Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – July 5, 1943
Monday, July 5, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
July 5, 1943 Diary Page
This morning we had another air raid and it was a lovely sight to see from the distance we were. So far they have never gotten closer than 20 miles so all we have is a fourth of July on the 5th. I don’t know how much damage they did but the numbers say a fair amount actually. We got 3 of their planes. This was about 4 o’clock. Today, for this company was payday. Due to the fact that we pulled in here so late we didn’t get our pay roll in on time. Therefore the tardiness. Sgt Enright and I went down town about ten and picked it up then went over to the P.X. to see if we could get our week’s supplies. We were informed that we were to get them out near Tebourba from now on so took off back for camp. After dinner we paid off. We are paid off in Francs in this country which was the changing over of our money. I have no use for money over here so when I get mine tomorrow I’m going to send it home. The boys are really burning out the work now and Hdq’s seems pretty well pleased with the situation. I was called over by Capt. Cull this afternoon and told that I was to take over the motor pool in a couple more days as the outfit in charge was not handling it right. That’s a pretty good sized job. We have out 400 vehicles counting salvage Gunners which amount to about 75. It ought to keep us pretty busy but one thing makes me feel good in that I have a hell of a good crew of men and we can handle any job given to us. Today I talked _____ into letting us get ____________ as the outfit that is supposed to get it has gotten _________for three days in a row From now on we will get it.
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The Day That Was: July 5, 1943
|• The Germans launch operation ‘Citadel’, their last major offensive on Russian Front on a 200-mile front, with the 9th Army attacking from the North and 4th Panzer Army attacking from the South. The Germans have deployed 37 divisions totaling 900,000 men, which include 11 Panzer divisions with 2,500 tanks and assault guns, 10,000 guns and Nebelwerfers, as well as 1,800 aircraft. Against this, the Red Army has 1,300,000 troops in deeply echeloned defensive positions, protected by 8,000 land mines per square mile, 3,300 tanks, 20,000 guns and 2,500 aircraft. Taken together, the opposing forces in this operation constitute the largest concentration of military power ever assembled in history. In the northern sector, the Germans advance 6 miles, while in the southern sector they manage 25 miles against stubborn Soviet resistance which inflicts heavy casualties.
• The battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, began as German tanks attacked the Soviet salient.
The Das Reich Tiger of SS-Oberscharfuhrer Paul Egger passing panzer grenadiers near Bykowka, Russia in July 1943 during Operation Citadel.
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