Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – July 11, 1943
Sunday, July 11, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
July 11, 1943 Diary Page
Today, I think our boys really discovered a war. We are paying a terrible price for that little bit of an island. This morning a B-26 aircraft took off with 24 planes and came back at noon with 20. They reloaded and took off again. I don’t know how many came back this time. I went by the hospital today on the way to the beach and ambulances were thicker than African flies. The fliers of this outfit next to us say it looks like Germany had everything she possessed on the island waiting for us. They say they have never seen as many Meserschmits in all their life & each is churning their losses to hits. I don’t know how our ground forces are doing. I hear that they landed on a 100 mile strip of land but as to this progress I know nothing. There is a German propaganda station that gives it every night but you can imagine what that’s like. They have a girl who speaks excellent English who is constantly telling us all about the good things of home and explaining the uselessness of our being over here and in general trying to make us homesick. She plays American jazz between talking and its good. She does not know it but we are glad she is on because we like the music and we can laugh at her descriptive phrases. Her name is Sally. Of course she has a partner named Bill who fancies himself most useful. This dialogue is very clever. The news tonight was not as good as us optimists would like but never the less good. _________ we lost 28 to Germanie’s (sic) 20. This was confirmed. At first we heard it from a German source but our confirmations came through.
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The Day That Was: July 11, 1943
|• Heinrich Himmler ordered the liquidation of Polish ghettos. (http://timelines.ws/20thcent/1943.HTML)• US cruiser and destroyer gunfire stops a German tank assault on the landing beaches near Gela, Sicily. LST-158 is damaged by a horizontal bomber, beached and abandoned. The attack transport USS Barnett (APA-5) and the transports USS Orizaba (AP-24) and USS Monrovia (AP-54) are damaged by horizontal and dive bombers. (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: Shari 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