Delaware Military History

1919 Diary of William Berl Jr.

William Berl Jr. was born on May 17, 1886 in New Orleans. The family moved to Delaware
when he was ten. Berl graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 1905, He also attended
Goldey College. He enlisted in the Delaware National Guard in 1911.

Berl served on the
Mexican Border during the Punitive Expedition to Mexico with the First
Delaware Infantry Regiment as 1st Lt. F Company from 18 June 1916 to 15 February 1917.  He
served once again during the Great War from 25 March 1917 to 29 July 1919 with the
Pioneer Infantry Regiment as commanding officer Company G, Delaware National Guard. He
married his wife Marie Elizabeth Keimig in 1924. He was an executive with a Paint
Manufacturing Company in his civilian career.

Berl served as a civilian aide for Delaware to the U.S. Secretary of War from 1937 to 1941. He
was appointed as
Adjutant General for Delaware by Governor McMullen and served in that
post between April 1, 1940-1941. During World War II he served as State Director, Selective
Service System in Delaware from October 19, 1940 to September 1945.   He also served as
Wilmington Postmaster from 1948 to May 31, 1956. General Berl died September 1, 1968

As the commanding officer of Company “G” 59th Pioneer Infantry Regiment, Delaware National Guard,
Captain William Berl’s diary provides valuable insights regarding their history during and immediately
after World War I. The diary has a black leather cover and measures three inches by five inches with a
thickness of approximately 5/8”. On the cover is the imprint 1919. It was printed in France with French
titles such as “Janvier”. It is the property of Mr. Dick Berl, of New Castle Delaware, the youngest son of
William Berl. He was kind enough to loan the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation the
diary for the purposes of copying and transcribing it contents.  I have transcribed the diary exactly as it
was written to the best of my ability. I have anglicized the dates however, and added some notations where
appropriate, (in parenthetical italic).Capt. Berl had a reasonably legible hand, but space was limited in this
little book. For words that are illegible, or uncertain I have put my best guess in red.

Kennard R. Wiggins, Jr.                  26 April 2015

January 1, 1919

The band came yesterday and assisted me our little entertainment. Had resplendent dinner for
the men and the cooks presented me with a fine chocolate cake.
The Italian officers gave a dinner to seven of us. The food was splendid and we spent a most
enjoyable evening.

January 2, 1919

             The band gave a concert at 130 today.
             Took a bath this morning, the first I have had in a month.
             Received seven letters.

January 3, 1919

             Eight cards and letters toady.
I went to Sorcey and Commercy this PM in a side car and was hacking and made the going
very disagreeable.
             I brought back four bags of mail and there is still a lot that has not been sorted.

January 4, 1919

             Saturday morning inspection and when that was completed I started in to answer
some of the letters I have received in the last two days. I have written nine in all about the
biggest day of letter writing I have ever put in.
             The Major gave Halfprise the deuces this morning cussing him before the officers and
mess attendants.  (Possibly Major Bragdon, commanding officer of the 40th Engineers,
Camoflage Section, to whom Company G reported)

January 5, 1919

             Went to confession and Holy Communion this AM.
             Had some court martial findings returned this AM and when I came in for lunch
was cussed out by the Major for not haing returned there despite the fact that the orders
regarding them states that they shall be returned in 24 hours. This also before others.

January 6, 1919

             Went to the dentist this morning and much to my surprise had very little to do.
             Gave a farewell dinner to the Italian officers this evening but they all had left except
the commander.

January 7, 1919

             Moved today into quarters occupied by the Italian officers. My new billet is just off
Times Square being about sixty feet from the corner of Broadway and 42nd St.
             Also moved those of my men who were not properly billeted into quarters vacated
by the Italian soldiers.
             There was a heavy frost last night and today has been bright and clear, the sun
shining all day.  Did considerable draining on the streets.

January 8, 1919

             Spent this morning policing.
             At noon we learned of the death of Theodore Roosevelt and at 3:00 PM we had a
formation of respect.
             Another beautiful day and at night the new moon shining bright and clear.

January 9, 1919

             Had and inspection for shortages today. From now on an identified responsibility
exists. Rained nearly all day. Continued policing this afternoon.

January 10, 1919

             Another day spent policing. It is a big job and will probably require another full
week. We learned today that the men would start on their first leave Sunday.
             Found a cheque of the Aldine Serdest Co. for $5 in my trunk today.

January 11, 1919

             A very good inspection this morning. Tonight seven of us went to a dance at BJ&51
in Toul. I surely did enjoy talking to American girls again. Reached Raulecourt12:45.

January 12, 1919

             Arose at 5:15 this morning to inspect the men who were going on leave.
             Went to confession and Holy Communion at seven O’clock mass. Snow fell this
morning but turned to rain in the afternoon.
             My leave came through this evening.

January 13, 1919

             Continued policing today. I had expected to start on my leave this morning but had
to postpone it as one of the men is to be tried by G.C.M. (General Court Martial) tomorrow
for larceny.
             Started our schools tonight.

January 14, 1919

             Received orders for G & H to proceed to Rosieres-en-haye 7:30 AM tomorrow.

January 15, 1919

             Started on my leave this morning at 9:00 AM expecting to reach Paris at 5:00 PM,
but it was 11:05 before we arrived.
             Went to street where a man offered to guide us to a good hotel. We were shown to a
room and had hardly entered it when we found two women had followed us. It nearly took
blows to drive them off.

