World War I handwritten diary of Norman Nash Badger, Jr.,7 Co. K., 8th Infantry. Badger (1887-1954) was from Glendale California, and his time in the army was all on the home front. There are diary entries which date from August 6, 1918 when he boarded the train to Camp Fremont. He talks of camp life, multiple quarantines for pneumonia, measles and the Spanish flu, fumigating, vaccinations, practicing in the gas house, being in the hospital car during a trip to a ship, getting letters from home, receiving items from the “Red X,” (Red Cross), etc. A few of his entries include:
Oct. 8 – In quarantine again. Sp. Influenza. The whole regiment this time. Very strict, guards all around. Got letter and candy from wife and letter from Alex.
Oct. 24 – Am located in the hospital car where I have been since Monday morning. Felt so sick I reported Monday morning and came in. Had quite a fever and didn’t at all well. Monday morning was put in an upper birth here it was too dark to write to keep up my diary and also no window to view the country. Monday, Tues, Wed., there and was given lower birth last night at 5 pm. Passed thru Canada all morning, a very pretty country and a number of good-sized towns and cities enroute. Crossed the Niagara and back into the US at noon……
Oct. 30 – 3 letters from wife this a.m., but no late letters. Was sure glad to get them with enclosed letters from her folks. Am feeling better. Had a fever of 100 Tues. p.m.
Nov. 2 – No letters today. Day passed as usual. Thompson from K Co died last night at 11:15 of pneumonia.
Nov. 6 – Landed here at Camp Merritt at 2. Was examined (?) and put in temporary barracks with several hundred others from hospitals. Was Corporal of guard for 6th relief for 4 to 6 but spent the time inside beside the fire. Didn’t sleep very well the rest of the night. Met Gray and had quite a talk.
Nov. 7 – Was placed in Co. G. Casual Battalion and got two new pairs of shoes that fit, a pair of wrapped leggings, and an overseas cap. Don’t believe I’ll ever go across now as I hear no more infantry is going over and some troop ships have even been turned back. Whistles blew for a long time this afternoon, rumors that Germany has signed. Sure hope so.
Nov. 15 – Got a pass and left at 2:30 arriving at NY at 4. Went down Broadway from Central Park. Had supper and went to see Al Jolson in Sinbad the Sailor at the Winter Garden. A good show. Slept at 538 7th ave., a place run by volunteers of America for soldiers and sailors. Twenty-five cents for a night’s lodging.
(Nov. 21) – on the boats in the Hudson. We arrived at Hoboken about 9 and maneuvered around for over an hour for some reason before docking. Marched from the dock where we again waited for a long, long time, onto the transport President Grant, a large transport. Every man was given a slip of paper with his compartment number, deck number, and berth on it, also instructions on how to conduct himself in case of emergency and what life boat or raft to make for. The berths were 3 deep and so close one could hardly turn over. Aisles so narrow that two men just could pass. The mess rooms were entirely too small to accommodate the number of men assigned to the them and the floors so slimy you could hardly keep your feet with the roll of the ship. Had to live in the life preserver, a kind of jacket. I slept in all my clothes and shoes and had a full night’s sleep. Got up at 7 feeling fair but when I got on my feet, felt dizzy as ____. I managed to keep from losing any of my nourishment, wasn’t sick except for a headache and a little dizziness. Not so with the majority however, as the men were vomiting here, there and everywhere. Had to remain on deck between meals. I ate very little, the filthy conditions of the mess room after a number had eaten was enough to turn any man’s stomach. At about 5, we approached Norfolk and were lined up for leaving ship. My company was assigned to an upper deck where we stood until 7, when we were herded back down in the the mess room where we waited until 9 pm…….got up at 3:30 and left the ship at 5:30. We boarded a river steamer from Norfolk which took us up Hampton Roads and then on up the James River to Cedar Point from where we hiked to camp, a distance of 10 – 12 miles and part of the way through a forest over stumps and brush. We landed at Cedar Point a little after 2 and arrived at camp at 8 pm, a tired hungry mob. The first thing we did was to beat it to the mess tent for some chow which was beef stew, bread and coffee and sure tasted fine. Remained in tent for ten nights and just did manage to keep from freezing. Took my clothes off Sunday night for the first time since Wednesday. Had an extra blanket given us Sunday. Moved to barracks Monday or yesterday, where we had a nice warm quarters but have to walk quite a little ways to the latrine. Company I quarantined on account of measles. Have a guard on now. Don’t have any idea when I will get discharged. Have given up making any more predictions, but think it will come before Xmas.
The leather-bound diary measures 4” x 6.25” and it has 60 pages, most of which are used. A few pages in the back are of notes, addresses, and general orders. His writing is legible, and the person I bought this from, has done some research, including transcribing the diary, and adding copies of his registration card, a registrar’s report, a copy of the “Find a Grave” online site with info about Badger, a copy of a photo of him in his uniform and a copy of a note from the “WWI Soldier Photo File” which says that illness prevented his going across with company which left Camp Fremont on 10/19/18.