For the past several months we have been posting, day by day, Porter's transcription of the World War I diary kept by Hezekiah Scovil Porter of the United States Army's 101st Machine Gun Battalion, chronicling his days from October 9, 1917 until his death at Chateau Thierry on July 22, 1918. In this post I've collected the entire diary transcription in order, with page numbers and occasional explanatory comments. You can see images of the pages themselves here: Hezekiah Scovil Porter's WWI Diary.
Hezekiah Scovil Porter was the youngest of Wallace and Florence Gesner (Wells) Porter's seven children, born into the tiny town of Higganum, Connecticut on June 4, 1896. He attended The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut. Choate is now known as the school that "has educated generations of the upper-class New England establishment and the American political elite," but at the time it was only as old as Hezekiah himself. Twenty years later, John F. Kennedy would graduate from Choate, having been chosen by his class as the person "most likely to succeed." About Hezekiah, the Headmaster wrote:
Hezzie was always a man of deeds rather than of words. And his influence either on the field, or in the classroom, or about School in general, was of the kind that very definitely made us a better School for his being part of it. In his Sixth Form year Hezzie was President of his class, and in the vote which was taken toward the close of the year, he was almost unanimously chosen as the member of his Form who had "done most for Choate." He was also voted—and there were no near competitors— the "most popular," as well as the man in his class "most to be admired."
But Hez never had his chance to become President. As with many of his generation, his service ended on the battlefields of France. After graduating from Choate, Hezekiah attended Yale University. But he left during the fall of his sophomore year to join the Army. After four months he was at the front, and five months later he was killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry.
The following quote, and the one above, are taken from Yale in the World War, by George Henry Nettleton (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1925). You can read a somewhat fuzzy but still legible copy of the article on Hezekiah Scovil Porter by clicking on the images in the middle of my Memorial Day, 2009 post.
On the morning of July 22, 1918, in the course of an American attack on Epieds, north of Château-Thierry, Hezekiah Scovil Porter, Private in the 101st Machine Gun Battalion, was killed in action. His diary closes abruptly with an entry recorded the night before while his company was awaiting the dawn which was to bring the expected advance. Next morning in the midst of the attack he met instant death in the open field as he was hurrying forward with ammunition for a machine gun.
Hezekiah Scovil Porter is my husband's granduncle. That diary the article mentions? Porter has it. He labored much to photograph and transcribe the pages of the diary, in honor of the 100th anniversary this year of Hez's death. The images can be viewed here; the transcription follows. (The original is in black; annotations are in red.)
Family note: In the pages below, you will see references to mail Hez received from family members. Conspicuously absent are communications from his father, mother, and one of his brothers, who had all predeceased him: his mother in 1910, his father in 1912, and his oldest brother, Ralph Wallace Porter, in 1915.
October 9, 1917 - July 21, 1918
H. S. Porter
101st Machine G. Bat. (Machine Gun Battalion)
(places he went)
Le Havre, France
Mont les Neufchateaux "
Lifol le Grand "
Brienne le Chateau
Bar sur Aube
Fontaine Fr. (This seems out of place as it is in southwest France, near Grenoble; could it be Hontaine?)
St. Blin "
St. Agnan "
Liouville " (It exists on Google, after you scroll down some from the famous person of the same name.)
Jouy " (Jouy is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France)
Menil la Tour "
Bois de Hazelle
near Fleury (During the Battle of Verdun in 1916 Fleury was captured and recaptured by the Germans and French sixteen times. Since then, it has been unoccupied. During the war, the town was completely destroyed and the land was made uninhabitable to such an extent that a decision was made not to rebuild it. The area around the municipality was contaminated by corpses, explosives and poisonous gas, so no farmers could take up their work. The site of the commune is maintained as a testimony to war and is officially designated as a "village that died for France." It is managed by a municipal council of three members appointed by the prefect of the Meuse department.)
Vitrey le François " (Vitry-le-François is a commune in the Marne department.)
La Ferte " (La Ferté-sous-Jouarre is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne département in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is located at a crossing point over the River Marne between Meaux and Château-Thierry.)
Montreul ? (Could not find in Google)
Belleau Woods (Actually spelled Belleau Wood)
Oct. 9th 1917
(Leaving Connecticut for Canada)
Left camp at Niantic at about 8 A.M. Train late at station. Started about 10 A.M. Went north via Saybrook Junction. Through Hig. (Higganum, Connecticut) Lyndonville Vt. last town went through while awake. Good reception there.
Oct. 10th Wednesday
Arrived at Montreal about 6 A.M. at docks. Boarded boat by 7:00 A.M. got 3rd class quarters – Rotten -. Set sail about 10 o’clock. Up St. Lawrence R. Pretty scenery. Poor grub. Arrived in Quebec about 8 P.M. Took on some Servians. (Servian is an archaic word for Serbian.) Saw rats around bunks when went to bed.
Oct. 11th Thursday
(Canada, on the St. Lawrence River)
Still going up river.
No excitement. Have to wear life belts at all times now. Felt as though had wash board around neck. Lots of snow on hills. Cold, getting rough to-night.
Friday Oct 12th
(Canada, at sea)
Rough & rocking.
Everybody sea sick. Stayed up on deck nearly all day & tried to sleep when not sick. Didn’t eat all day.
Saturday Oct 13th
(Canada, at sea)
Felt fine this A.M. Pulled into Halifax about 9:30 A.M. Other transports besides ours loaded with American troops. Took on some Canadians. Loaded on provisions this P.M. Nothing doing this evening.
Sunday Oct. 14th
Fine day. Set sail this P.M. at 3:30. Nine ships with us. All going together.
Monday Oct. 15th
Fine day. On guard this A.M. No excitement.
Tuesday, Oct. 16th
Very foggy. Boats going straight ahead today. No excitement.
Wednesday Oct. 17
Foggy this A.M. Clear this P.M. Concert by fellows this evening.
Thursday Oct 18
Cold this A.M. Hail storm in morning. Cloudy all day. Nothing doing.