January 16, 1919

             McCann (2nd Lt Arthur F. McCann) told me that those same women were trying to
get into our room at 6:00 this morning. I did not hear them.
             Later we ordered some coffee and when a knock came McCann opened the door and
one of the same women came in, in a very thin nightgown and stood in front of the window.
Drove her out again.
             Fooled around Paris all day and went to Maxim’s for dinner but they saw us and
out. For some reason, it is forbidden to soldiers.
             Left Paris 8:05 arrived at Toul 1:50 AM.
             Manion and McCann went on to Nice.
             Saw Mrs. Wilson this afternoon.

January 17, 1919

             Left Paris at 8:05 PM and arrived at Toul 1:50 AM.
             Went around to En’s office only to find that he was leaving for Paris at 8:50. I was
there at 8:45.
             Telegraphed him and then took a room at the Metropolitan.

January 18, 1919

             Went to see if I could get any news of Einmals this morning and saw General
Pershing confer decorations on a lot of generals.
     Cess arrived just after noon.
             Met general Kean also saw Draper Brown

January 19, 1919

             Went to Mass at 9:00 then took a ride to Angey and saw the Chateau and from there
to Cehinon which we  had lunch. After lunch, liked over the town and the ruins of the
             Left tours o the 3:31 over an hour late arrived in Paris after 9:00 and found a room at
the Hotel Madison, Rue des Petits Champs.

January 20, 1919

             Left Paris about 9:00 AM in a big Packard touring car and reached Fountainbleu OK.
Stopped off for ten minutes to see the Colards. Reached Ferrars in time for lunchdespite a
             N the afternoon went to

January 21, 1919

             Two blowouts this morning. Had lunch at Bellgrade and continued on to Orleans
and Artezay. The roads were very bad. Returned by a different route which was much better
but there many cross roads at each of which we had to stop and determine our route.
             Diner at Bellgardeand back to Ferrars for the night arriving at 10:00

     January 22, 1919

             Left Ferriers at about 11:00AM and had lunch with the cousins at Fountainbleu.
             Reached Paris about 3:00 and did not register with the result that I was promptly
picked up by the APM. Registered.  Had diner at a little place that Ermalls knew where the
proprietress calls us all her children.
             Went to the Casino Paris at night.

January 23, 1919

             Left Paris on 8:00 PM train and arrived at Toul 5:05 AM nearly frozen to death.

January 24, 1919

             Went around to the YMCA hotel on arrival and had breakfast after which I went to
bed and slept till 1:00. Went to CE and found only my company is still at Rosieres.
             Called up Kelbu and arranged for transportation.
             Met (Harry B.)Van Sciver and learned seven men in “I” Company had been killed
             Secured a room at the Hotel-du-Bosquet

January 25, 1919

             The Ford called for me at 11:10 this morning and we reached Rosieres at about 12:20.
Everything is going along well and has grown considerably since we were here before.

January 26, 1919

             The men worked until 11:00 today.
             We had a visit from the Colonel and Major
             Went out after supper and found the earth covered with snow.

January 27, 1919

             Went to Toul this morning and tried to get transportation and carbide for our lamps
but without success.
             Got the school going again tonight.
             Tried to get some of the men bathed this afternoon but found the pump handle

January 28, 1919

             Sent out one of Kelton’s mechanics this afternoon to try to repair the pump on this
bath house at Rosieres. He hopes to have it finished by tomorrow afternoon. Did not because
nearly so much stuff today.

January 29, 1919

             This morning we had an inspector who arrived at about 11:00. After lunch I went to
Heudicourt to see Lanterman and found that he had taken a dose ofbichloride of mercury. He
went to the hospital this evening and I spent the night here.
             Snowed a little during the night.  

January 30, 1919

             Returned to Rosieres by side car this afternoon and found the men burning damaged
powder and exploding detonations.
             They were enjoying it immensely.

January 31, 1919

             The men who were on leave returned yesterday.
             Had a visit from the mayor of the nearby village this morning who asked me to stop
the men from stealing their wood. He was very decent about it ad I issued and order on the
     February 1, 1919

             Had an inspection and this afternoon went to Toul.
             Found some German acetylene lamps in a dump which gave a fine light.

February 2, 1919

             Went to Avrameville to church and took a walk of about ten kilos.
             Spent the afternoon reding ad sleeping and entertaining some friends of Keltons, he
having invited them to visit him, forgotten about it, and gone off for a walk.

February 3, 1919

             Spent the day n bed nursing my cold.

February 4, 1919

             Learned today that I am to go to the Infantry School at Clamecy, Department Nievre.
             A company of the 803 Pioneers came in last night.

February 5, 1919

             Had a visit from another inspector today but he only wanted to inspect H Co. and
the stables.
             Snow began to fall about 3:00 PM and everything is again covered.

February 6, 1919

             Drew rations today.
             Things going along quietly.

February 7, 1919

             Had a regular blizzard today, or rather this morning, and a heavy wind blowing.
             This afternoon the sun came out but it is still blowing a gale and very cold.

February 8, 1919

             This has been the coldest morning we have yet had and the snow crunched
underfoot a sure indication of extreme cold.
             Inspection this morning and no work except for extra fatigue men.
             The high wind still continues ad the snow has drifted considerably.
             A beautiful night with the moon shining brightly.

February 9, 1919

             Last night was the coldest yet. This morning went to Mass at Aisanville at 11:00.
             At about 3:30 this afternoon an artillery Lieutenant came I for two truck loads of
shrapnel fuzes and shells and we had to get men to load them.
             Another beautiful bright night.

