“Big Boy”: A Diary of World War I by Quiren M. Groessl, Company F, Fifth Wisconsin Regiment


Nicknamed "Big Boy" during his time in the service, Quiren M. Groessl grew up in a German-American family in Wisconsin. He was a corporal in the Fifth Wisconsin Regiment, one of the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units that were organized into the 32nd Division of the United States Army. On May 27, 1918, Groessl was captured in a German raid on American lines. He suffered a brutal bayonet wound when he tried to escape. Despite his injury, he was able to make his way back to American lines and was conveyed to a French field hospital. His diary records not only his dramatic combat experiences, but also the time he spent in the hospital, where he developed a special camaraderie with the other wounded soldiers. Groessl was discharged from the army on January 5, 1919. He typed the diary from his handwritten notations in the 1960s, after his retirement from civilian employment. The volume includes newspaper clippings from local Wisconsin newspapers reporting on his wartime experiences; photographs; a sequel that recounts a trip that he made to France in 1927 to participate in the ninth annual convention of the American Legion (held in Paris that year to mark the tenth anniversary of America’s entry into World War I); and an epilogue dated November 11, 1968, in which Groessl recounts his experiences from between the time he enlisted and when he began keeping a diary. The diary is preserved in the collections of the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

Last updated: November 14, 2017