WILLIAM O. SWENSON 1917 - 1918 ORIGINAL, INTENSE MANUSCRIPT DIARY HANDWRITTEN BY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN FRANCE DUCKING DANGER WHILE DELIVERING DEADLY CARGO THROUGH WAR TORN FRANCE
CHAMPAGNE MARNE FRANCE 1917 Good+ Manuscript
On offer is a sensational archive of World War I manuscript diaries  and ephemera handwritten or accumulated by William O. Swenson a 23 year old soldier who was part of the 117th Ammunition Train, 42nd Rainbow Division occupied as a driver. The first diary, 2.5 x 4 inches has 42 well filled handwritten pages starts in Sept. 1917 to Oct. 31, 1917 mostly the trip to overseas, arriving in N.J. getting on boat, go to London, Paris, Parade Day, etc. The second diary that is 2.5 x 4.25 inches has 138 well filled pages starting Jan. 1918 to Dec. 27, 1918. This diary details much more intense war content. Here are some snippets: 'May 1, 1918 We landed at New Port New, VA and at 6:30 we pulled into the Chesapeake Bay and there was a tug boat pulled up beside us with women and 3 men in it. They were the welcoming committee from Kansas. We got off the boat at 10 am, the Red Cross gave us chocolate, a package of Camels and cookies. We lined up and marched up there, turned and passed in review of Gen. March. The shute was all decorated and had a banner from every state where the rainbow was from. We loaded our packs in trucks and started for camp. May 18, 1918 I wanted to go home so we finally started. There stood mama, she was surprised, I'll say she was glad. How good everything looked and so quiet and peaceful and to think I was free and oh so happy and home with mother. June 21, 1918 We went to Baccarat and got Inf. men and took them to Rheims and got home at 6 am. July 5, 1918. Drove to Bursy? Fe Chataen. Sunday morning: we went to the front with flying pigs for the 117th French Mortar Bat. July 14, 1918 The night of 14th at midnight the hell started. We got up and went back up a hill a manuvaled?? And stayed until daylight. The shells were lightning all around and the sky was as light as day. It was awful. They stopped shelling for a while just as I got there breakfast and went to the ?? And tried to get some sleep. I laid down for 15 min. And they started again. They started to shell the hospital and the shells were coming straight over our head and I decided to go to the hill again and just then a shell 12 yards from the ?? and blew up a dug out and threw the breakfast food full of dirt. Watch them shell the hospital and I went over there after they let up and it sure was a sight. Two men were killed and men laying and bed and it made me feel bad the rest of the day. Left for the front 175s Inf. 149. I hauled 400 rounds and worked all night. The airplane men dropped bombs and it was quite interesting. July 18, 1918 We went to the front with flying pigs for the 117th French Mortar Bat. We had an awful trip. Shell holes and muddy roads. July 31, 1918 When Suneanger was coming home on one of the trucks an airplane dropped a bomb and killed him. Aug. 1 1918 An airplane came over at dust and flew over us twice, he sure was low. We could see him but the machine gun drove him away. Oct. 10, 1918 Just got to bed when the huns started shelling the place. We got up and went down the road and we came back at 5 am. Archer was killed and dorms got his leg shot off. Oct 29, 1918 Met a French Lt. and a girl who could speak English and also an ex-soldier from Austria who was in Eng. Army. Jan. 25, 1918 Went back abut 10 miles after 4 loads of French mortar bombs or flying pigs and we stayed all night. Jan. 30, 1918 I went on the rifle range and beat the record for the day, 37. March 25, 1918 Went to 168 Inf. and got Lut. Stunley and Col. Bear of 167 and took them to Ahnuerler. Nov. 20, 1918 Went to Montrimeby?? The French had flags out and gave us a warm welcome. Got a room and had electric light in it. A fine room. This town is not shot up and it is a treat to get in a place and see civilization.' Last entry is Dec. 27, 1918. And still overseas. Ephemera includes: 30 X 34 inch blueprint map of the Motor Battalion, 117th Ammunition Train, 42nd Rainbow Division, through France, bBelgium, Luxembourg and Germany. (few pin holes on creases, this is folded up, so it has creases); 19 x 25 black and white map of Nouvelle Carte Nord-Est folded and has some tears along some of the creases; 5 real photo postcards: 1. a soldier, perhaps William Swenson. 2. Soldiers Altenahr 1918-19 (On the back he wrote "I am not in here as I was with Div. Hdg. at the time"; 3. a group of soldiers; 4. R.M.S. Arabic and 5. Paris. Additionally pay records, clippings, autograph album, telegrams, French money, travel documents, tickets +++. Overall G+. HISTORICAL NOTES: THE Rainbow Division sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on Oct. 18, 1917 and was the fourth American combat unit to arrive in France and they became the first American troops to be entrusted with a whole sector of the western front on their own as they moved into the Baccarat Sector. In late June, they moved into the Champagne, a desolated battleground east of Rheims. On midnight, July 14-15, the greatest artillery barrage of the war opened the battle, guns every 10 meters along 42 kilometers of front on both sides roared for 4 hours, then 200,000 German infantrymen assaulted the French and American position. The battle of Champagne went on through the 15-17th most of the fighting was hand to hand with grenades, clubbed rifles, bayonets and trench knives. During the 3 days, the furious artillery barrage continued to rake all areas within 10 miles of the battle line. These three days of horror were subsequently labelled the "Champagne-Marne Defensive".