February 10, 1919

             Went to Heudicourt today and find that the work there will be finished in about a
The ride was very cold.
Brought back a number of stoves and a mirror.

February 11, 1919

     Left Rosieres for Boucq about 1:00 PM and after considerable trouble with the Ford
Arrived at about 3:30.
     Spent the night with Satter.

February 12, 1919

Left Boucq about 7:30 and Toul 10:11 AM on what is known as the American Special. There
were only two coaches and a bunch of freight cars but Kelton persuaded a lieutenant to et
our men ride in the 2nd class coach.
     Had dinner about 2:00 PM.

February 13, 1919

     Traveled all night and arrived at Nievre at about 3:05 PM just in time to miss the 12:00 for
     Left on the 6:02 for Clamecy which finally started at 6:20 and after backing and filling for
ten minutes finally got under way.
     Arrived at 9:30 registered and was assigned to engineers school.  I tried to have this
changed to Infantry but was informed that the orders were that all Pioneers should be so
     While eating dinner at Mercers the buffet at the station, one of the men whom I had
transferred to the 19th Eng came in and I went with him to the Round House where I saw
the others.

February 14, 1919

     Changed our quarters today the six of us being in one small room.
     Tonight the rest have gone our, but I am staying in to write some letters.

February 15, 1919

     When we returned for lunch we found a notice on the bulletin board to be packed up by
one o’clock to return to Infantry School.
     Our baggage was not delivered until seven and we were moved back to #12 barracks
where we spent the first night.

February 16, 1919

     Roll call at 8:00 AM. Had a bath and then went up and tried to register but no one came
in. Succeeded in doing so this afternoon and drew my rifle and bayonet.
     Had another inspection at 3:00 PM and nothing else to do the rest of the day.

February 17, 1919

     First call 5:45. We started to work this morning. The weather is bad with a lot of rain.

February 18, 1919

     Rained all day.  The work continues but up to this time we have had no evening sessions.
     I am feeling very badly and am very much afraid that I am going to be sick. Two more
men were taken to the hospital today, making five from this barracks.

February 19, 1919

     Feel better this morning. This was helped out some by the sun trying to shine. Rain
started to fall again about 4:45.

February 20, 1919

The sun shone all day and I am feeling quite well again. Had corned beef three times today.

February 21, 1919

The sun shone again today but rain began to fall about 3:30 and it has rained ever since. Rain
fell all last night and promises to repeat tonight. Three more meals of corned beef.

February 22, 1919

     Washington’s Birthday and a holiday. Spent this morning cleaning my rifle and shoes.
Corned beef again for lunch and uneatable beef for dinner.
     Went to an excellent minstrel show this evening.

February 23, 1919

     Corned beef again for breakfast making eight meals of corned beef in the last nine. I had
roast beef for lunch but not well cooked , but had a good dinner.

February 24, 1919

     Reported to the hospital and was told to return tomorrow. Two more meals of corned beef
     This afternoon saw a double rainbow. Was the most beautiful I have ever seen forming a
perfect arch and touching very near lighting up the earth with its colors.

February 25, 1919

     Reported to the hospital again this morning and then went out on the range firing 300
yards preliminary and record. Made 40 at each.
     Rained all day hard and I don’t think it will ever stop. I had eggs for breakfast this

February 26, 919

     This morning was terrible on the range. It poured rain and as cold and disagreeable. In
the afternoon the sun shone bright hot but later on it began to rain again and it is still
     The river is very high and if it keeps on everything ill be flooded.

February 27, 1919

     Another rainy disagreeable day. Fire the 500 yards under very adverse conditions.

February 28, 1919

     A remarkable day in that it did not rain at all. Drew my pay today.

March 1, 1919

     School add day despite the fact that it was Saturday.

March 2, 1919

     Went to communion this morning. I spent the rest of this morning cleaning my rifle and
my shoes and the afternoon writing letters.

March 3, 1919

     A mean wet day. Rained without any let up.

March 4, 1919

     Did some shooting on landscape targets this morning. Tonight the new moon is shining
and the sky is full of stars.

March 5, 1919

     Hardly any rain at all today and the sun shone nearly all the time even when it was
raining. Tonight it is still clear.

March 6, 1919

     A mean cold rainy day. We wallowed around in the mud.

March 7, 1919

     A beautiful day, and by night the ground was dry in places. Tonight the moon is shining
brightly. Thought I was to have a ride in an airplane but it did not come off.

March 8, 1919

     Acted as Bn Commander in a maneuver this PM. Rained most of the day. Simmons was
taken to the hospital today and I found out also the Sgt. Frachowski was also there.

March 9, 1919

     Another mean day. Went to see Simmons and Frachowski in the hospital.

March 10, 1919

     A mean rainy day.  I was to command a battalion in an attack this afternoon but at noon
we were ordered to report to the Engineer Field for instruction.

March 11, 1919

     A bright sunny day spent listening to an engineer lecture.  Went to a show in the
evening which was very enjoyable.

March 12, 1919

Spent the morning observing and mapping and placing of emergency bridging and ferries.
The demonstration was very interesting and instructive.
The work was done well and very rapidly. In the afternoon we had lectures on the subjects.

March 13, 1919
     Had a trip in an airplane this morning. It was not very exciting but very interesting. This
afternoon heard an examination in tactics.

March 14, 1919

     This has been a beautiful day.  This morning we had a maneuver over very difficult
terrain. This afternoon a review of yesterday’s examinations.
     Tonight the full moon is shining bright and clear and there are lots of officers also full.

