, American, French, German, lay everywhere also ammunition, clothing helmets, packs everything. Lots of French and German graves. Americans seemed to be bunched together. German graves everywhere, some none too well buried marked by helmets and gun. Air is frightful. Many dead horses . Had our first Air raid here came about 11pm I didn’t awake until he dropped tailgate, then I sure did. Searchlights on him all the time. Antiaircraft guns turned loose on him and he left us.
August 17th, 1918
Front very active all this week.
August 22nd, 1918
Had another raid on Aug 22 several machines they seemed to go onto Paris.
August 25, 1918
Moved up to Jaulgonne to an old ruined Chateau surrounded by pines very beautiful place it reminds me of home, We are protected by the trees from German airplanes . We have a splendid shop and do lots of work here. Squadron delivers quite a few horses to the front. The woods north of here are all shot up had fierce fighting here I went on several trips on spare time. Found Frenchman killed by shell out in field. French bury German trenches and dugouts in fine order in one place they had left hurriedly leaving everything behind. Even beds were just as they had jumped up and run. I was alone and enjoyed shooting all afternoon. Plenty of shells. Quentin Roosevelt’s grave is half a mile from camp.
Saw several air battles but too far away to see results. Most all the evenings were active by artillery fire and skies are illuminated as though several villages were on fire. Grub rather slim, had bum mess sergeant, had meeting with captain but no results.
Wednesday, September 4th, 1918
Great news tonight, whole front advancing no Germans in sight. New drive started on eastern sector. Germans must be burning villages as they retreat, skies are all lit up. Have several heavy rain storms.
Thursday September 12th, 1918
Had Lieutenant Fisher’s horse issued me to ride on move to Eastern Front. Had a great time packing tried to swipe anvil stand nothing doing. Left initials in keystone of arch. Frenchman sure on the hop. Machine gun practice has been carried on here for a long time.
Friday, September 13, 1918
Reveille at 3:30am Left Chateau at 7:15am Just above Jaulgonne Bend passed through Trelou(-sur-Marne), Venteuil ,(Dormans), Mareuil-le Port, Port A Binson, Guille, had dinner passing PM Chouilly(wrong place), Constantine and Epernay the great Champaign town camped about three kilos (km) past traveled about 40 kilometers. Blacksmiths have to keep the horse all shod, some job. Several at every halt only two with cavalry the others with wagon train.
Saturday September 14, 1918
(The towns of Chouilly) Plivot, Athis are on a railway but I could not find all of them but the route should take them toward Metz and “*” are by those I could not find the town for spelling) ((They are on hwy D3 between Epernay and Chalons)). Reveille at 4:30am Passed through Plivot, Athis, Aulnay-sur-Marne, Matougues, St. Gibien –dinner- Chalons(-en-Champagne), Longevas(*), Marson(*) made about 40 kilos. (km) (Travelled on route D-1)
Sunday, September 15, 1918
Reveille at 4:30am Passed through Coupe rille*(Coupeville), Le Fresne, Bussy Le Repos, Possesse*, had dinner on side of road had to wait for firing to cease. Charmont*, Nettencourt*, Noyers . Stopped at Laheycourt.
Monday, September 16, 1918
Shod up all horses needing shoes in forenoon had plenty of Champaign. Got ready and left at 3PM The squadron leaving in platoons at 15 minute intervals. I rode with Sergeant Turner We had a great time. Lieutenant Watkins caught us buying Champaign. Came through triacourt. Gathered in woods for supper Arrived at Ville Sur at 12pm put up in French barracks. Getting close to the Front. Stayed here all the next day.
Wednesday, September 18, 1918
Before camp nearer the front at 3:00 PM only four traveling together a few men sent ahead to stop at the crossroads to direct the rest. 20 men came up last night to hold please place called Souhesme la grand. This section is full of low hills and camps can be seen in all directions. Two American planes down a German just as we arrive certainly a sight. This is to be our headquarters, I stayed here several days. The first detachment to be sent out on detail, I was sent as horseshoer. We went to a village called Autricourt and made ready to receive wounded horses. Nothing to do I generally went on forge wagon the traffic was very heavy on main roads drew rations at Rarecourt a large railhead. Rain falls almost every day, blankets become very damp.
Wednesday, September 25, 1918
Reveille at 6:30 AM. Awful heavy firing began at almost 5:30 AM but let up about 6:30am. It was the beginning of the drive west of Metz. While on way after forage, just as we entered Rarecourt, a German plane shot down two observation balloons. I could see the men in one of the balloons jump out with parachutes. A few Negroes came in with a bunch of Germans a few of them still had on their packs* others were bareheaded. They were put in barb wire pens at Rarecourt, the pens were all filled next morning.
