Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – August 6, 1943
Friday, Aug. 6, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
Aug. 6, 1943 Diary Page
Well last night while I was sleeping there was quite a bit of excitement around here. An officer and a negro enlisted man were shot to death. Here is the story as I got it. Two brand new shavetails* had charge of a ____ of Arabs. A couple negros in a truck got a little reckless and hit one (Arab) severely injuring him. The officer stopped the colored boys and were going to put them under arrest so they jumped back in their truck and took off. The officer got a Jeep and went after them so the negros picked up their guns so were armed when caught. The officers argued for a while then went back gets their own guns and started hunting again. The chances are they were a little drunk or they would have just turned the colored boys in. Well they ran into each other later in the evening and stopped. The officers ordered the negros out of the truck at the point of a gun so the driver took hold of his gun and started to climb out. The officers probably thinking the colored boy intended to shoot let go with his 45. He was a poor shot and killed the assistant driver. A colored boy starting in the back of the truck let the officer have it so that brought the count to 2. They were both buried four hours later. I don’t know what the outcome of the affair will be. I intend on sitting in on that trial. Tonight we took a gang out and shot up a full case of carbine ammunition. This is by far the sweetest gun the army has and I’ve fired all individual combat weapons. I fired 15 shots in a 2 ft. circle in 5 seconds. I think that would make a Nazi jump a little.
*Slang for a second lieutenant, esp. one recently appointed- usually disparaging
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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
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