March 15, 1919

     Fair nearly all day. Had  splendid exhibition of stunt flying this PM. This morning took
an examination in musketry.  It is getting colder.

March 16, 1919

     Had to have our baggage out by eleven this morning. It is very cold. Formed at 8:30 PM
and marched to train. Left about 9:30. No heat heat and we spent a very uncomfortable night.

March 17, 1919

     Traveled on the same confounded train till we reached Bologna at 4:00 PM. Since 9:30 last
night we have covered about 200 kilometers. Left the troop train here and took the 433 fro
Neufchateau. Reached Toul about 10:30 and spent the night at the Hotel de Bosquet.

March 18, 1919

     Saw Sgt. West of the supply Co. at Toul and arranged with him to take me to Boucq.  Left
Toul about 12:30 arrived at Boucq found that the company was at Trondes and was sent
there by side car.
     Up to the time I left Toul, the rest had not come in.  Found thirty letters and two post
cards waiting for me.  Went to a show in Pagnytonight.

March 19, 1919

     Went to Nancy today with the YMCA people but I am sorry I went as they fooled away
so much time that I was unable to look around myself.

March 20, 1919

     When I went out for reveille this morning I found it snowing hard. It continued to snow
until abut noon when it turned to rain.
     Abut 3:00 PM the sun came out and a short time later hailed followed by more snowing
followed by more rain. Now the stars are shining brightly.
     McConnell Pvt 1st Class accidently shot himself in the foot this morning about 7:00. the
first accident practically in the company.

March 21, 1919

     A cold and dreary day. Rain began to fall about 5:00 PM.

March 22, 1919

     Inspection this morning and took count of al property for the accountability which
begins April 1st. The Major came over tonight with the Bn orchestra which gave us a concert.

March 23, 1919

     Went to mass at 1030.  this afternoon found three more letters in my trunk which had
come in while I was at school and which brings up the total to 45 received during that period.

March 24, 1919

     Clear almost all day.
     This evening was inoculated Triple B Lips vaccine and a short time later received word
that we were to move. Went to bed suffering from terrible chills.

March 25, 1919

     Had chills and fever all night as a result of my inoculation. Got up for reveille and then
went to bed where I stayed all day. Ate nothing all day.

March 26, 1919

     Felt a whole lot better today and we are all ready to move. Learned tonight that our cars
would be spotted at 7:00 AM Friday

March 27, 1919

     Started loading today and put on everything not absolutely indispensable. The 2nd Bn
show gave its 2nd and last performance tonight.

March 28, 1919

     Started loading first thing this morning but there were no more cars. Sent men down at
1130 nothing to do but wait for flat cars and A Company.
     28 men left at 1140 for trade school.  Learned at 1:15 that we were scheduled to leave at 5:
00 PM.   Left at 9:05.
     Edward Doyle, Company E had his arm fractured at 1130. Jar of train caused his arm to
be caught between rolling kitchen and water cart.
     Frank Conto fell in my  yard of RC at Neufchateau at 12:20.  The cats have eyes.

March 29, 1919

     Much to our surprise we kept going all night and arrived in Dijon at 8:15. Had breakfast
and then hiked to Motor Transport Park.
     During afternoon called on Major Rootl and Cos Hewlett, found both very agreeable.
Secured rooms at Red Cross Hotel.

March 30, 1919

     Went out to camp on 8:30 bus. Repeated last Saturday’s inspection owing to having
transferred the men who went to school.  Worked until 4:00 PM.
     Saw M Conner tonight also Capt. Terrell now a Lt. Col. 6th Div.

March 31, 1919

     Everything was frozen this morning. Reported to Major Root and ws ordered to furnish
tow details amounting to 70 men.  Fourteen men went on leave this morning.

     This month marked the termination of my course at Infantry School.
     One move recorded for the company during the month. It also changed my company
from third to right of line in the battalion and if Major Lank does not return to command the
First Bn will give us that place on the right.

April 1, 1919

     Furnished an additional detail of 26 men today. Also learned that the C in C would be
here Thursday and would hold a service in which we must take part. Wanner reported for

April 2, 1919

     A bright clear day. Met Major Davis this afternoon. He is to command the Bn in which
we will be tomorrow.  Companies G and E are to form a provisional company and will frame
the right of the line.

April 3, 1919

     The C in C was here this morning. The company under my command helld the right of
line as arranged.  The men presented a splendid appearance.  When the C in C approached I
snapped a salute and reported. He did not acknowledge the salute but stuck out his hand
asking, “How are you Captain?”

April 4, 1919

     Major Parks arrived today to check my property.  Went horseback riding this afternoon.
Spent the evening with the Major.

April 5, 1919

     Checked property this morning and went riding again this afternoon. Went to a moving
picture tonight. The Major told me this evening that the CO of troops here was very much
pleased with or showing Thursday.

April 6, 1919

     When I was heading for the bus this morning saw the Colonel’s car. Beats the Dutch
how promptly they are to visit you when you get to places like this.  Paid off today.  Played
baseball this afternoon.

April 7, 1919

     A quiet day. Lantersman was put in charge of the enlisted men’s mess and Wanner went
on as OD. Playe baseball after dinner but a thunderstorm came up.

April 8, 1919

     Eckles went to Is-sur-Tille this morning to draw equipment. This afternoon Captain
Hopkins took me to the hospital to a specialist who said the only thing that would do me
any good would be an operation. Also had an X-ray taken. Had dinner in a French officer’s
mess and then went to the movies.

