USS “Leviathan” Troop Billet Card with Handwritten Notation “Went Across”


Harry Frieman was a soldier in the 313th Machine Gun Company of the 79th Division, United States Army, during World War I. The division was composed primarily of draftees from Maryland and Pennsylvania. In his diary, Frieman records that he was drafted and reported to Camp Meade, Maryland, on November 6, 1917. On July 8, 1918, he sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, on the troopship Leviathan, and arrived in France on July 15. He and his unit saw their first combat in the Meuse-Argonne operation in late September 1918. They were engaged in hard fighting for the remainder of the war. Frieman’s diary records his training, trip across the Atlantic, combat experiences, and certain special occasions, such as his attending Rosh Hashanah services at the YMCA. Frieman spent much of his time deep in the notoriously brutal trenches of France. His diary offers striking descriptions of the World War I combat experience: constant artillery fire, very little fresh water or food, and trips “over the top.” His notes also include his personal account of the day it all ended: November 11, 1918. At the time of the Armistice, Frieman’s unit was caught in a trap, surrounded on three sides by German troops and not sure that it could hold out for much longer. Frieman was an indifferent speller, but the diary is for the most part written in neat block letters. Frieman sailed back to the United States in May 1919 aboard the USS Paysandu. Shown here is his troop billet card from the Leviathan with his bunk assignment and the list of rules of conduct while on ship. Frieman’s 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