Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – July 24, 1943
Saturday, July 24, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
July 24, 1943 Diary Page
Today stayed cool until about two o’clock as the sky stayed overcast. This is very unusual as the clouds generally clear off about eight or nine each day. I think I could have slept all day. When its nice and cool like that you sure hate to get up in the morning. The boys kept pretty busy today and really turned out the work. I wish that we could have known in advance what kind of a set-up we were going to get into so we could have had more training along those specific lines. It would not have taken us so long to get situated once we really did start to work. We are even now ironing out difficulties and making changes here and there. This afternoon K.____ and R._____pulled their act again. Those two will be the ruin of me yet. They are both good men and do their work beyond reproach but are incurable drunks. It seems that every now and then, about once a month they have to get drunk and pull some damn fool stunt. Almost inevitably its while on duty. This time they took a truck out for a 1,000 mile check up and landed in Tunis where the wine flows freely. They were picked up on the road back by an officer who brought them here. It really made me mad that they had to pull that just a couple days after the Capt. arrived. He gave them one week of walking guard eight hrs a day. I wanted them busted. I went to Jenettes this evening.
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The Day That Was: July 24, 1943
|• The U.S. submarine, Tinosa, fired 15 torpedoes at a lone Japanese merchant ship, but none detonated. http://timelines.ws/20thcent/1943.HTML
• Operation Gomorrah took place when 746 RAF bombers dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Hamburg in 48 minutes, during which only 12 aircraft were lost. This tonnage was as much as Germans dropped in the five heaviest raids on London. Fires were visible for 200 miles. This was the first operational use of “Window” (radar-jamming foil strips dropped by aircraft). http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war-in-europe/european-air-war/european-air-war-index-1943.htm
• A battle-damaged USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress crash-landed in Sweden. Its 10-man crew became the first of nearly 1,000 American and other Allied airmen to be granted refuge in neutral Sweden during World War II.
• A 10-hour meeting of the Fascist grand council passed a motion, 19 to 7, asking that the king of Italy take over command of all Italian forces from Mussolini. http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war-in-europe/southern-europe/southern-europe-index-1943.htm
Operation Gomorrah: The bombing of Hamburg
1943 Diary Recaps
January 1943 Recap: We first met Lt. Reichard in January, stationed at McClellan Air Base in Sacramento, where he was in charge of a motor pool unit. Expecting to be sent overseas, their orders were changed and they became restless to see action. Lt. Reichard’s sweetheart, Ginnie, would write frequently, and he would go to dinner and movies with local girls – Dorothy, in Sacramento, and Marie, when the unit moved to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. The men have spent their days in lectures, and physical demonstrations to try to keep sharp mentally and physically. But they are getting increasingly restless.
February 1943 Recap: The unit continues to be restless as they still haven’t any orders for overseas. The days are kept busy with lectures, physical demonstrations, and frequent hikes in the mountains above Boise. Lt. Reichard receives a promotion to Lieutenant First Class and continues to write to Ginnie back home, though her letters are becoming more infrequent. February 1943 comes to an end with the unit still feeling bored and discouraged.
March 1943 Recap: March brings uncertainties in weather and daily life to Gowen Field. Still no word about overseas orders, the outfit must now share quarters with another unit. There is now time to begin a photo album, collecting pictures from times with the outfit. Letters from Ginnie are becoming more infrequent but there is no shortage of dates with the local girls in Boise. March comes to an end with everyone in the outfit anxiously awaiting word of upcoming furloughs.
April 1943 Recap: Last minute furloughs come through, and Lt. Reichard returns home to Maryland for some time with his family on the farm. He and Ginnie have a chance to talk things over and hopefully save the relationship. Just before leaving Boise, the unit gets orders that a move will come at the end of April. April comes to an end with the men spending a week in Stockton, California getting ready to ship out. But where they are going remains a mystery.
May 1943 Recap: The long journey begins by train as the outfit travels cross country to Camp Shanks, New York, where they will prepare to head overseas. Lt. Reichard now knows the destination: Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa. After ensuring that all the supplies are in order, the outfit boards the “West Point”, the newest in troop carriers and heads to sea. Lt. Reichard spends many peaceful evenings enjoying the time at sea before landing in Morocco. May ends with the outfit setting up camp and adjusting to the customs of Morocco.
Lt. Reichard’s WWII Diary Project : On January 1, 2009, WorthPoint began a three year project following the life of a WWII soldier through the daily pages of his diary. To read about the inception of this project, or to add your own comments, click here.
Diary transcription: Shari Seippel
Diary photos: Claudia Forbes