April 9, 1919

Opened an account for the company fund and also a personal one today.  Played a game of
ball this evening and spent the night in camp for the first time.

April 10, 1919

     Went to the hospital this afternoon to be operated on but was told to return tomorrow
morning prepared to stay several days.

April 11, 1919

     Went to the hospital this morning and had a sinus on the left side of my nose punctured.  
When the surgeon had finished he looked at me in some surprise and told me that I had stood
it well marked me discharged but it took me two hours to get out of the place.  Played a game
of baseball this evening.  

April 12, 1919

     Held a short drill and inspection this afternoon.  The Lt. Col ad Supply officer came in
about 11:30. Went to see one of my men wrestle and one box this evening. My room wasa
finally completed today.

April 13, 1919

     Went into town to Mass at 9:00 AM. Took the Lt. Col. To Fixiss this morning and this
afternoon went through the music. Did not go South of the YMCA but had plenty of time.
     Rained hard this afternoon and turned very cold. Went to the movie La Tosca tonight .
When we came out the full moon was shining brightly.

April 14, 1919

     Nothing of any consequence. The day was clear but at night it simply poured.

April 15, 1919

     This morning started out to be  fine day but we had a couple of showers.
In the afternoon a very strong wind and several showers and one violent storm. It is very
cold. Had a bath and a haircut this afternoon.

April 16, 1919

     Heavy showers again today but tonight clear as a bell with a beautiful full moon.
Chaplain Kelly came this afternoon with Major Marshall and heard confession.

April 17, 1919

     Nothing of consequence.

April 18, 1919

     A fine clear day, though still cold. Played a game of baseball against the company this
evening and were badly beaten. Finished the payroll.

April 19, 1919

     Held inspection this afternoon and received a visit from Hiszel and Franklin Hughes.
Went into town with them and heard La Tosca.

April 20, 1919

     This morning dawned bright and clear but with a strong wind blowing. Caleb Crooks,
Frazier, Haines, Norris, Lt. Casey and I started off in a big Cadillac and went to Dole, to
Salinas, to Pontarlier, to the Swiss border where we were stopped. We returned to Pontarlier
for lunch and then went on to Ormans where I bought some lace and then to Bosancon.  
     From there to Dole and then to Sampano where we had to strip and change a tire.
     Back to Dijon for dinner. It was a wonderful trip covering nr all 285 kilometers. We saw
some beautiful scenery and took a number of pictures.  The mountains near the frontier were
covered with snow.

April 21, 1919

     Today was fair but very cold. Being Easter Monday, everything in town was closed.
Played some ball this evening.

April 22, 1919

     Still infernally cold. Kept pretty busy today. More baseball this evening.

April 23, 1919

     A beautiful day, but still cold. Played a splendid game of ball with our reorganized team
today and won 1-0.

April 24, 1919

     Raining and cold all day. Went to town to try to pay the Disbursing Quartermaster but
he had not returned. Was informed that my pay voucher for March had been lost.
Recommended Eckles and McCann for promotion.

April 25, 1919

     Despite the fact that it rained nearly all night today dawned clear as a bell.  This did not
last long and for some time it looked very much like rain and we did have a flurry of snow. In
the afternoon however, it cleared up again.

April 26, 1919

     Went to Is-sur-Tille this morning to draw supplies and returning ran into a heavy hail
storm. Received an order today to report fro preliminary examination for the regular Army
on the 30.

April 27, 1919

     Clear but cold.

April 28, 1919

     Went in to see Lanterman who is having a hard time of it in the hosp[ital but they would
not let us see him. At noon a regular blizzard raged for a while and this evening we are
having another even worse that the first.

April 29, 1919

     A lot more snow today and when it did not snow, it rained. Snow was falling last night
until 12:30.

April 30, 1919

     This morning I went into Dijon for my preliminary examination for the Regular Army.
They ordered me to report at 1:00 PM for physical examination but it was 2:15 before the
doctor arrived.  I was given a splendid mark.
     Went to a dance at the Hotel de Ville this evening.  Enjoyed myself very much. I was
notified that I had been placed in a General Court which is to meet tomorrow.  Major Root
invited me to share his box at the Friday.

May 1, 1919

     This is the French Labor Day and they expected to have trouble so no soldiers were
permitted to go to town.  It was necessary for me to attend a meeting of the General Court
Marshal.  Tonight there was a corking good show put on in the hangar.  The female
impersonators were remarkable and would have fooled me easily.

May 2, 1919        

     Had my voucher cashed today then went to see Lanterman and Duncan. After that went
to see Major Parks who is also sick. Went to the theater with Major Root at night. It is still
raining but very much warmer.

May 3, 1919

     The sun shone for a few minutes today but like yesterday the weather is not as cold. I had
a poor inspection today.

May 4, 1919

Threatening all day but no rain and much warmer. Winifred Bach came in today as a YMCA
canteen worker. She nearly kissed me when she saw me.

May 5, 1919

     A beautiful day. Nice and warm. Went to see Major Parks and found him up, also saw
Lanterman walking in town. Had lunch with Herzel. Played some ball in the evening

May 6, 1919

     Another beautiful day. Spent all morning and part of the afternoon on the service records.

May 7, 1919

     The fair weather continues. Went to a dance this evening and took Winifred Bach. She is
dancing better than she needs to.

May 8, 1919

     A beautiful day, played ball at night. Shower about 10:00PM cooled things off nicely.
Payed off.

