1919 - Fort Stevens Oregon


Arleigh Kerr (Sr.)

In September 1918, my father, Arleigh Kerr, enlisted in the Army and, after basic training at Camp Lewis near Tacoma Washington was sent to Fort Stevens, Oregon. There, near the mouth of Columbia River, he was in the 1st Company, Columbia Coast Artillery Corps. He rose to rank of Corporal. Because he could type, he became Company Clerk. And because he'd had Drafting in high school, he designed a new fire house after a fire destroyed the original.

Below are excerpts from a journal he kept from December 22, 1918 through June 2, 1919. I've not included all the entries as many are repetitious: almost every Sunday he went to Church, generally in nearby Astoria and spent a great deal of time washing clothes. All these photographs, I believe, are his.

6 inch Disappearing Gun; Battery Lewis

Jan. 8, Wed - Chg of qtrs. Battalion Parade, Duty Corp day. Fired Salute 21 rounds at 3 P.M. on 10 second intervals Revielle gun in honor Roosevelt. Died 1-6-18.

A 6 inch Disappearing Gun at Battery Lewis

Jan. 9. Thursday - Ft. Steven quarantined again. "Flue"

1-12 Sun - Pvt Carl D. Douglas - Portland Oregon of my squad was shot, accidently, and killed, in line of duty as a member of the guard, by Pvt P. W. Bealo [sp?].

1-Fort Headquarters, Pay Roll Office and telephone office 2-Second Company barracks 3-Third Company barracks 4-Quartermaster quarters 5-Guard House 6-Gynmasium & Movies 7-Officer Quarters

Fort Stevens

1-20 - Monday - Rotten dinner made me sick. Ate no supper. Went to Y. Show.

1-21 - Tuesday. Ate no breakfast. Still feel bum.

February 1 - Saturday. Inspection by Colonels Rafferty & Thompson. Got by good. Rafferty dissatisfied tho' & called another at 11 oclock, but it was called off. Pay Day - Rec'd $15.90. Worked all day, Y show & wrote letter at night.

Squad Room

Inside Barracks

Feb. 2 - Sunday - Slept until 8:30 got up - had bath - breakfast at P.X. Started to eat dinner. Schlatter called me in office to straighten out Laundry bills. After supper Raided pantry got bread - bologna - preserves. Short sheeted Gilkisons bed.

Post Exchange directly behind Dad and Gilkison.

Post Exchange

Feb. 3 - Monday - Mess Sgt restricted to quarters for 30 days. Spent $160 over his allowance last month, yet we had only "fair" eats. Whole Co. went to boat house. Went out on river in hand power Mine Yawls. I stand every formation but K.P. & Fatigue, also do Co. Clerk work. It's a great life.

Parade Rest with Dad on the left.

Parade Rest with Dad on the left.

Feb. 4. - Tuesday - Went out on River in Mine Yawls again. Sgt O'Gara put me in charge of the boats to instruct etc. Went to K. C. Show. Am considering reinlisting & going to Fort Monroe to Master Gunners School.

Feb. 5 - Wednesday - Went to Battery Freeman for instruction. Rec'd, but little. Worked hard all day. Washed clothes. Handed in my name to take Enl[isted] Spec. exam.

Feb. 7. Friday. Went to Brty Freeman for instruction. I was gun pointer. Back to Mine Store House. Colonel Thompson came thru barracks on look out for men who should be drilling found Gilkison. Court Martial for him. Pvt. Starr given Co. punishment & extra K. P. I'm in Charge of Quarters.

12 inch Mortar

12 inch Mortar

Feb. 17 - Monday. Am still in "Chg of Quarters." Had to go to Headquarters at 7:30 AM for examination for entrance to Enlisted Specialists School - Fort Monroe, Va. I was to take the Master Gunner Course - but took exam for Clerical-Sgt. Major course. Lt. Adams, examining officer. I requested that I not be sent. Got thru exam in 5 hrs could have 27 hrs. Wrote letters, went to YMCA at 9 PM for an hour.

Feb. 18 - Tuesday. I was up before Colonel Rafferty this PM to explain why I did not want to go to Fort Monroe. We had quite a nice little talk. Mathematics classes for Non-Comm's started tonight - 4 nights a week.

Army Y.M.C.A. at right. Ordnance Office and store room in rear.

26 - Wednesday. No school tonight. I went to town [Astoria]. Borrowed 50 cents from Vi[iola] to take her to the show. I was broke. Had 70 cents to go and get back. 30 cents each way.

Feb 28. Friday. Inspection by Colonel Rafferty. The 1st Co. was the best looking & cleanest in the Fort. I'm in chg of qrtrs. Had medical inspection today. Doctor thought my underwear was quite thin.

Mar 1 Saturday. AM inspection. Got by all right except porch floors were quite dirty. At 10:30 I was told to report to the C.W. Artillery Engineer for S. D. - I reported. Did very little on the 1st day.

Barracks of 1st Company Columbia Coast Artillery Corps

Mar. 10 - Monday. In chg of qrtrs. Had instruction all morning. Have rotten grub all the time. Insufficient nourishment. We have gravy all the time, spuds and toothpicks [sic] most of the time. I don't feel very good. In fact, feel "bum". Am considering transfering to the Q.M. corps.

March 11 - Tuesday. I still feel bum. Worked all day. Am excused from Co. duty. Eats still no good.

Battery Elias Smur

Battery Elias Smur

March 14 - Friday. Parade every day this week. Examination for 1st Cl Gunner by Colonel Thompson.

March 19 - Wednesday. Instruction at Primary station Plotting Board. Was ordered to Fort Monroe today.

Mar 25 - Tuesday. Sgt. Short got shocked at casement. Still rotten eats - still feel bad. Went to Hospital this a.m. They gave me 3 capsules and said if I didn't feel better in 2 or 3 days to come back.

12 inch Disappearing Cannon, Battery Russell

April 7 - Monday - We got a new Mess Sgt. And a new cook last Saturday. The eats seem to be better. Had pie for supper. Wrote letters home. Washed clothes.

April 8 - Tuesday - Had pie for dinner. Talked to Lt. Adams about discharge. He gave me no satisfaction.

12 in Disappearing Cannon, Battery Russell

April 18 - Friday. "Good" Friday. Took "Gunners" examination today. Passed grade of 95%.

April 19 Saturday. Got discharged from the U.S. Army this P.M. Got check for $172.65. Caught train for Astoria. Went to Youngs for supper. Mr. Marsh - Red Cross man gave me a slip to go to Rodgers Ship Yards to work $4.16 per day.

Breech of 12 Mortar, Battery Clark

Apr 21 Monday. Went to Rodgers, I was told to come tomorrow. Went to Emil Nelson's (Jeweler at 14th St & Commercial). Got work there, $25.00 per week and room. I go to work tomorrow.

April 29 - Tuesday. Saw the Battleship "Oregon" today. She fired a salute of about 12 guns. Some boat.

Battleship Oregon

May 26 - Monday. Got telegram to come and work at Hunkins [Jewelry Store in Billings].

May 28. Didn't work today. I'm going home. Packed everything.

June 2. 1919. Woke up on train between Missoula & Helena Montana. The country looks more familiar now. Arrived in Billings at 7:12 P.M. Met [brother] Reese - then went home ! ! And I was home.