A large number of wounded horses came in in the next few days. Some horribly shot up. I remember of trying to shoe one that was shot in the hoof. The veterinary major helped. Work hard all day and rain and took sick after supper worse in morning. Lieutenant Fischer telephoned in and Captain Swanson came out in car and took me to HQ. Berry was sent out my place and I was put in building the cooks were quartered in. I guess the reason I was not taken to the hospital a large number of horses were expected in and all help was needed.
One day while recovering I was just entering the door of my quarters when I heard an airplane began shooting. There were three Germans together and two Americans went after them. They had no more than reached them when one German fell just in the next little valley. Soon three more American planes came up and the Germans tried to get back but was cutoff, one soon went down just like a rocket, just a ball of flame. The other tried to make the ground on a slant but I saw his tail go up and he was headed straight down the last I saw him. This was the biggest air fight I saw during the war. The railhead here was bombed quite often at night. When a German plane came over the cry was, “Lights out Jerry overhead.” The search lights would always play across the sky trying to locate him for the antiaircraft guns.
I paid a visit to Seville and was taken through base hospitals No.6 and No. 7 by a medical man. Visited German prisoners in pen they were dressed in U.S. uniforms dyed green. Passed through Ippycourt* and Vaudline*(COULD NOT FIND ANY TRACE OF THESE NAMES)(I IMAGINE THEY WERE NOT FAR FROM VERDUN) and Thierry not far from where I was on detail. We were just catching trucks that were going in a general direction for HQ and got one that took us right past our quarters and got one just in time for mess. It was the best Sunday spent here.
It was soon after this that a great number of horses began to come in one night, we unloaded a long trainload after supper. Not much of course after spending all day in shops with all the horses we can possibly shoe. But everyone had to work, even the cooks not on duty were on the job. 2/3 squadron handled 11,000 head in seven days and 17,000 in 12 days. It was this that won us fame. Horses were taken from cars to HQ fed and watered then led up to the front anywhere from 25 kilos (km)to 40. Two men led thirty-two head on ordinary string and as high as forty-one on busy days. I took several trips to chattlam court (?) and Montfaucon d'Argonne (JUST A FEW MILES FROM VERDUN) on the lead of such stirrings. Very difficult with the road jammed with traffic. Made trip to Dun (SUR-MEUSE)(30 km FROM VERDUN) on river Mausse halfway to NIXEVILLE-BIERCOURT we had stables in charge of Sergeant Ranck * horses on way to front were kept there when HQ stables were crowded. We were kept very up to the time armistice was signed.
Monday, November 11, 1918
All hostilities stop in the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in the fifth year of the war.
Major Swenson left us on November 2, 1918 give us a farewell talk in our billets* Lieutenant Watkins became our captain.
END OF DIARY
WALTER A. ERICKSON’S WW1 COLLECTION
Lens, France, The Devastated Coal Mining Region of Northern France, 220 coal pits, rendered useless. WW1. Image: Family Collection of Walter A. Erickson Remount Squadron No. 302, A.E.F., WW1.
3rd Corps Horse Show, U.S. Army, Neuwied, Germany, March 7-8, 1919. Image: Family Collection of Walter A. Erickson Remount Squadron No. 302, A.E.F., WW1.
Note: Ole has added this note about the above image on the 3rd Corps Horse Show:
"The Squadron made a very creditable showing in the 3rd Corps, Horse Shows held on the 7th and 8th of March 1919, taking blue ribbons in every class in which we entered in the harness classes, also winning the Championship Class of the entire show."
Farewell Round Up Program of the Wengerohr Remount Station, A.F. and G, 1919. Image: Family Collection of Walter A. Erickson Remount Squadron No. 302, A.E.F., WW1
Remount Squadron No. 301
Remount Squadron No. 302
Remount Squadron No. 306
Remount Squadron No. 310
Remount Squadron No. 312
Mobile Veterinary Section No. 308
Wagon Train No. 1
U.S. REMOUNT SQUADRON NO. 301, WW1
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U.S. Remount Squadron No. 301, WW1
Three Day Pass to Paris (Pvt. 1cl. Walter A. Erickson)
Palace Theatre Program, Paris WW1
Certificate of Promotion
U.S.S. Colorado, the ship that Remount Squadron returned home in.
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U.S. Remount Squadron No 302 WW1
Veterinary Corps in WW1
Leonard Murphy in WW1
Fort Ord Equestrian Center and Station Veterinary Hospital
U.S. ARMY VETERINARY CORPS HISTORICAL PRESERVATION GROUP
Motto: “Illic est Vires in Numerus” There is Strength in Numbers
“Working Hard to Preserve Our Country’s History wherever it is being lost”
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group is a group of individuals that are concerned about the preservation of the History of the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and Cavalry or wherever our country’s history is being lost in conjunction with our beloved “Horse and Mule”. There is no cost to join and membership is for life. We believe by uniting together in numbers we will be a more powerful force to be heard. Our membership list is private and only used to contact our members. Email us and become a member.
FACEBOOK: U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group
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U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group