May 9, 1919

The weather still continues fair and pleasant. Sitting of General Court.

May 10, 1919

     Court opened at 9:30 and continued until 2:30. Came out to camp and played ball with
the officers from Is-sur-Tille winning in a very poor game 13 to 12. Had five put outs, one
assist and one error.

May 11, 1919

     I signed my name officially 265 times today and initials twice. My men came back from
school yesterday and also those on leave.

May 12, 1919

     Received a bunch of mail today.

May 13, 1919

     Capts. Norris, Bacon and I were appointed a board to investigate the loss of Co. fund of
19th Aero Squadron. I will make one enemy by our decision. Also checked up on Capt.
Norris’ property. There is a beautiful full moon tonight.

May 14, 1919

     Started tow new cases today one with 19 specifications under four charges, the other 13
specifications under three charges. Was assigned to audit the council book of the 19th Co. 4
Regmt A.O.M.  It was interrible condition and I worked on it until 12:50 AM

May 15, 1919

     All the air Service mechanics pulled out this morning for which I am very thankful as
they are a very demoralizing influence having no discipline whatever.

May 16, 1919

     Was assigned the job of Welfare Officer this morning. Started another new case this
afternoon.  At 5:00 Pm was called on the phone and ordered to be ready to move tomorrow
morning early.

May 17, 1919

     My birthday also moving day. We left the motor park at 1:00 PM and arrived a our new
destination about 4:30.
     We are quartered in very comfortable barracks that were formerly used for a hospital and
the men are sleeping on spring cots and mattresses with running water in the barracks.

May 18, 1919

     Went to mass this morning. Did some work through the day.

May 19, 1919

     Left for Dijon to attend the session of the court arriving 9:50. Court continued to after 6:
00 PM so I took a room at the Hotel de la Cloche. Went to the movies at night and after that
danced in the hotel.

May 20, 1919

     Went to Is-sur-Tille this morning to draw pay on my March voucher but it was refused.
Bought some things at the commissary. Had lunch at HQs M. J. O’Park 721. Left my voucher
at Banne. Went to a show at night.

May 21, 1919

     Again went to Dijon for court this morning and on the way back drew my March pay
695 Francs. This evening our team played a game of baseball for a place in the league here and
won 4 to 3.
     Rubin one of the men who escaped last Saturday was shot and gravely wounded
yesterday morning at Besancon.

May 22, 1919

     Was appointed the acting Asst Executive Officer today.  This evening our baseball team
beat the Engineers.

May 23, 1919

Went to Dijon for court today and did not get back to camp until 8:00 PM.  Turned in payroll
voucher today.

My 24, 1919

     Kept pretty busy all day with my two jobs and tonight I am very tired and I have a fever

May 25, 1919

     Did not do much work today but received four letters.  Took a walk after diner through
Allerey.  The scenery was beautiful and I must try to get some pictures.

May 26, 1919

     Worked like the deuce until 3 PM and then went ot my quarters to read a little when I
heard Lt. Hurley come in and said he came to take us to Dijon for the G.C.M.
     Arrived in Dijon about 5:30 PM after a wild ride in a GMC ambulance. Court convened at
7:15 lasting until 10:45. We cleaned up all the cases we had started. Spent the night at the Y
officers club.

May 27, 1919

     Got up about 8:30 and after breakfast had my hair cut and then spent the entire morning
at HQ trying to get transportation back to Allerey.  Finally returned to Allerey at 4:30 by side
     Found on my return that we are to move on Thursday.  Also found a notice that I had
been recommended for the Regular Army.

May 28, 1919

     Went to Dijon this morning to close out my accounts and returned by Ford truck
reaching camp at 10:00 PM. Was informed upon arrival that Ennalls had called up from
Beaune. I hope I wll be able to see him tomorrow.

May 29, 1919

     Went to mass at 6:30 and about 8:30 Ennals blew in.  He is taking his first leave, to
Corsica. He stayed with me for lunch and left at 11:00
     Finished up what work there was for me as Asst. Executive Officer about 3:00 and left
camp at 5:30 hiking to the station at Allerey about 3 kilos. It was frightfully hot. Our train
pulled out about 7:00.

May 30, 1919

     Arrived in Le Mans  about 8:00 PM. Hiked to our camp about 4 kilometers but had the
packs carried by truck. Found on arrival that Bush was a Major and feel pretty sore about it.

May 31, 1919

     This afternoon we struck our pup tents and moved out another kilo into British hospital
tents and pyramidals. The Colonel has not yet turned up and I am anxious to see him to tell
him what I think of his discrimination in the matter of promotion.
     Voucher 3036 – 4 Jan 19 G.H. Fuchs Major 2 M.C.
     May 1, J.S. Cooper Capt MJC Apr. Voucher #138

June 1, 1919

     Played a game of baseball this morning and went swimming this afternoon. Our
passenger lists were brought to camp about dinner time and we received them at about 8:30.
Worked until about 11:00

June 2, 1919

     Went to town this morning and arranged to have the company photographed  but the
photographer did not show up. Worked on passenger lists until 5:20 AM. It was frightfully

June 3, 1919

     Worked all day on passenger lists and camp rosters. Saw a movie here in camp at night
but it was so cold that we had to bundle up in our overcoats.

June 4, 1919

     The inspectors examined our passenger lists and records today and found them in very
good condition. Had an excellent movie at night and it was much more comfortable than last

June 5, 1919

     Received eight letters and post card this morning and also had the Company’s picture
taken. Went in this evening and got the proofs which are quite good.