Friday Oct. 19th
Colder. Same sort of weather. Sighted a ship this P.M. which proved to be a freighter.
Saturday Oct. 20th
Cold to-day. Have got a cold. Nothing doing all day. Rather rough this evening.
Sunday Oct 21st
Raining, rather windy. Met our convoys this P.M.
Monday Oct. 22st
Raining. Very stormy & rough.
Tuesday Oct 23rd
(At sea, then England)
Saw land for first time since left this A.M.
Left two or three freighters at Glascow (sic) I guess. Going around northern coast of Ireland. Can see Irish coast very plainly this P.M. Going faster. Arrived in Liverpool about 6 P.M. Off the boat & right onto the train. On train all night. Queer trains. Small, jerky. Didn’t sleep much. 8 of us in one (24th Oct.) compartment. Arrived at Borden about 5:30 A.M. About 2 mile hike to camp with packs. Got straightened out this A.M. Pretty cold. Fine country. Large encampments here. Lots of other Americans. Rain & blowing. Mud.
Oct. 25th Thursday
(October 24 is part of previous entry.)
On Kitchen. Up at 4 A.M. Still lots of mud. Broke camp after breakfast + to station + boarded. Arrived in Southampton about 11 A.M. 3 mile walk to camp. Fine country. Mud. Lots of Americans downtown tonight + had a good feed.
Oct. 26th Friday
Fine day. Nothing doing in particular. Quite cold. Downtown this evening and had a feed.
Oct. 27th Saturday
On detail to unload provisions at freight yards. Downtown tonight . Feed + bath.
Oct. 28th Sunday
Wrote letters this A.M. Went on a short hike this P.M. Downtown this evening and had a feed.
Monday Oct. 29th
(crossing the English Channel; France)
Up early this A.M. Rolled packs to go away. Left about 1 P.M. Down to boat + waited till about 5 before off. Left Southampton + went across to Havre (sic) France. Awful trip across. Very rough + no place to sleep. Oct. 30th Arrived about 10 A.M. long hike to camp. All up hill. In tents again on board floors. Raining + muddy. Lots of Canadians here. 7/8 of them are Americans. Good night’s sleep.
Wed Oct 31st
(October 30 is part of previous entry.)
Rolled packs this A.M. Late mess. Left this P.M. for R.R. station. Long and hard hike. 2 hrs. About 7 miles. Had to wait 6 hrs. for train. Boarded train about
12:15 this evening. Rotten sleep. 8 in small compartment. Like Eng. Trains.
Thurs Nov 1st
Rode all day. Slowly. Broke coupling. No other excitement. Bully beef + hard tack for grub. Another night of bum sleep.
Friday Nov. 2nd
Arrived In Neuf Chateau (sic) about 9 A.M. Hiked over to Mont Neuf Chateau this A.M. Other American troops. Saw lots of them on way today. Put in small new Barracks with headquarters. Pretty good quarters.
Sat. Nov. 3rd
Up late. Had good sleep. Breakfast at 9. Nothing doing all day.
Sunday Nov. 4th
Went for short hike this A.M. Filled beds with straw. Nothing much doing.
Monday Nov. 5th
Up early. Went on about 6 mile hike this A.M. Sitting up exercises afterward then double time back to camp. Drill this P.M. then another hike mostly up hill. Letter from Polly this evening. (Polly was his sister, Florence Adeline Porter.)
Tuesday Nov 6th.
Walked to town this A.M. All got steel helmets. Back late. Dinner late. Hungry. Little talk by Hartford pastor this P.M. then hiked to woods for firewood. Tired + sore feet tonight.
Wednesday Nov 7th
Laid up today with bum feet. Didn’t
do anything much.
Thursday Nov. 8th
Raining. Went after wood up in woods after wood this A.M. Went again this P.M. Tried to clean off some of mud on mess strut this P.M. Stoves installed in our barracks this P.M.
Friday Nov. 9th
Hiked over to a town this. Raining + got soaked. Raining too hard for doing anything this P.M.
Saturday Nov. 10th
Rain hard this A.M. No calls. Went on guard this P.M. at 1:30. On 1st relief 1:30 to 5:30. Quite comfortable in guard house by fire. Got feet warm + dry for 1st time in about a week. One fellow came down with measles tonight + all in our barracks
Sunday Nov. 11th
Cold. Nothing doing. Can’t go out around anywhere. Turned in early tonight.
Monday Nov 12th
Saw sun for 1st time since we’ve been here this A.M. Played cards. hike after wood.
Tuesday Nov 13th
Cards this A.M. hike after wood this P.M.
Thursday Nov 14th (sic; this may be Wednesday, Nov. 14 or Thursday, Nov. 15 - the next entry is Friday, Nov. 16)
Cards this A.M. hike + wood this P.M. Fine day.
Friday Nov. 16th
Cards this A.M. Wood + drill (cal) (calisthenics) this P.M. Mail this evening (Choate News).
Saturday Nov. 17th
Cards this A.M. Examined practice trenches + bombs this P.M. + got wood. Mail this evening. Letter from Louise (his oldest sister, Harriet Louise (Porter) Walker).
Sunday Nov. 18th
Played cards + wrote letters. Went for walk this P.M.
Monday Nov. 19th
Lecture this A.M. Wood, hike.
Tuesday Nov. 20th
Lecture this A.M. Wood this P.M.
Wednesday. Nov. 21st
Lecture this A.M. M.G. (machine gun) instruction. Hike + calisthenics this P.M.
Thursday Nov. 22nd
Lecture this A.M. Wood this P.M. Mail tonight. Testament from Polly (his sister).
Friday Nov. 23rd
Lecture this A.M. Long hike this P.M. to + around Neuf Chateau.
Saturday Nov. 24th
Wood this A.M + Lecture. M.G. instruction this P.M.
Sunday Nov. 25th
Nothing doing today.
Monday Nov. 26th
Out of quarantine today. After wood.
