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The following stories are from the diary of a soldier named Willard Newton. He served with the Hornets' Nest Riflemen and the 105th Engineers of North Carolina during World War I. His diary appeared as a series entitled "Over There For Uncle Sam" in The Charlotte Observer in 1920. Reprinted with permission from The Charlotte Observer. Copyright The Charlotte Observer.
*** Please note, the chapters are reprinted without corrections. Typographical errors and inconsistent spelling have been retained from the original. ***
Company F of the 105th Engineers, 30th division, had as its nucleus the famous "Hornets' Nest Rifleman." With the traditions and record of that old organization back of it, it was bound to make a good record for itself in the great war, and so it was with confidence that the men and officers set out to perfect themselves in the training for their duties as engineers. That this confidence was not misplaced is testified to by their glorious achievements under most trying circumstances.
The diary of Company F, written by Private Newton is a human document of the greatest value. Giving in detail as it does the daily trials, difficulties, and at times pleasures through which he passed, it at the same time paints a typical picture of the lives of the thousands of soldiers serving in combat units. Many of the movements which to him seemed mysterious or unnecessary were dictated by the exigencies of the occasion, or by orders from higher authority upon information not available to all. The author's naive expressions concerning many of his experiences will be a source of continual delight to his readers.
Private Newton served as a runner during the fighting on the Somme, and he performed well the dangerous and fatiguing duties imposed upon him. That, however, is a commendation which applies to the whole of Company F, and it is with much pleasure that I seize the opportunity to express my admiration and affection for the men whom I had the good fortune and honor to command.
Theodore E. Seelye
Major Engineers, U. S. Army
Charlotte Observer, 8/22/1922