June 6, 1919

The first death in my company occurred this evening a man named Doolittle being drowned.
They worked over him for about two hours but without result.

June 7, 1919

     Regular Saturday inspection this morning and slept all afternoon. Went to confession and
then had a bath at the Junior Officers Club. Walked back to camp. It is frightfully hot.

June 8, 1919
     Went into town at 7:30 this morning and went to communion at Notre Dame de la
Coutusce with Pusey. We then wandered about town and came to an old house or rather
three houses 13, 14  and 15 centuries.  We were shown through. It was most interesting.
     Poletti (Felice) was buried in the afternoon with full military honors.

June 9, 1919

     Had our final field inspection this morning and also inspection of company counsel
books. Went through both with flying colors.  Nothing to do the rest of the day.

June 10, 1919

     Nothing to do all day, just hung around.

June 11, 1919

     Another uneventful day. Went to town and got the company pictures also had another
picture taken by an American.

June 12, 1919

     The American who took our pictures yesterday came out today and took our picture
again.  He delivered the proof this afternoon and it is excellent. We learned that we leave

June 13, 1919

     Received our orders for entraining today. It is troop Management Order 178 HQs A&C 12
Jun 19. There is a wonderful moon tonight.

June 14, 1919

     Left Le Mans at about 5:45.  The night was very cold and it was almost impossible to sleep
in those old GermanCoaches.

June 15, 1919

     We were due in Brest late this morning but did not arrive until 11:30 and the men had
nothing to eat until we did arrive. We hiked out practically to the same camp we occupied
when we came over.
     Saw a number of very beautiful towns this morning and some wonderful scenery.

June 16, 1919

     Had our council books inspected this afternoon! In the morning our men were given a
bath and clean uniform clothes.

June 17, 1919

     Two more inspections today I believe wind was up. Went to some bouts tonight but was
disgusted by the raw deal given the French boxers.  

June 18, 1919

     Did absolutely nothing today but this afternoon received orders for two details
tomorrow. Went to some fights this evening.

June 19, 1919

     Sent out our details this morning. I did not get up until 11:45. Learned today that we are
not on the sailing list up to the 23rd.

June 20, 1919

     Rain started to fall last night and continued to fall all day. It is very raw and disagreeable.

June 21, 1919

     Saturday inspection this morning. Spent the rest of the day reading.

June 22, 1919

     Went to mass at 9:30.  Passed the rest of the day quietly.

June 23, 1919

     Received orders to move to area 13 this PM. Also received notice that we would leave on
the 27th on the leviathan.  H, K & L came in last night.

June 24, 1919


June 25, 1919

     All quiet.

June 26, 1919

     Received word that we would probably move about noon.

June 27, 1919

     Left camp about 2:30PM and hiked to pier. Were loaded on a lighter and pulled away at 4:
     Supper at 8:30 and supplied 60 men for guard. Later furnished a detail of 75 men to handle
baggage.  Was assigned a place in a compartment but refused to sleep there and spent the
night on a lounge on C Deck.

June 28, 1919

     Kept our men pretty busy al day and again at night. Had breakfast in the regular salon
but had to go below for our next meal which was not until about 5:00 PM. Was assigned to a
state supper about 11:30 PM

June 29, 1919

     We weighed anchor about 6:00 AM. Went to mass at 9:00. Had our first abandon ship
drill at 8:15PM.

June 30 – July 3


July 4, 1919

     Received a radio this evening that Dempsey had beaten Willard in the third round.

July 5, 1919

     Docked about 14:30 PM, then went ashore, had supper and went aboard a ferry which left
its slip at 9:10. Our train pulled out at 10:10 leaving Eckles behind. He came along on the
third section. We reached Dix at 12:45 AM.

July 6, 1919

     Started right in this morning preparing for discharges the men were taken down at 10:00
AM and put through the delouser and the physical exam. The officers also were examined
and as a consequence Eckles and Lanterman were sent to the hospital with French itch.
     The men’s property was turned in and we moved to another area. Worked on the service
records until 2:00 AM

July 7, 1919

     Arose at 6:00 had a bath and shave and went to work on rosters etc. Continued until 12:
15. This evening I moved from bldg 508th 1302.

July 8, 1919

     The men were all discharged today and I am al through with the company except one
clearance. Went to the movies tonight at the Laferty theater.

July 9, 1919

     Put in an application for a fifteen day leave today after having secured all my clearances.
Went to the movies tonight.

July 10, 1919

     Received my leave this morning and left camp at 10:30. Left Philadelphia at 12:25. Stopped
in at the ?  then took a car home.
     Went to see Frank Hughes at the office and call on the Kenworthys at night.

July 11, 1919

     Called on Anna Young and Mrs. Francis this afternoon, and had dinner with the
Brassingtons after which we played bridge until one o’clock.

July 12, 1919
     Called on Judge Gray and Mrs Gray this afternoon and then went our to Kenworthys to

July 13, 1919

     Went to church at 11:00 o’clock today stayed home the rest of the day and tried to play
some bridge in the evening.

July 14, 1919

     Played bridge at the Bassingtons tonight.

July 15, 1919

     Went to Philadelphia this morning and bought a suit also dropped in at the Aldine. Had
a conference with Santmeyers this evening and tonight went to the Sorrels with Kathryn
Fletcher after much Corbin and I discussed the sector in which we had both operated.

July 16, 1919

     Received my proofs today. They are very good. Called on the Masstons this evening.