Tuesday Nov. 27th
Wood this A.M. Took down guns today + cleaned them up. Hike this P.M. to Neuf Chateau.
Wednesday Nov. 28th
Wood this A.M. On guard at 1:30. Rest of bunch get ½ holiday.
Thursday Nov. 29th
Off guard at 1:30. Big Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, crullers. After dinner walked to Neuf Chateau with Rogers + Day. Came back with Tracy + Dennis, stopped at Café Menager.
Friday Nov. 30th
Hiked over to range beyond Pargny. Firing in A.M. D. Co. with us. Dinner from field kitchen. Cleaned guns after dinner + came back without a halt. Mustered for pay when back. Big “red dog” game this P.M.
Saturday Dec. 1st
Signed the pay roll this A.M. After a load of wood. Headquarters went after wood this P.M. Wasted all P.M. trying to find wood. Walked all over hell + brought back a small load just before supper. Worked down at Y.M.C.A. after supper.
Sunday Dec 2nd
Cold. Snow squalls. Church + communion at Y.M.C.A. this A.M. Dr. Miel. Lecture this A.M. there by William Irwin on Italian situation. Very good. Worked at Y.M.C.A. after supper.
Monday Dec 3rd
Drill all day long with guns out in lots. Wet feet, pretty cold. Down at Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Tuesday Dec. 4th
On K.P. today. Lots of work. Took out insurance of 6,000 today.
Wednesday Dec. 5th
After 2 loads of wood this A.M. M.G. practice this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening. Mail – letter from Phil (his brother, Philip Wells Porter, who was also serving overseas).
Thursday Dec. 6th
Over to range all day long. Mail tonight – letter from Louise (his sister).
Friday Dec. 7th
Drill with M. Guns all day out in fields. Down at YMCA tonight.
Saturday Dec 8th
After wood this A.M. Nothing much doing this P.M. Mail tonight Package from Louise (his sister).
Sunday Dec 9th
Wrote letters this A.M. Down to Neuf Chateau this P.M. Cabled to Whit (Whitney Scovil Porter, his oldest living brother and Porter's grandfather).
Monday Dec. 10th
Over to range today. Mail tonight – letter from Louise (his sister).
Tuesday Dec 11th
Paid this A.M. – first time since enlisted. Wood this A.M. M.G. drill this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Wednesday Dec. 12th
Over to range all day. General Edwards came around.
Thursday Dec 13th
After wood this A.M. Went on guard at 1:20 P.M. Good bunch on. Mail – Bill (his brother Phil’s wife; her given name was Orvilla), Polly (his sister)
Friday Dec. 14th
Off guard at 1:20 P.M. Down town for supper with Tracy Goodwin, Matthews.
Saturday Dec 15th
Cleaned up the town this A.M. On detail this P.M. to fix up new orderly room. Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Sunday Dec 16th
Fooled around all A.M. Wrote letters this P.M. Down to Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Monday Dec. 17th
Snowing. On detail to unload lumber. All day.
Tuesday Dec. 18th
Over to range all day. Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Wednesday Dec. 19th
Over to range again today. Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Thursday Dec. 20th
On building detail all day. Y.M.C.A. this evening.
Friday Dec. 21st
On building detail this A.M. Gas masks issued today. Lots of 1st class mail. – Polly (his middle sister) 2 – Bill (his brother Phil's wife) – Esther (his youngest sister, Esther Caroline Porter) – Louise (his oldest sister) – Mabel (Mabel (Davis) Porter, his brother Whitney’s wife and Porter's grandmother).
Saturday Dec. 22nd
Gas mask drill this A.M. Fooled around this P.M.
Sunday Dec. 23rd
Day Beach + I walked to Domremy (Domrémy-la-Pucelle). Visited home of Joan of Arc, Church where baptized, place where saw vision basilique (basilica). Great place.
Dec. 24th Monday
Fine day. On special detail this A.M. Went to Neufchateau this P.M. Little celebration at mess hall. Young show, present to officers, feed, giving out of packages. I was S.O.L. Big time the old shack tonight.
Dec. 25th Tuesday
Xmas tree + combined young festival with people of town. Presents for kids. Package from Mabel + Whit (his sister-in-law and his brother). Down at Y.M.C.A. this evening. Favors, free sandwiches, cocoa. Talk by Mr. Kearney (Kenney? Kerney? Kinney?) ambulance driver.
Dec. 26th Wednesday
On special carpenters’ detail all day. Y.M.C.A. this eve.
Dec 27th Thursday
Detail with carpenters again this A.M. + P.M.
Dec 28th Friday
Snowing hard. Nothing doing this A.M. On
guard at 1:10 P.M. Cold night.
Dec. 29th Saturday
Cold. Off guard this P.M. Wrote letters.
Sunday Dec. 30th
Great day. Fooled around.
Monday Dec. 31st
Went to range – lot of snow d- cold. Big time this eve in the shack.
Tuesday Jan 1st 1918
Holiday. Fooled around all day. Down to Mlle. Alice this eve for tea. Another big time in the shack this evening.
Wednesday Jan. 2nd
Pistol practice this A.M.
Thursday Jan 3rd
Change of company. Cold. Nothing doing.
Friday Jan 4th
On K.P. all day
(There's a large space left before the next entry, as if he meant to go back and add something later, but did not.)
Saturday Jan 5th
Inspection this A.M. This P.M. off. Mail tonight.
Sunday Jan 6th
Fooled around all day.
Monday Jan 7th
M.G. drill this A.M. + P.M. Also this P.M.
Tuesday Jan 8th
Sighting practice this A.M. Dentist this P.M.
Wednesday Jan 9th
Snowing. Target practice this A.M. M.G. instruction this P.M.
Thursday Jan 10th
Snow. No drill. Target practice this P.M. Box from Polly (his sister).
Friday Jan 11th
On special detail this A.M. Sighting practice this P.M.
Saturday Jan 12th
Target practice this A.M. On guard at 1:30. Punk night.
Rain + snow. Off guard at 1:30. Y.M.C.A. this eve.
