Pvt. & Cpl. Daniel Douger
This site displays information - letters, literature, and photographs - about my grandfather's experiences as a soldier one hundred years ago: from 1917 through 1919. This documented period occurred beginning with his training in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with the Massachusetts National Guard, his induction in 1917 in the US Army as an infantryman, and tour with the AEF in France from the end of 1917 through the beginning of 1919, and finally with his discharge in 1919. Many (most/all?) of his letters he sent home to his parents survive, which have now been scanned and saved as PDF. He also saved other artifacts (e.g., caps, medals, gas mask) and books he deemed personally important, including some with very graphic pictures of war. These are now being made available for public view.
I knew my grandfather as an older man. Reading these letters, however, gives one a glimpse of what this 18- and 19-year old young man experienced during national guard and army training in Massachusetts and his subsequent transfer to France and the front line. It's a life that is usually mundane, uplifting or sad, and sometimes shocking. Many of these were also read by military censors; when not pressed for time, he was also circumspect about what he was writing, as were hundreds of thousands of other soldiers writing home. 100 years later, these surviving letters are a fascinating window into the past.
Letters. I've scanned and uploaded to this website letters that were written by my grandfather to his parents and family (four sisters) who at the time lived in Brooklyn, New York. These were in fragile envelopes that required careful curatorial handling and removal into folders by archivists at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan. I then carefully scanned these envelopes and letters as PDF files, which can be downloaded and read. A few postcards and miscellaneous items also have been scanned. Accompanying each scan is a text file to facilitate reading.
Photographs. I have attempted to photograph - and stitch together - several panoramic photographs that are clearly deteriorated. A similar photograph of his unit is in poor condition, and remains to be imaged. I have also photographed or scanned memorabilia my grandfather saved from his service - his Yankee Division armpatches, belt buckles, medals and other soldier items. Amazingly, the gas mask that was issued - and he kept - is in remarkably good condition.
Literature. Several books were also issued to veterans after the conflict, and my grandfather saved these. Some of these books contain graphic images; the black and white photographs retain their impact. Several other books, which are very large, has not been scanned but are already in the public domain and can be downloaded with the provided link.
Links. A number of links with interesting perspectives on World War One are given. Please let me know of additional links that should be included.
I hope this site is useful and informative, introducing one to a more personal aspect to a conflict that further fades from memory. Images, photographs and the contents contained (unless previously in the public domaine) are copyrighted (2014) by Ethan Bright. If you are interested in using any of the contents, I request that you contact me and properly cite the source. I invite serious researchers and journalists to use this information.
Page last edited: Saturday, February 11, 2017 (EB)
Daniel Douger (1898-1981)
Born in Boston in 1898 of Russian immigrants who initially settled in Massachusetts, he was mostly raised by his grandparents in Lowell while his parents moved to Brooklyn, New York. He was the oldest of five, and had four younger sisters. My grandfather, eager to "get Poncho Villa," enlisted as a 17-year old on February 25, 1916 with the Massachusetts National Guard. After the US declaration of war in April 1917, he was discharged from the National Guard on July 30, 1917 and assigned with the U.S. Army 26th "Yankee Division", part of the American Expeditionary Force that would fight in France during 1918. After the war, he settled back to New York, eventually finding employment with RKO Radio Pictures and as a bookkeeper for City Photo Engraving in Manhattan. Marrying in early 1927, he and his wife Jeannette had two daughters, and eventually four grandchildren.
Undated photo, likely taken in Camp Deven, Massachusetts, sometime in 1917.
Over There - George M. Cohan, 1917
Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums are rum-tumming everywhere