My family is fortunate to have some vintage diaries preserved in our family treasures. I’m in possession of my great-uncle’s pocket diary from WWI and also my grandfather’s from that same time.
One wonders if these were given as a gift from a loved one to a soldier as he departed for France. Perhaps they were just something available in the commissary for the troops to buy on payday.
Whichever was the case, the wear-and-tear on the slim notebooks was considerable over time in the service. Perhaps the veteran brought it out to show the family over the years or to jog his own memory of the life or death struggle he survived.
The diary was the perfect place to record the names and home towns of pals so they could keep in touch after the war. I wonder if letters were exchanged or not.
Albert Vining served in Company B of the 852nd Infantry. On the right-hand page above, he noted the names of people he wanted to remember from that time. I’ll post them here in case ancestors might hunt for them online.
I was curious if his pals survived the war so I researched them on Find A Grave. The ones I found are highlighted here and you can see their gravestone and in some cases information about their life.
- Guy S. Prater, Iberia, MO. 1894 – 1986, age 92.
- August H. Siemens, St Donatus, Iowa. 1892 – 1972, age 80.
- Stanley C. Michel, Crasco, Iowa. 1911 – 1978, age 67.
- Claud Hunter, St. Ubert, MO
- Harry A. Sachs, St Louis, MO. 1890 – 1959, age 68.
- Fred R. Denker, 6931 Idaho Avenue, St Louis, MO. 1895 – 1968, age 73.
Albert used the pocket diary to log the movements of his company during the war. He was stationed in France. One of the places you see above is Badincourt. You can read more about Albert Vining’s WWI experience on the Hubpages site.