September 17, 1918 – Feeding the boys working in a war zone

Company A was busy these days 100 years ago. While the engineers were working on projects away from camp in Flirey, Jay and his cooks stayed behind getting meals ready for when they returned.

U.S. Army kitchens would have been ‘rolling’ or portable. I believe they often went with the work crews as they went to their work sites. That meant packing everything up in the morning, moving to the site, unpacking, firing up stoves and ovens, prepping food (and bad coffee) and serving it.

The paragraphs posted here from the book, ‘Our Memoirs’ is the only place I’ve found Jay mentioned other than official company day reports.

“For the next few weeks, “A” Company resembled more a wandering tribe of gypsies or a restless detachment of Bedouins than anything else.  Back and forth across the country we roamed, sleeping on a hillside here, or in some woods there, building a strip of road here, or bridging an entrenchment there, all the time wondering just when one of those whistling “G.I. Cans” that screamed so mournfully overhead and burst with such a roar nearby, would take a notion to make our more intimate acquaintance.  Life was hardly what you might term uneventful, for there was always a little noise, always a few nightly illuminations and that threatening drone of a motor overhead, and then we had our reserve rations and our friends the field mice, our pup tents that were good for nothing except to strain the rain.”

At one point, one of the officers happened upon a couple cows:

“These gentle-eyed creatures were a much needed addition to our company roster; we needed milk, needed it badly and how in the name of Sam Hill can you get milk if you ain’t gotta cow?  But at that time, that was not the question that bothered us; we had the cows – said cows gave an abundance of milk – we have evidence of the fact and can furnish valuable witnesses of unquestionable veracity, in the person of Wag. Wordell, Sgts. Sylvia and Fuhr and our erstwhile Mess-Sergeant Jay Shetler.

“But despite this fact the permanent order on our menu was “Cafe Noir (black)” – or at least as near an approach to coffee as could possibly be made in our kitchen, without infringing on the copyright!”

Our Memoirs: Company A, 301st Engineers

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