Monday Jan 14th
Drill this A.M. Target practice this P.M.
Tuesday Jan 15th
Pistol instruction. Rain M.G. instruction.
Wednesday Jan 16th
Pistol instruction. M.G. also. Rain + warm.
Thursday Jan 17th
Gas drill this A.M. Falling snow + stayed in quarters this P.M.
Friday Jan 18th
Warm. In quarters all day.
Saturday Jan 19th
In infirmary today another fellow with me.
Sunday Jan 20th
Still in (the infirmary)
Monday Jan 21st
Tuesday Jan 22nd
Still in – Bill Famely was let out today. Mail tonight – box from Polly (his sister).
Wednesday Jan 23rd
Out (of the infirmary) this A.M. but in quarters.
Thursday Jan 24th
Were paid this A.M. On 500 range this P.M. Was in
target trenches under fire.
Friday Jan 25th
M. G. drill this A.M and P.M. too. Warm + fine day.
Saturday Jan 26th
On kitchen all day.
Sunday Jan 27th
Over to range at Concourt all day. All M. guns in 26th div. on one range. Great sight. Home late. Talk by Col. Parker
Monday Jan 28th
Same thing today. Home a little earlier
Tuesday Jan 29th
Same thing again.
Wednesday Jan 30th
Pistol practice this A.M. Drill this P.M.
Thursday Jan 31st
On our range all day with M. Gs.
Friday Feb 1st
Drill this A.M. On range this P.M. digging
implacements (sic) for guns.
Saturday Feb. 2nd
Co. went to range. Was supernumerary of guard so stayed home. Fire this evening about 1 A.M. Called to go on guard at 3:30 A.M.
Sunday Feb. 3rd
Great day. Off guard at 8 A.M. Wrote letters + read all day. Letter from Bill (Orvilla, his brother Phil's wife) this eve.
Monday Feb. 4th
Inspection + cleaning up this A.M. Cleaning and lecture this P.M.
Tuesday Feb. 5th
More cleaning and inspection this A.M. Went to Neufchateau this P.M. + brought up Fords for Co. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this evening.
Wednesday Feb. 6th
Another trip to Neufchateau for Fords this A.M. Worked on cars this P.M.
Thursday Feb. 7th
More cleaning up. Worked on cars all rest of day. Mine is fine shape now. Supper at Mlle. Alice’s this P.M.
Friday Feb 8th
On K.P. Up at 4 A.M. Company left for Lifol le Grand at 3 P.M. Went with the kitchen. Arrived there at about 6:30. Had to get supper, pack stuff on cars. Off at 9:30 – some day. Tried to sleep in barracks with no blankets, etc.
Saturday Feb. 9th
Up at 3:30 A.M. Marched to station with junk & loaded it on cars. Were off after breakfast at 6:30 A.M. On box cars – 37 in ours. Some crowd. Rode all day. Slept but little
Sunday Feb. 10th
Detrained at about 4 A.M. at Braisne. Unloaded our Fords etc. Had breakfast + started out in Flivers. Ate dinner at a town all shot to pieces. Continued in afternoon thru wrecked towns + landed at CheVregny. Town completely wrecked – not a house left. I Live in barracks – some in dugouts. Got a better sleep.
Monday Feb. 11th
Fine Day. Went around town exploring trenches + dugouts.
Tuesday Feb. 12th
Fine day. Drill this A.M. Moved into different barracks this P.M. Saw a Boch (a slang term, of various spellings, for German) airplane bring down an observation balloon.
Wednesday Feb. 13th
Drill for gas this A.M. + with guns. Drill + short hike this P.M.
Thursday Feb. 14th
Gas drill + short hike this A.M. Drill with guns
Friday Feb. 15th
Gas drill + gun drill this A.M. Went on guard at 4:30 P.M. Cold tonight
Saturday Feb. 16th
Cold. Off guard at 4:30 this P.M. Appointed a driver again. The Company went to trenches tonight. Bob Skinner drove my car up.
Sunday Feb. 17th
Fine day. Took an all day walk + went nearly to 3rd lines. Saw a German plane brought down this A.M.
Monday Feb. 18th
Worked on cars all day. Fooled around.
Tuesday Feb. 19th
Fussed with Flivers all day. Nothing much doing for us.
Wednesday Feb. 20th
On K.P. all day. Mail tonight – 3 letters.
Thursday Feb. 21st
Worked on cars this A.M.
Worked in kitchen grinding coffee this P.M.
Friday Feb. 22nd
Fussed on cars. Nothing much doing.
Saturday Feb 23rd
Same old stunt. No excitement.
Sunday Feb. 24th
Worked on cars this A.M.
On guard this P.M.
Monday Feb. 25th
Off guard at 5 P.M.
Tuesday Feb. 26th
Worked on cars all day. The Bosch (slang for Germans, same as "Boch" above) shot down a balloon that was up over our heads here this P.M. Some noise.
Wednesday Feb 27th
On K.P. all day. Drove up to front this eve – took some “C” men up + brought back some of our fellows – they returned tonight. Awful night. Dark as pitch – raining hard.
Thursday Feb. 28th
Nothing much doing today. Worked on cars some this P.M. Got orders tonight to be ready to go to Front tomorrow.
Friday March 1st
Spent most of day getting ready + packing up to go. Order came about 6 P.M. that they didn’t need me. Heard Dr. Shankin of Wesleyan speak this eve over in dug out. Snowing + cold – not so sorry I’m not going.
Saturday March 2nd
Snowing + blowing + cold. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing this P.M.
Sunday March 3rd
Punk day – nothing doing.
Monday Mar. 4th
Drill this A.M. Snow. Short hike this P.M.
Tuesday Mar. 5th
Drill this A.M. On guard at 1:30.
Wednesday Mar. 6th
Fine day – warm
Off guard at 1:30
Thursday Mar 7th
Fine day. Drill this A.M. Hike this P.M.
