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Herman Cunningham’s WWI Diary

Posted in Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

Last updated on November 25, 2006

Herman Cunningham, WWIMy great-grandfather Herman Cunningham, kept a diary of sorts during his tenure in the U.S. Army in World War I. My Aunt Carolyn, Herman Cunningham’s youngest daughter, sent me the following. Note: I’m not sure if this is the entire diary or an excerpt.

Registered for army: June 5, 1917
was examined: March 9, 1918
drafted: July 15, 1918

Camp McArthur, D Co. 4th bn Inf. repl Camp Waco, Texas.

Left Camp McArthur left Sep 16, 1918 A. Co. 5th bn Inf. repl Camp Waco, Texas. My rifle No. 216021.

Started across sea from U.S.A. Monday 23 of September 1918. Landed in France October 6, 1918 Sun. (Note from Carolyn: He didn’t write down the name of the ship…but, I have heard him talk about going over on the Princess Patowka …I don’t know how it is spelled, but he pronounced it the Princess Pa-toe-ka).

Came to the hospital Oct 12, 1918 [this might refer to his hospitalization for meningitis]

Left out hospital #11 BS #1 November 19, 1918

Loaded on the boat at St Nazaire Jan 26, 1919

Sailed Jan 27, 1919 1:15 PM

Come by the Azors Islands, Name this ship U.S.S. RIJNDAM, Bunk No. is 515 Troop space F 4 (decks are named from upper deck down, A,B,C,D,E and F. Troop spaces are lettered and numbered; the letter means the deck. and the number the troop space on the deck, counting from forward.)

Landed in Newport News Virginia from France on February 9, 1919 Sunday.

Left camp Hill Newport News, VA Feb, 16, 1919.

Towns went through:

  • Richmond VA
  • Petersburg VA
  • Raleigh NC
  • Abbeville SC
  • Athens GA
  • Atlanta GA
  • Fairburn GA
  • Longbeech Miss
  • Bay St Louis Miss
  • New Orleans LA
  • Donalds Vill LA
  • Bunky LA

(Some friends names were)

  • Frank Dankert, Clarence, MO
  • Joseph Stern, Route 1 box 48, Clayton S.D.
  • Willie Brown, St. Charles, Ark
  • John L. Moore, Pickrell, Nebr R#1
  • [Miss] Sadie F. Smith, R.R. # 8 Box 85, Waco Texas

Pay from U S Army

July 1918 $15.00
August 1918 $23.50
Casual pay January 11, 1919 $62 1/2 franks

payed in full in France January 25, 1919 $92.50

payed in U.S.A. February 12, 1919 $26.50

this is what I drawed

15.00 26.50
23.50 26.50
11.50 23.50
92.50 23.50
26.50 15.00
$160.00 168.00

Note from Carolyn: He also said “took a hike in Suedalia [most likely Sedalia] Missouri. Cleveland Ohio. I seen the lake Erie.” This must have been before he went to France.

I have to say that my great-greatgrandfather’s diary reminds me of his mother’s [pdf] in many respects, notably that both recorded what you and I might deem the minutiae of existence (purchases, cost, money earned, places the train went through) rather than thoughts and feelings (though my great-great-grandmother’s diary does get into that somewhat more than my great-grandfather’s does).

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