Louisiana French Soldier in WW1

as told in the Bonnes Nouvelles

In 1918, Arcille Guillory was sent to war in Europe. He had not been married long when he was drafted, leaving behind his wife, Cora O’Connor, and their country store in L’anse Grise (in Evangeline Parish). Arcille was a native Louisiana French speaker with only a few years of public schooling - it is said that he taught himself to read, write, and eventually speak in English. Interestingly, Arcille kept a diary of his experiences in the Great War, recorded in broken but intelligible English. His effort to express complex emotions and to record history in a near-foreign language makes this a valuable piece of Louisiana history.

In honor of Arcille and other World War 1 veterans, the Bonnes Nouvelles printed this personal record in its entirety. We hope that you appreciate the honesty and clarity with which Arcille writes. It was over 80 years ago that this young man, one who had probably never left home before, began his grand adventure abroad.

**Please note at the end of this diary information on Arcille's Division.

May 24 - I start drill in camp Pike, Ark. Barrick 28 co.

June 13th - I move to the Co. 18th, nexxt day we start to drill with rifle, hard time.

4th July - …We left camp Pike august 15th, we take train thursday morning 9:00 o’clock…, we stay on train till Sunday Aug. 19th. We get off at Camp Merritt, New Jersey. We cross that state. Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pa., Ohio, New York, New Jersey. I pass in Indianapolis, Ind.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; Utica, N.Y.; St. Louis, Mo. I see all that place… After, we stay 4 days in camp Merritt. We been wake up all time - we stay there 3 nights without sleep.

Aug. 22 - We get up on Friday morning, 12:00 get breakfast. We went back to our hard bed again, we just lay down with all clothes and we wake up again 2:00, we hike to the old boats at water… We hike 3 miles with 100# package on our poor back - hard to do it. We see lot poor men fall down on ground dead… we get at boat 10:00, we hike on small boat from New Jersey to New York city till Saturday morning, on big boats call English boat now we start from New York.

Aug. 23, 1918 - We stay on same boat till September 5<th 1918. We stay 12 long days & 13 night on the hard floor to sleep…

We have only old wrot {rotten} meat to eat, we can smell long way from table when they come with plate meat, it was old rabbet meat, we though {threw} away under table. {taken from conclusion}

We get of {off} the boat at Liverpool, England, on Sept. 5th. We was 3000 man on this boat for 12 days all together. I see hard time. Now we unload the boat at Liverpool Eng. After, we ride on the truck to the camp, we stay there 4 days, I pass my…27 year {birthday} at gard with rifle on shoulder all night long till next day 3 clock evening, change every 2 hour but 2 hour rest was not long, but 2 hour gard was very long when raining all time - walk with rifle all time, never stop walk, get tired. Well, I was with Mr. Edwin Robert of Breaux Bridge, La. and only 3 french man with me in small tent together. We stay there in camp in England 4 days, soon we get in camp in Liverpool. Ecta {Hector?} Pommier come to me, he told me he say your cousin here in camp. Well I say we will try in go see him but I say can’t go now because I am on gard, so bad. Well when I come back to the tent we went to hunt for see him- is was Sidney Barzare - he was so glad to see us again. We talk good while together…, we stay together, walk in camp together me and him and Edwain Robert & Ecta Pommier & Adam Naquin & we meet Arstile Fontenot & we talk about hard time - we been cry more then ten time when we was all together in England.

Sept. 9th - We hike to the train, we take train att Liverpool, England. We ride on train 4 o’clock evening till 11:00 night. We was 8 men in small room in car, 4 men seat one side, 4 men seat other side, our knee touch together. We get of {off} 11:00 at Manchester, England. We stay there one day & one night…

Sept. 10th - Comrade Robert…come told me he saay Barzare here… We just talk a few word together, he told me I can’t talk no longer because we have to go eat our lunch before to move… It was last time I see his face for talk with him. From there we went to take boat at Manchester, England. We hike 3 miles one evening for take boat to go cross English Chanley Gulf {English Channel}, but something wrong with the boat, can’t go that day. We come back to the same old camp again. We stay one more night…, we had no bed that night, we sleep 3 men together on 1 blanket on the floor. Now next day we hike again, we take the boat… 6’clock night, we ride on water till next morning 7:00, we get of {off} at La Hearvy {Le Havre} in old France.


See Arcille



All omissions and additions are noted, some commas have been added to assist in comprehension. Permission to reprint must be granted.


reset March 2000

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