July 17, 1919

     A never to be forgotten day. Father bought an automobile. Wade, Binny and I spent the
day mucking the stalls out of the stable and cleaning it up.
     Called on Anna Young and while walking with her had a humble attack of vertigo.

July 18, 1919

     Went to the movies this afternoon and then went after father and Floyd in the machine.
Called on the Bassingtons this evening and played bridge until midnight.

July 19, 1919

     Drove my Mother and Aunt Christine to market this morning and them went to the
Continental to see about a job. Went to the movies this afternoon and called on the Wrods
this evening.
July 20, 1919

     Went to church at 9:00 o’clock then took Hank Christine to Fletchers. Lunched at the

July 21, 1919

     Drove Aunt Christine to the station this afternoon. Called on Van Sciver tonight and
found him packing up.  He leaves for Detroit tomorrow.

July 22, 1919

     Floyd went to Washington today and this afternoon I looked up Santmeyers and made
him promise to come across with $50 a month.

July 23, 1919

     Woke up feeling miserable and have been tired all day.  Drove Hattie ti the station this
morningto go to Cape May and then took Mother to market.

July 24, 1919


July 25, 1919

     Cleaned up everything and left for Camp Dix at 3:00 PM reporting at camp at about 5:45.
     Met Ramsey and went to a show at the Liberty.

July 26, 1919

     Reported for examination this morning and was sent to the base hospital. Was given tow
ounces of castor oil which certainly did work. Played bridge until morning.

July 27, 1919

     Was ordered to stay in bed all day. It surely is hot.

July 28, 1919

     Was discharged from the hospital this morning and reported back to the reviewing board
who sent me down for discharge. After making out all my papers they were confused because
of my classification.
     Will take up the matter in the morning.

July 29, 1919

     Sent my papers ina gain this morning and my discharge came through in time to catch
the 12:18 and the 1:25 from Broad Street.
     Found Helen at home.

July 30, 1919        

     I met Anne Troff at 10th and Market St. early this afternoon with Hansy who was going
to Claymont and offered to take me there. I stooped at the house and took Helen and the
     The crossroad is terrible. As I was coming down McKee’s Hill I had to stop in back of a
buggy because a truck was going the other way. I had just passed when an enormous Army
truck suddenly appeared on the right. I stepped on the power and cleared but it wrecked the
buggy. Fortunately no one was hurt.
     Called on Mrs. Butler tonight.

July 31, 1919

     Received my photographs today.
     Paid a short visit to Col. Doherty this evening and then went to Brassingtons.  Mrs. B,
Marian and I went to the movies.

The diary continues on faithfully recording for the rest of the year.  Berl notes his comings and goings, his
visits with friends, religious services, local travel, always the weather, traffic, and a job search.  It is a
record of re-adjustment to civilian life.
I have chosen to end my transcription at this point as my primary
interest is in his military career and his experience in World War I. There are a couple of noteworthy
postscripts related to his military service however. He called on some of his military comrades from time to

September 3, 1919

     Put in an application for the American Legion today.

In the notes at the end of the diary, Berl records his military service:
Enlisted 29 June 1911
     Corporal 16 November 1912
     2nd Lt. 15June 1912
     1st Lt. 11 march 1913
     Captain 24 July 1917

59th Pioneer Infantry Regiment History

The official history of the 59th Pioneer Infantry was printed in France in March 1919, and o
f necessity it is an incomplete story.  You can read it at
 The official company history of Company “G” is reprinted below
however. There is also a complete roster of the men who served, however, I’ve only provided
a roster of the principle officers and leaders below.

Company "G": Sorcy-sur-Meuse, Dept. Meuse
Capt. William Berl Jr. Commander, Wilmington
1st Lt John P. Eckles, Wilmington
1st Lt Leon L. Lynam, Carney Point NJ
1st Lt Stephen Curtis, Wilmington DE
2nd Lt William E. Gell, Wilmington
2nd Lt Arthur F. McCann, Elmira NY
1st Sgt Francis J. A. Riley

On Sept. 27., 1918 Company "G" was assigned to the 40th Engineers, Camouflage Section f
or duty and then marched to Sorcy-sur-Meuse where they were to be billeted. One officer, Lt.
Curtis and 17 men sere sent by truck to Nancy to act as drivers and mechanics at the
Camouflage factory there.  The following day, Lieutenants Gell and McCann and 61 men were
driven to Souhesme-la-Grande to erect road screening to the front lines, to prevent
observation by the enemy of allied troop movements. The remainder of the officers and men
were sent to Camp Gerard-sas in the Foret de la Reine to do the work of preparation for

On Sept. 30 two men were set to Leonval, two to Marbache, four to Montauville, and t
welve to Pannes to do field work on camouflage, or work in the dumps within easy range of
the enemy artillery. Ultimately, the company was scattered over an area of some 150 square
kilometers.  Twenty men were sent to Varennes on October 5.

After the cessation of hostilities, on November 23, the greater part of the company was r
e-assembled and marched back to Sorcy where it remained until December 13, 1918, when it
proceeded by rail to Rosieres-en-Haye to work at the ammunition dump.  On the 17th the
unit returned to Sorcy and on the 20th they marched to Raulecourt. Here, they remained
until January 16, 1919 when they entrained once again for Rosieres-en-Haye where they
remained for the next month until Feb. 24. They then moved by rail to Trondes where they
engaged in demolition work. Finally, they moved from Trondes to Dijon (Haute-Marne) on
28 March 1919.