By Lauren Pidgeon

Between November 1918 to June 1919, Garey and the remaining US troops had a lot of free time. The army tried to keep them all occupied but it must have been pretty tedious work.

January 27th, 1919
Camp de Meucon
We were pretty busy at the stables Mon. + Tue. Wednesday we went on a hike, we took everything just as though we were not coming back… The next day I was on Kitchen Police and next day most all the Battery was on Camp Guard.

Around Christmas time, Garey and the soldiers realized that they probably wouldn’t be going home for quite a while. Garey suggested that his parents write to their Senator to remind the government that all the American troops were still in France. They must have been desperate to come home! They did seem to have a fun Christmas, although this was probably Garey’s first Christmas away from home.

This is a menu for a Christmas Day meal in Paris, 1918.
Image from The National WWI Museum and Memorial

December 27th, 1918
Camp de Meucon
After dinner most of the Battery went over to the YMCA to a show given by the 80th. They had the 80th Band all so. I thought the show was fine…. I will tell you what we had. Coffee, some kind of soup if you wanted it, goose, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, bread, butter, cake and apple pie… In the morning after breakfast, they gave us each 3 packages of candy.

In February, Garey’s battery moved east towards where the fighting had previously been happening. They move into a town called Pont à Mousson and boarded with the locals. Imagine being a French villager and surviving World War One only to have the American army invade your town for 5 months!

Since Garey was now near the front, he wrote to his parents about what the trenches were like.

This is where Pont à Mousson is in relation to the rest of France.
From Wikepedia

February 18th, 1919
Every few min. the whole earth and house shakes. They are blowing up mines and duds, that is shells that did not explode. No mans land is not more than 1 mile from here. There are trenches and wire entanglements all along the roads and all over the fields but of course they are not the front line.

American Red Cross workers checking up on an elderly couple in Pont a Mousson because there had been bombings in the streets (right before the end of the war)
Library of Congress

The war must have been quite hard for the residents of Pont à Mousson. With the sounds from the trenches and the Germans bombing the town, people lost their homes and lives.

Here is a street in Pont à Mousson during the war. You can see the rubble left over from the bombings.
From The National WWI Museum and Memorial

In April, the soldiers moved to Commercy which is in the same region as Pont a Mousson. In May Garey and some other soldiers moved into a Chateau.