Friday Mar. 8th
Warm + like spring. Drill this A.M. Played ball + quakes this P.M. (Quakes may be a form of craps.)
Saturday Mar 9th.
Calisthenics this A.M. General clean up. Inspection this P.M.
Sunday Mar. 10th
Packing + cleaning up. Getting ready to go to trenches again. Company left this P.M. Drove up one car, came back with some “C” men. Was driven back again. Meantime guns set up. On gun guard soon as back. Quietly off at 12:30 A.M. Up again at 4:45 A.M. to
Monday Mar. 11th
stand to. Breakfast + to bed. Gun guard + digging at 11:30 A.M. Relieved at 4:30 P.M. Not much excitement.
Tuesday Mar. 12th
Gun guards at 1:30 A.M. off at 7:00 A.M. Gas guard at (12 overwritten 4 or 4 overwritten 12) 30 A.M.
Wednesday Mar. 13th
Some gas + a few shells this A.M. Off guard at 4:30 P.M. Out at 7:00 – find (sic) until 9:30. On gun guard at 1:30 – off at 7:00 A.M.
Thursday Mar. 14th
Guard again at 4:30 off at 8 P.M. On again at 1:30 A.M. off at 7 A.M.
Friday Mar. 15th
On guard from 12:30 – 4:30 and from 8 – 1:30 P.M.
Mar. 16th 1918
On again from 12:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. heavy gas shelling. Packed up + left for Vregny
Sunday Mar. 17th
On K.P. all day. Worked hard.
Monday Mar. 18th
Rolled packs – in cars + off at 9 A.M. Drove to one station beyond Soissons – dinner – loaded cars + luggage on train. Off at about 4:30 P.M. In box cars – no sleep.
Tuesday Mar. 19th
Up at 7 A.M. Unloaded cars + luggage – breakfast – off again overland at 9 A.M. Brienne le Chateau to Fontaine. Nice little town. On guard + drew “orderly.” Couple of luxurious chateaus – officers quarters. Whole bunch of us quartered in a big old mill.
Wednesday Mar. 20th
Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Went to Bar sur Aube – great town. Good feed etc.
Thursday Mar. 21st
Inspection this A.M.
Hike up a mountain here this P.M. Went to town – had a good feed and went to “movies”
Friday Mar. 22nd
Short drill this A.M. Played ball. Spent rest of day packing up. Swim.
Saturday Mar. 23rd
Fine day. Up at 5:15 rolled packs and off at 8 A.M. Rode about 10 miles. Beautiful country. Stopped at Colombey (Colomby) – slept in a regular bed with “Bob” + “Dock”. Great sleep.
Sunday Mar 24th
Moved out at about 10 A.M. Stopped at Vignory – all put up in a big barn. Downtown in evening. Took a walk – Old
Castle on hill. Slept in hay.
Monday Mar. 25th
Up early and off at 7 A.M. Stopped at St. Blin. Expect to stay here a while. Spent day in straightening out.
Tuesday Mar. 26th
Cleaned up this A.M. for inspection. Took a bath this P.M.
Wednesday Mar. 27th
Cleaned up billets + guns + pistols for inspection. Dental inspection this P.M.
Thursday Mar. 28th
General show down inspection lasting all day. Ball game with 104th this P.M. Went over to see Ken Page at Manois this evening. Also saw Hersey from Kent. Had a good time.
Friday Mar. 29th
Rain. Did some packing this A.M.
Nothing much doing.
Saturday Mar. 30th
Rain. Nothing much doing. Got day off. Went over to Manois but 104th had gone.
Sunday Mar. 31st Easter.
Rain. Went to services at Y.M.C.A. Read this P.M. Went to Y.M. this eve.
Monday April 1st
Rain. Up at 3:45 A.M. Packed + ready to start at 5:50 A.M. 1st platoon off in Fr. Trucks. Rode all day through Neuf-Chateau + Toul. Hiked about 2 ½ miles to camp at Menil la Tour. Mud a foot deep all around. On guard worst luck. Punk night. Borden was a picnic side of this place.
Tuesday April 2nd
Rain but clearing at noon. Off guard at 11:30 A.M. American Sector here. Regulars. Balloon. Menil la Tour
Wednesday April 3rd
Cloudy. Nothing much doing. Down to Menil this P.M. with Bill Hart + had supper – eggs + wine.
Thursday Apr. 4th
Cloudy + rain. Played cards all day.
Friday Apr. 5th
Fine day. Played cards.
Cleaned guns + pistols.
Saturday April 6th
Cloudy Nothing much doing.
Sunday Apr. 7th
Rain + cloudy. On K.P. all day.
Monday Apr. 8th
Rain hard. Played cards + read all day.
Tuesday Apr. 9th
Rain. Cards this A.M. Worked this P.M. on road.
Wednesday Apr. 10th
On guard at 1:00 P.M.
Thursday Apr. 11th
Off guard at
At 1 P.M. Gas scare last night. Slept + took bath this afternoon. Went to “movies” at Y.M. in evening.
Friday Apr. 12th
Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Bunch off on hurry call.
Saturday Apr. 13th
Worked on incinerator today. Short drill this P.M. Cards.
Sunday Apr. 14th
On K.P. all day
Monday Apr. 15th
Rainy. Cleaned guns. Cards. Read. Report that boys got two guns from Bosch (Germans).
Tuesday Apr. 16th
Rain. Gas drill. Read Cards Wrote.
Wednesday Apr. 17th
Cards + read this A.M. On guard at 1 P.M. Bunch came back this evening. Were in a hot place
lots of exciting stories. Brought back all sorts of German souvenirs.
Thursday Apr. 18th
Off guard at 1 P.M. Took bath this P.M. Read + wrote.
Friday Apr. 19th
Rainy. Orderly today. Nothing much doing. Inspection.
Saturday Apr. 20th
Quite noisy. Gas this A.M. at 5 o’clock. All prepared to go at any minute. Cleaned ammunition this P.M. Slept alert this evening.
Sunday Apr. 21st
Rainy. Church this A.M. Read. Mail from home.
