A WWI Diary
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
The 1918 daily journal of Henry A. Michaud came to the Millinocket Historical Society in 2010 and was donated by Michaud’s daughter Mary Ellen and her husband Frank Schmidt. Henry Michaud arrived in Millinocket after WWI and began employment with the Millinocket Water Company and served as superintendent for forty years until his death in 1959.
The journal is for 1918 while Henry was serving in the 103rd Infantry, Maine National Guard in France during WWI. This group became part of the famed Yankee Division and arrived in France in late 1917 where they struggled to survive in the harsh winter without necessary cold weather gear. Since he was carrying this journal around with him, it is no wonder it is difficult to decipher. Written mostly in pencil, there are many smudges, and the handwriting and spelling are not the best. There are also evidence of cigarette burns on some pages.
Starting with the Jan. 1 entry, listed are place names in France, mention of many hours of drills, practice hikes, and travel to new locations by train. In February, he notes they “left for the trenches at 5 P. M.” and on a later day, “to the front again.”
Into April and May, many of the days are blank. There are some indications that they saw a lot of action during that period.
On May 10 he wrote,”3:30 gassed. In 101 Hospital. Ward C7.” In the next entry, he notes it was Mother’s Day. On May 13 he said “quarantine” and then he was “moved to 103rd hospital, ward F3.” Other information included with the donation indicates Michaud received the Purple Heart for this.
Still in the hospital May 19th he wrote, “Fritz came within 150 yards of hospital.” On May 21, he left the hospital and rode on the ration train back to his unit.
A July entry reads, “Left at 10:00. Into trench at 12. In holes til 8-9. Held lines
tonight.” Later, on July 20 he was “wounded in left leg.” July 21, “On my way to hospital on train. Fifteen cars. In third.” By the 23rd, he was back with his unit. A second Purple Heart would be given to Michaud.
During the next couple of months there is mention of movement, trenches, shelling, sometimes at a barracks with good water. On Oct. 18 “11 went to hospital, gas & wounded.”
Nov. 11, 1918 - This entry is short & concise like all the rest. No emphasis on any special happening. He writes, “Moved to warm ward. Bed 13. P. signed at 5:40. H. quit at 11:00.”
Later entries mention groups of men going home. He remained in France until April 5, 1919 until he was honorably discharged April 28, 1919.
The donors sent the museum a collection of Michaud’s war medals, lapel pins and several panoramic photos of his military unit. Included were his two Purple Hearts.
Photo is Donald Henry, another Millinocket WWI soldier for whom the American Legion Post is named.