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What a Few of Us Experienced

By Corporal Jerry McCouliff, Co. G,
311th Inf., 78th Div., A. E. F.,
Oneida, N.Y.
   "All the world knows what we went through on the western front during the year 1918, but none as well as those that had the actual experience. It was no boy's play, but hard plugging day in and day out, rain or sunshine, It made no difference. We were there for a purpose and every man thoroughly understood and did what was expected of him. Company G. 311th Infantry, was made up at Camp Dix, and contained several Oneidans and others from this country, which left with the draft contingent from Wampsville in April, 1918.

   "This company, like all the rest of that regime, and also that Division, played their part well. Like others they had certain work to perform.

   "The Madison county contingent for Camp Dix, and which later made up the 311th Infantry, left Wampsville on April 29th, 1918. Arriving at Camp Dix the usual formalities of examinations, etc., were went through. Those failing to pass were ordered back , home. The majority of the men from this county passed through and were assigned to Company G, with which unit they remained throughout the war. On the night of May 18th we t broke camp and entrained for overseas. On the 19th we boarded transports at Brooklyn and set sail. Twelve days latter, or on May 31st, we landed at Liverpool, England, and were forwarded to Folkstone, a summer resort. Here we remained but two days and again embarked on boats for the ! crossing of the English channel. We landed at Calis, France, on either the 2nd or 3rd of June. and there witnessed our first battle engagement. A bombing party of German aeroplanes was paying a visit to the seaport with damaging results. 

   "From Calis we were moved immediately to the Arras sector, or along, that portion of the battle line held by the English, composed of Australians and Canadians. We were given all our training in this sector, and here it was we had our first baptism of fire. We were in this sector for some six weeks after landing, when orders came through moving us to the American sector around St. Michel. Arriving there we took over a section of the sector on September 14th, and from that time, October 2nd. hell itself broke loose. We were always going forward, never retreating, never lessening the pressure on the enemy. This was done by relays of our troops, sometimes fighting continually with maybe twelve hours sleep in three days. Then would come a rest period and in a day back we went at it again. About the first of October orders came which resulted in our being shifted to the Argonne forest sector, and there our actions in the St. Michel sector were duplicated again. In all of our first line work we were wading the majority of the time in mud and mire to our knees, and when allowed to rest we always hunted for the softest mud to lay in--making a little easier bed.
 
   "George Brown of Oneida was wounded in the back by high explosives in the St. Michel sector; Floyd Boose of this city also received wounds in that sector in September, while I lost my arm on the morning of October 16th. In mud and 'soup' the company lay awaiting the word to advance that morning. The night previous Sergeant Guyes of Buffalo, later killed in action, with fifteen men left for patrol duty across our front in 'No Man's Land.' Orders were for his return by daybreak. Daybreak came and the patrol was missing. A call for volunteers was made to go out and endeavor to locate the patrol and bring back the information they had secured. Myself with two privates of my squad started on our journey. Within twenty feet of the German front line we found the patrol stretched behind a demolished concrete house. They were practically exhausted and had lost some men. We secured the information and I started back to the company, when a sniper, located in a tree on the German front, paid me the compliment of turning his attention on me. An explosive bullet from his rife struck me in the left arm, and at that I started signalling to our company our position, and the return signal was for me to get down. By this time I had been creased by another bullet on the left side, and nipped by another in the right forearm. Sergeant Giles called to me as 'what the h--- was the matter.' I explained the best I could and pointed out. the sniper. A minute later he toppled from his perch from a bullet from the gun of Sergeant Giles. The latter then assisted me back to their position and tied up my arm the best possible.

   "For the next fifteen hours we laid in that position, not daring to move, as it was swept by machine and rifle fire. I cannot say enough for Lee Davis of Munnsville, a member of my company, and to whom I owe a great deal, if not my life. Despite the hot fire that swept 'no man's land' between our position and the company, Davis having heard that I had been 'knocked off,' started out shortly after dusk to look for me. Time after time we heard him calling 'Mac,' oh, 'Mac.' He at last came across our position and
from then until I was placed abroad an ambulance I was under Davis' wing. 

   "After dark we left for our company as best we could, Davis assisting me. Coming across a soldier I asked for water, and when this was refused, Davis saw that the soldier came across, using his revolver as his order. This same pistol came into use a short time afterwards, when Davis saw that I was placed on board an auto ambulance for the first aid station. At first the driver refused, but there was no arguments when the gun of Davis was again brought to the front. Three hours after arriving at the first aid station, I was again placed in an ambulance with two others and started for the field base. Going only a short distance we pitched head first in a shell hole. We were thrown out next to a church where we laid until the morning. Finally I arrived at Field Hospital No. 14 on the night of the 17th, where my arm was amputated just below the shoulder. Three days later I went to Base No. 47 at Beaune and then in November to Base Hospital No. 114 at Bordeaux, from where, on January 17th, I sailed for home and arrived at Hoboken on February 16th. The first person I met after arriving at St. Mary's Hospital, Hoboken, was Dr. George F. Mills of this city." 

    In Company G were the following men from this vicinity: Corporal McCouliff, the writer; Daniel Kinney, who died of influenza in France; Floyd Boose, Floyd Hansen, George Brown, Julius Hunziker, Earl McCormick of this city; Guy Brophy and Bill Brown of Canastota, and Lee Davis of Munnsville.

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