Monday Apr. 22nd
Big attack on this front 102 + 104 lost lot of men. All packed + ready any time to move. Expected a call last night. Have to sleep with clothes
on now. Rainy.
Tuesday Ap. 23rd
Sun for short time now rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing much doing. Couple fellows from 102nd told of experiences this P.M.
Wednesday Apr. 24th
Rain. Short drill this A.M. Nothing doing.
Thursday Apr. 25th
Sun. Short drill. Hard rain this P.M.
Friday Apr. 26th
Nothing doing this A.M. Short drill this P.M.
Ball game. Hurry call about 6 P.M. Off in a short time + had long ride. Landed at a place near St. Agnan + after walk of about 3 miles with equipment Set up guns in woods. Went back to P. C. on ration detail. Early morning when
back to Positions.
Saturday Apr. 27th
Slept little last night. Have to stay in open trenches – no shelter or dugouts. Sun shone all day + we slept.
Sunday Apr. 28th
On guard and at 3 A.M. we got S. O. S. signal. We fired a 11 minute barrage and they say it was good. Cloudy and started to rain this P.M. Raining hard, all soaked, mud. Awful night. Another S.O.S. at 11 P.M. and we fired another barrage – short one. Lot of artillery action.
Monday Apr 29th
All look like drowned rats this A.M. Rain still. Wet, hungry, cold. Sneaked down to infantry dugout this A.M. + got warm. Cleared off. Half of crowd went to dugouts in
rear. We were relieved at 8 P.M. Went on food detail this P.M. Awful long + rough walk. 2 miles. Dugout pretty good. Fire in it. Turned in about 12 o’clock – dead tired.
Tuesday Apr. 30th
Pretty good sleep. Up to guns at 8 A.M. Weather clear. Slept a little this P.M. All pulled out of this hole at 9 P.M. Left six guns in new posts with four men on each. Rest of us went on to Liouville. Quarters good – good supplies. Staying in old wine cellar underground. One + ½ mi. to lines. Town not hurt much – some people here – pro-Germans. On guard to 11 P.M. Our bunch carry food to men on outposts.
Wednesday May 1st
Rain. Nothing much doing. Off guard
at 11 P.M.
Thursday May 2
Fine day. Sunshine – quite warm. On food detail this A.M. Went in old church here. Very pretty for little town. Rolled packs this P.M. 102nd relieved us this evening. Left here about 12 o’clock and went to (left blank).
Friday May 3rd
Got up late. Feeling punk. Nothing doing all day. Moved into private billet this evening. 6 of us in one room good beds.
Saturday May 4th
Weather still good. Pretty town. Paid today. On guard at 1 P.M. Feed tonight.
Sunday May 5th
Off guard this A.M. Went over to Aulnois to Yale Mobile Hosp. Unit this P.M. Saw Len Beadle +
Jes Willard. Bud Clark wasn’t in. Rained this P.M. Had supper with Pete Sargent.
Monday May 6th
Fine day. On fatigue. Nothing much doing. Feed this evening.
Tuesday May 7th
On K.P. all day. Letter from Irene Plige from Merrifield. Co. B played ball with 103rd Eng. after supper, beat them 5-0.
Wednesday May 8th
Rain. Wrote letters + played cards. Feed tonight.
Thursday May 9th
Inspected this A.M. Lot of fellows had to go to hospital + get a scrub + a rub.
Friday Mar 10th (May 10)
Pretty good day. Nothing much doing. Ike had to leave us today. Ben Baum
is up with us now. Feed tonight.
Saturday Mar. 11th (May 11)
Warm day. Nothing much doing. In P.M. went to Yale Unit, saw Bud Clark, Ken + Jess. Storm came up + I stayed to supper.
Sunday Mar. 12th (May 12)
Went to communion service held by Dr. Miel + later to mass meeting. Ball game this P.M. Tie score in 7th + had to call game because of rain. Band of 103 + YMCA girls there
Monday May 13th
Wrote letters. Walk this P.M. Played cards all evening.
Tuesday May 14th
Nothing much doing this A.M. Cleaned guns this P.M. Practice game of ball.
Wednesday. May 15
Wrote letters. Went in gas house this A.M. Bath this P.M.
Thursday May 16th
Warm day. Walked up on hill this A.M. Played ball this afternoon with 102nd. Ball game this evening with Yale Mobile Unit score 6-2 our favor. Rode over in cars.
Friday May 17th
Nothing doing this A.M. Warm day.
Saturday May 18th
Fine day. Ball game this P.M. with 103rd. Won again. 101st Band.
Sunday May 19th
On K.P. all day. Ball game with 101st eng. got trimmed. Rain.
Monday May 20th
Warm day. Ball game 2nd team U.S. 103rd. Won again. Good game.
Tuesday May 21st
Fine day. News of moving. On guard Pack up this P.M. Farewell supper at Rose’s. Out at 7 P.M. Beautiful ride thru woods. Warm, still, moonlight. Off at Ausonville. Part of Co. took up positions. Rest of us back to the old swamp again. Slept in car.
Wednesday May 22nd
Beautiful weather. Pitched pup tents in woods. Went over to see Elsie Janis in outdoor entertainment by Y. M. She sure did give us all a great time. Northy and Stan went up to front this evening.
On K.P. all day. Hard day – lots of work.
Friday May 24th
Colder. Rainy. On guard at 1:00 P.M. Corp. (corporal) of guard. Nothing much doing.
Saturday May 25th
Nothing doing this P.M. Off guard at 1.0 P.M. Took bath. Walk to Sanzy.
Sunday May 26th
Down to Menil la Tour this P.M. Ball game with 101st Eng. Boxing, band. On guard this evening.
Monday May 27th
Off guard at 1:00 P.M. Nothing doing.
Tuesday May 28th
Saw Wood – Olive Wood’s brother from E. City. On guard at 1. P.M.
Wednesday May 29th
Off guard at 1. P.M. Down to Menil la Tour after supper. Minstrel show, band. Dixie + I went to Royaumix to see couple Lieutenants. Fine time.
