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Doings Of Battery B

328th Field Artillery American Expeditionary Forces

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 MESS SERGT. HARMON R. BELBECK Serial No. 2,026,551 121 Pleasant Ave., Alma, Mich. Inducted September 22, 1917. Previous to entering the army he bad been a chemist and was sent to the Cooks’ School, at Camp Custer, and became the Battery’s first cook. Cooking with Belbeck was an art—a science and at Custer we certainly had fine food, well prepared. At Custer every modern convenience was furnished for the cooking of food, but in France, at Coetquidan, we were given a rolling kitchen, such as we would have at the front. Here his troubles started. He was made Mess Sergeant, succeeding Sergeant Reddaway of the Battery, and whether meals were good or food was scarce or plentiful, he received the abuse of every man with a disposition to find fault, but must preserve a perfect serenity, which he did in a marvelous manner. He, like all mess sergeants, occupied perhaps the hardest and most continuous and responsible duty of the whole A. E. F., as he had to provide fuel and sustenance to the fighting forces, and that in spite of delayed provisions or missing necessary articles to make a palatable meal. The German airplane observers were constantly on the watch for the kitchens in the fighting area, and he had to be crafty and elusive in all movements. There was strict orders from the high command that no food should be given the destitute French, as they were to be looked after by the Red Cross and kindred organizations. However, a very decrepit aged man, who lived somewhere in the nearby ruins of his home, came every day to pick bits of food from our garbage cans. One day there came to the Mess Sergeant’s quarter about fifteen French orphans asking for food. They, too, were haunting the ruins of their homes. While strictly against orders, the Mess Sergeant secretly gave them food for fully two months, and probably saved the lives of these children who were lost track of by the organizations. He was present at and enjoyed the convivial parties with the boys. When you are sleeping very soundly, And your dreams are of the folks at home, You feel like dropping a ton of brick On that Bugler’s dome; Yet you fall in at 5:30 a. m., The Sergeant calls your name, Or when you think you will have a snap. It starts right in to rain. When the sick call sounds they all fall in. And sob of their pains and ills, But that sob changes to another tune When they get a few C. C. pills. When they line up by the mess hail, With their mess-kits in hand, That’s the time they start to kicking And the cooks get all the damns. When we feed them rice and syrup, For that’s all that’s on the book, They walk by the poor Mess Sergeant And give him the same bad look. —Mess Sergeant Belbeek.

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