In Part 1, Chaplain Stewart Robinson described his duties with the 78th "Lightning" Division through the St. Mihiel Offensive until he was struck down with by the Spanish flu. He continues his account:
September 24, 1918,
Tuesday, Clear +61; French hospital train evacuation through
“Did not stay long in this
September 25, 1918,
Wednesday, Clear +62; Base #26
Hospital, Allerey-sur-Saone, Cote d’Or,
“A beautiful day. I did not feel so very lively and kept pretty well down in bed all day. The nurses are very nice to us. This is Base #26. The little village here is quite a center for hospitals. My malady seems to be slowly yielding to the treatment forthcoming. They do not give me much medicine. Perhaps they have only a very little. But I guess it is just as well. Being quiet here has awakened within me a great desire to turn my footsteps homeward.”
September 27, 1918, Friday, Cloudy +60; Allerey hospital
“Still this quiet life here continues and I keep on feeling better all the time. I keep thinking all the time of the chance of getting back home to work over there. I feel that this will doubtless be what will happen, because of the prayers of the dear folks back home. The fact that I can do just as much there as here and the fact that I want and pray for it myself. Things like that have worked out so before. God has a way of doing very wonderful things for those who love Him.”
September 30, 1918, Monday, Clear +59; Ward under quarantine for meningitis. Ready to get out.
“The ward is still under a quarantine for a case of
meningitis that was discovered here. I am feeling much better and am anxious to
get away from here now. The war is progressing in wonderful shape. I do believe
that before so very long we shall see the end of it. How the world and
|A Ward at Base Hospital #26|
October 4, 1918,
Friday, Cloudy +60; Recovered and released “to leave this place…” Train to
“Awoke, dressed for breakfast and started to leave this place. I was scheduled to go to Convalescent Camp last night but they did not send for me. Today the camp was writing to pass me through immediately and wrote my orders for me to go to Chateau d’Aux, Louplande. Nobody knew where this place was, so I started for Dijon Cote d’Or, where I plan to spend the night. I will seek after this place in question and hope that it will be on the way homeward. That has become my ardent desire now. The Fall and cold weather bids me fly back to the sunny southland of home sweet home.”
October 8, 1918,
Tuesday, Clear +60; Train from Montparnasse to
“Arrived by train from the Gare de Montparnasse at
In Mid-October the 78th Division was transported from the St. Mihiel Sector to the left flank of the American First Army which was in the midst of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
October 16, 1918, Wednesday, Rainy +58; Slept in French freight car with thousands of loaves of bread
“Slept in a French freight car on the floor with some
thousands of loaves of bread. Morning dawned cold and wet. A company of railway
engineers gave me some breakfast and I had my first ride in an American
locomotive run by a man who used to run from
October 17, 1918,
Rejoins the 78th Division in the Meuse
“Found my work in a pretty complete state of confusion, thanks to the many changes which had happened in my absence. There have been many changes in the HQ. The prospect is not overly bright for the future. Rode down in the evening with MacDonald. About 45 seconds after he drew his truck out of a barn door where it had been standing a shell sailed in right on the spot. We reached Les Islettes and found a place to sleep with some of the supply train. They had a nice fire which was very acceptable and brightened up the evening.”
October 22, 1918,
Tuesday, Cloudy +58;
“Did not need to get up this morning. One of the patients in the shock ward died during the wee hours when I arrived. He had lost an arm and his leg had a horrible wound fully three inches deep and nearly a foot long. I held his head on Sunday while his leg was dressed. It was agonizing to see his face written all over with signs of extreme pain. The agony and suffering of this awful thing passes all imagination. I am tired of the thing and I have barely seen the fringe of the thing. We are in the midst of God’s great testing by fire. I trust Him for all things.”
|78th Division Stretcher Bearers in the Argonne Sector|
October 26, 1918,
Saturday, Cloudy +63; “Shells land 50 yards of me, they were big ones and
whistled painfully…I was delivered from great danger.”
“Went out over the hills to the front, visited 115 Brigade reserve, 155 P.C. and went up into St. Juvin. We hold one end of this little village and the Boche is in the other. He was trying to blow up the little bridge by which one had to get into town. It was a pretty strenuous time and I was assured anew that God takes care of us. They (shells) fell inside of 50 yards of me. They were big ones and whistled painfully. The trip was in the line of duty and I was delivered from great danger. God is able to keep me and use me through all the days of my life. I can trust Him. I must dare to do so.”
At the end of the month, Chaplain Robinson is ordered to a Services of Supply Base at Brest on the French Coast.
November 6, 1918,
Wednesday, Clear +50;
“Arose at leisure-Went out to Lambezellec and had a funeral. There are thousands of graves out there of men had influenza and died when they landed here. In p.m. I looked over some of the features of Casemate Fautras where some of my work is to be done. Had supper and went to the movies with Sledge, a very genial Southern Baptist chaplain. The movies were American and one was very funny and I laughed more than I have all summer. The little nascent moon hung in the West. I felt a premonition of home by the week.”
Thanksgiving, November 28, 1918, Thursday, Clear +49.
“Held service at
Stewart Robinson spends the next four months hoping for a timely return home. He finally sails on 25 February 1919.
March 7, 1919, Cloudy,
+55; Arrives in
"Went up on deck right after breakfast and sighted land at about nine o’clock. All the moments thereafter were spent in eagerly looking for new things on the shore or in the water. We came along through the Bayand along the buoyed channel to the upper way past the forts and past the Statue of Liberty.
We docked at one o’clock and as soon as we came out of the dock I saw Anne MacGregor and the folks waiting behind the gate. We had a cursory examination for bugs and creeping things and then were able to get out to see the impatient dear ones. It was a very happy sight for there were many little parties like our own.
Caught 5 p.m. train for
March 8, 1919, Clear, +57; Home in Philadelphia
"Spent the whole day in the house unpacking and visiting. It was one long happy
hour with no thought of time or obligation. I wired for permission to report on
There seems to be a few jobs on the horizon into which I may have a chance to
insinuate myself. One possibility is the chair of English Bible at
After WWI, he pastored Presbyterian congregations in Cleveland, Ohio, Lockport, NY, and Elizabeth NJ, until retirement in 1961. For 12 years he edited, The Presbyterian, an independent journal published in Philadelphia. After WWII, 1951–53, he served as Chairman of the Army-Navy Chaplains Commission, visiting troops during the Korean War. He authored a monograph on the influence of colonial clergy on the American Revolution. His papers are archived at the National Archives, Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Thanks to Dave Robinson of McLean, VA, for bringing his grandfather's diary to our attention.