Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – June 23, 1943
Wednesday, June 23, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
June 23, 1943 Diary Page
Well I just closed the blackout flaps on the tent, turned on the lights and settled down to a good cigar and started the days entry. It doesn’t seem like we have been here in ________ for over a week yet in some respects it seems like we have been here for years. It’s still hard to realize that we are not in some section of the states, unless, like tonight, we take the Jeep and go into Tunis and see the battle scared buildings or the shattered remains of tanks and trucks along the roads. Every now and then an american (sic) car comes down the highway and it seems stranger to see the foreign plates on her than it would to see a Maryland or California tag. This evening I took a couple pictures of some tanks that had the misfortune to run into a little bad luck. When you look at what happens to a tank when a direct hit is accomplished it leaves no other feeling but a decided thankfulness that you are not a member of a tank outfit. In the first place they are rolling arsenals so when a shell does penetrate through the armorplate it explodes the multitude of shells inside, completely demolishing said tanks and occupants. Sgt. Eggleston is becoming a problem. He seemed such a nice guy and still does. He is one of the hardest workers in the outfit but has an over eager & nervous way of diving into a job that it causes a dislike for himself that is beginning to worry me. If he did the job right I could overlook a lot of that but he gets messed up to (sic) often. Being a staff Sgt. that’s bad because the boys don’t trust his judgment. It would ruin him to break him because he doesn’t realize where he makes his mistakes and we can’t seem to make him. Also we have one St. Sgt. rating too many and we lose it for the company if we break him. I’m at a loss right now.
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The Day That Was: June 23, 1943
|• Allied bombers targeted Krefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, killing 1,450, burning 25,000 homes and leaving 87,000 homeless. (http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/1943)
• American troops landed in the Trobriand Islands, close to New Guinea. The American strategy of driving up the Southwest Pacific by “Island Hopping” continued. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_World_War_II_(1943))
• The RAF discovered and bombed Werner von Braun’s V1/V2-base at the Peenemünde Airfield along the Baltic Sea. (http://timelines.ws/20thcent/1943.HTML)
• By this date, 50,000 Jews would have been deported from France. A slow pace, not to the satisfaction of the Germans. (http://www.neveragain.org/1943A.htm)
• Ukrainian police began an action that would destroy the remaining Jewish population of about 600 people in Czortkow. (http://www.neveragain.org/1943A.htm)
• The cargo ships, USS Aludra (AK-72) and USS Deimos (AK-78), were sunk by submarine torpedoes in the Solomons. (http://www.blountweb.com/blountcountymilitary/wars/ww2/timelines/1943_ww2.htm)
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: Kathleen Long
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