Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – July 3, 1943
Saturday, July 3, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
July 3, 1943 Diary Page
One year ago today I received my commission. It doesn’t seem that long yet in some reports I feel like such an old hand at the game that it must be about ten years. I can remember that morning so distinctly. We were tired as hell from the trip up in the mountains but most of that was forgotten in the excitement. None of us had received our stations so none of the gloom had spread out and the disappointment had not shown any instance of appearing. The exercise went off smoothly and we were full fledged officers. God! That was a big moment. Of course when I got my assignment and saw my 60 day leave cancelled I was pretty sick. I celebrated today by taking off on “business” and going in town. I then went out to Rady for a swim. The harbor is still a mass of ships waiting the invasion signal. I have never in my life seen so many ships in such a small space. They should pull out any time now. In fact it looked like they were preparing for that while I was watching. Tomorrow when I take the men swimming I expect to see them gone. I came back in time and went on a sightseeing tour by myself. I walked through narrow streets lined with small shops and crowded with people. It was very interesting. I met a couple of Frenchmen who said they knew a lovely spot so I took them in the jeep and we met up in a park that must have been beautiful before the army moved in. We went to the top of the hill in it and it was a gorgeous view over Tunis harbor. Tonight I got 16 letters. It sure was good to hear from home after nearly a month of silence. The days are more cheerful already.
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The Day That Was: July 3, 1943
|• Subhas Chandra Bose takes over command of the Indian National Army.
• The RAF carries out a heavy night raid on Cologne, causing considerable damage and killing hundreds of civilians. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war-in-europe/european-air-war/european-air-war-index-1943.htm)
• US troops from Nassau Beach link up with the Australians who are under heavy attack at Mubo in New Guinea. Operation ‘Cartwheel’ continues with further advances in the Solomon’s. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/asia-and-the-pacific/pacific-islands/pacific-islands-index-1943.htm)
Subhas Chandra Bose
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: Sharri Seippel
Diary photos: Claudia Forbes
Video production: Alison Harder
Narration: Mountain Vista H.S. Theater Department
Jeremy Goldson, Department Chair; Bryan Smith – voice of Lt. Reichard