Thursday May. 30th
Went to Bouque this P.M. in Trucks. Punk
ball game and punk boxing bouts.
May 31st Friday
On K.P. all day.
June 1st Saturday
Nothing much doing all day. Ball game this evening with engineers.
June 2nd Sunday
Paid this A.M. Took walk this P.M. Saw ball game. Went to concert this evening. Miss Kerne – Metropolitan soprano. 101st band.
June 3rd Monday
Played cards this P.M. Down to Menil la Tour + Rayoumix. Over to Lieut. Kramer’s place.
June 4th Tuesday
On K.P. all day. Feel pretty punk.
June 5th Wednesday
Down to Y.M. this A.M. Played cards this afternoon.
Ball game + show this evening at camp Snelling.
June 6th Thursday
Sick. In bed all day.
Friday June 7th
In bed this A.M. Up a short time this afternoon. Back to bed early.
Saturday June 8th
Loafed around most of day. Ball game this P.M. with old Co. A.
Sunday June 9th
Hung around. Walked to Royaumix this A.M. Ball game this P.M. concert band + speaker after supper.
Monday June 10th
Came up to front tonight + took Morril’s place. In big woods.
Tuesday June 11th
Played cards. Pretty good place up here.
Wednesday June 12th
All had to “stand to” from 2 A.M. on. Some big shells dropped very close. Slept all morning. Came home this evening. Shelled road while we were walking down to Bernicourt. One darn close call.
Thursday June 13th
Up rather late. Took baths this P.M. + got clothes. Down to show this evening.
Friday June 14th
To Y.M.C.A. this A.M. Had pictures taken this P.M.
Saturday June 15th
3rd platoon came back last night. Band concert at 51st brigade hdq (headquarters).
Sunday June 16th
Shelled Royaumix this A.M. Church service
Y.M. this P.M.
Monday June 17th
Rain. On working detail beyond Mandrais. Nothing doing this P.M.
Tuesday June 18th
On K.P. all day. S.A. this evening Pie + coffee.
Wednesday June 19th
Shelled Royaumix again this A.M. Short order drill.
Thursday June 20th
Rainy. Short drill. Got pictures this eve. Stopped at S.A. and got pie and coffee.
Friday June 21st
Cleaned guns. Short drill. Inspection of guns + exercises this P.M.
Saturday June 22nd
Rainy. On working detail near Mandrais this A.M. Took
baths over near Bouque this P.M.
Sunday June 23rd
Church this A.M.
On guard at 1 P.M.
Monday June 24th
Off guard at 1 P.M. Short drill. On working detail all afternoon. Ball game
Tuesday June 25th
Packed up and cleaned up whole camp this A.M. Left this P.M. for Foug. Nice town – quite large. In good barracks.
Wednesday June 26th
Went to Toul (Dommartin-les-Toul) – walked in. Great dinner – nice town – wonderful feed at Y.M.C.A. for supper. Stopped on way back to see 82nd Div. 5 miles over. Pretty tired but had great time. Good bath here in morning. Went thru ammunition factory here.
Thursday June 27
Took walk this A.M. + P.M. Thru factories. K. Page came over this evening.
Friday June 28
Walked around all day – beaucoup de bus.
Saturday June 29th
Packed up this A.M. + rode short dist. to Void. Large town but nothing doing. Had swim. Prommenade (sic) ce soir.
Sunday June 30th
Up early for breakfast. Started on journey at 6:30 stopped at Vitrey le François. Good ride was lot of country. Large town – pretty – good time ce soir.
Monday July 1
Up early + early start – long ride to Coulommes. Saw lot of country – farming
aviation – camps. In late. Good supper at one of houses. Pup tent camp.
Tuesday July 2nd
Walk this A.M. After wood with truck. Great dusty ride. 18 miles from Paris.
Wednesday July 3rd
Moved tents. Nothing much doing all day.
Thursday July 4th
On K.P. no rations till 3 P.M. Only coffee for dinner. Paid at 5:30. Great feed at house with couple fellows. Everybody happy ce soir.
Friday July 5th
Nothing doing all day. Had a wonderful feed this eve at 5:30 P.M. at farmhouse. Broke camp + loaded on cars at 8 P.M. On trucks. Rode till 10:30 P.M. Held up in La Ferte until 5:30 A.M. Met 59th going in.
Saturday July 6th
Slept in Fr. taxis parked in square. Started off at 5:30 + went about 2 mi. to next town. Stayed here all day. Slept – only cup of coffee to eat. Pulled out at 5 P.M. Stayed up in patch of wood till dark – then came up here to woods on road to Chateau Thierry. Supper at 12 o’clock. Slept in shallow pits in ground.
Sunday July 7th
Spent morning improving our holes to sleep in. Dr Hesselgrave came up this P.M.
Monday July 8th
Nothing much doing all day. Played cards.
Tuesday July 9th
Made our dugout bomb-proof. Played cards.
Wednesday July 10th
Nothing doing in particular. Played cards. Rainy.
Thursday June (sic) 11th
Rainy. Nothing doing.
Friday July 12th
No excitement. Rainy, muddy.
Saturday July 13th
Rainy. Went into Montreul this A.M. to infirmary. Saw kitchen. Packed up this eve and moved about mile farther toward line in another woods. Hiked. Had to “stand to” all night with rest of division in expectation of attack. Nothing doing. Cold.
Sunday July 14th
Got settled in new place this A.M. Pup tents in wood. Slept most all day
Monday July 15th
Cleaned up the place.
Gas mask inspection and drill this P.M. Went after straw after supper. Hell broke loose soon after in bed. All up + had to roll rolls in the dark. Hell of a time. Stand to all night + then nothing doing.
Tuesday July 16th
Slept most of day. Rain. Pistol inspection + drill. M.G. inspection.
Wednesday July 17th
Rain. Nothing much doing all day. Most of crowd left for front tonight. Corporal + 3 men from each squad. Thunder showers most of night. Say they had a tough night of it.
Thursday July 18th
Nothing doing all day. Rest of us got orders to move up to-night. Carried grub from cars to bunch with full
pack. Hell of a racket. Laying around in woods.
Friday July 19th
Sat around all day in same place. Moved out tonight. Back in trucks to same old place. Late supper.
Saturday July 20th
Pitched shelter halfs this A.M. Nothing doing all day. Good reports from front. All got baths this P.M. We needed them.
Sunday July 21st
Up + rolled packs before breakfast.
And that is the end. There is no more to Hezekiah Scovil Porter's diary, save some brief notes on where he served, in someone else's handwriting.
On Monday, July 22, 1918, his unit went into battle, and Hez was killed.
From Yale in the World War (George Henry Nettleton, Yale University Press, 1925; pages 324-325), quoting a letter written shortly afterwards by a "Yale classmate and comrade-in-arms," comes this description of his death:
Two guns had been placed in a wood, and ammunition was needed. "Hez" was one of the detail to take it up. They had to cross a wheat field, and a splinter [shrapnel] caught him square in the chest.
History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion has a longer description of the action from the "War Diary of a Machine Gunner," compiled from the field diaries of several of the soldiers by the Rev. Charles E. Hesselgrave, a Congregational minister serving overseas with the YMCA.
JULY 22. At daybreak both companies were sent out into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau's battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was to wait to protect Rau's left against possible counter-attack. We were shelled and M. G. bullets flew pretty thick. Bristol of C Co. was wounded. After a while the attack crumbled in spite of Rau's gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions. A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau. There they found him with only a few of his men left. The guns were set up on the edge of the wood in a defensive position. B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102d Inf. on the town of Epieds over on the left flank. The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line. The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so tliat no moving thing was visible in the field. M. G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead. We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense. We soon found ourselves in the midst of it—direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105's and Austrian 88's which come with the shriek of a thousand devils. The fumes choked us and the concussions half stunned us. It was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed. Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded. An infantry captain just ahead called frantically to us to put an enemy M. G. out of business. He pointed out a pile of barrels where the gun was supposed to be hidden, and two guns of Lt. Sandberg's platoon, Sgt. Hart's section, went into action in the edge of some woods and peppered the spot for some time. It was here that the whole attack was checked, and we got word from the infantry that it was pulling back and that we should do the same on our own hook. The company was drawn to the left into cover of woods, reformed, and sent back, skirting around a rise for concealment. We assembled in a patch of wood a little way back and waited for possible counter-attack and to cover the withdrawal of the doughboys if necessary. They came filtering back, bringing their wounded with them, and soon we were also returned to our old place where the guns were set up to repel any attack that might come from the left. Dr. Hesselgrave appeared with cigarettes and chocolate which was indeed welcome, as we had nothing to eat. This was not a healthy place for the Doctor to be in, but we knew he would come to us when we needed him most. There was a dressing-station near us, and it was awful to see the wounded and shell-shocked fellows brought in. About 6 p. m. the Boche put down a fearful artillery barrage close in front of us, and we were pulled back a hundred yards to escape the effects of this fire. A detail had been digging a grave for Porter, but were unable to finish. A bit later, orders came from Division that we would go back into reserve for a time. We thought our troubles were about over for that day, but were mistaken. Down on the road near Champluisant Farm, just east of Sacerie, our machines were lined up, waiting to take us out, and as we were loading up there came the familiar shriek and two shell burst in the field close by. A moment later there came a deafening blast—all was confusion. Two more shell had exploded together right among our cars. Two of them were overturned. We got the wounded into cars as quickly as possible but, to make matters worse, a mule-cart had become wedged in the road ahead and blocked all traffic, so we could not move out. Finally the way was cleared and the cars with the wounded made for the first-aid station at Sacerie Farm. Harold Smith and Ralph Henry of B Co. died. Brackett, Weld, Olschefskie, Hampson, Haskins, Barber, Maun, Rogers, Burden, Fothergill, Mercer, Burnham, Sancyzk of B Co. and Fabryk of C Co. wounded. Robinson and Gunning of B Co. shell-shocked. Our cars had been doing fine service most all day in taking out wounded. Two of C Co's cars were hit and one wrecked. At last we found ourselves in bivouac in the woods.
JULY 25. ... A detail went back and buried Porter.
More details about his burial are from the Geni genealogical website entry for Hezekiah Scovil Porter, compiled, I believe, by Charles E. Rounds, Jr., grandson of Hezekiah's brother, Philip Wells Porter.
A photograph of the temporary gravesite is in the possession of Charles E. Rounds, Jr., 107 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, MA 02108 (2013). In the photograph are two of his comrades who had survived the battle. One is from Wethersfield, Connecticut (State Street) and one is from Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonter is Wagoner Arthur A Barlow, a farmer, who was born Aug. 10, 1895. The Connecticut man is Sergeant Everett H. Hart, born July 10, 1894, who in civilian life had been a "member" of the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. Bordering the field, just beyond the grave-site, is a thick forest of mostly birch saplings. The underbrush is heavy.
In a letter. dated July 27, 1918, more details of the initial "make-shift" interment of the remains of Hezekiah Scovil Porter are communicated in a letter from his commanding officer (Philip S. Wainwright) to Whitney Scovil Porter (one of Hezekiah's brothers): "...The grave is marked near the head by a cross-shaped blaze on a tree with "Hezekiah S. Porter--101st. M.G.B. U.S.A.--July 22d, 1918" carved into the wood. His helmet is also placed at the head on a bayonet with his name scratched on it. I removed his wallet which contained a small sum of French money and his diamond ring, which was all the personal property we could find." [The referenced wallet, which is bloodstained, is in the possession of William Porter Wightman, grandson of the said Whitney Scovil Porter (2017)].
Hez's remains were later retrieved and given a permanent resting place in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France: Plot A, Row 4, Grave 18.
Requiescat in pace, Hezekiah Scovil Porter.