Tuesday, July 13, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa
July 13, 1943 Diary Page
This was a hot one but still nothing like last week so we have no room to complain. The news of the battle of Sicily is in our favor from the report of the “Stars & Stripes” which is the paper put out by the armed forces. They claim our losses are comparatively light and that the sky has been swept clean of enemy opposition. Of course our progress in the near future will say how much of that is propaganda and how much truth. There is one thing about N. Africa that I love and that is its early mornings and late in the evening. Especially now. The moon comes up almost before the sun has finished setting and it has turned cool. The olive trees in the grove where we are bivouacked slowly turn to ghostly silhouettes against the light blue of the moon light sky. All around you the friendly murmers of the mens voices rise and fall with their thoughts of home. It is a time when you can think and be at peace with the world even in this war torn hell. The mornings have their charm too. They are brisk and fresh with the morning dew. The early sun rises slowly changing the colors of the clouds through a hundred shades of red leaving them finally white and clean like puffs of cotton hanging motionless in the clear blue sky. About a mile to the north is a large B-26 squadron and the generally shatter the mornings’ silence with the warming of their motors in readiness to distributing their share of hell to the enemy northeast of here. I have a lot of things I want to remember after the war. Little treasures of thoughts and deed I’d never have had without the war.
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The Day That Was: July 13, 1943
|Greatest tank battle in history ended with Russia’s defeat of Germany at Kursk. Almost 6,000 tanks took part and 2,900 were lost by Germany. (http://timelines.ws/20thcent/1943.HTML)
Battle of Kolombangara. A task force consisting of 3 cruisers and 10 destroyers under Rear Admiral Ainsworth engages a Japanese cruiser and 5 destroyers escorting destroyer transports. (http://www.blountweb.com/blountcountymilitary/wars/ww2/timelines/1943_ww2.htm)
The British advance into Sicily continues with the capture of Augusta and Ragusa. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war-in-europe/southern-europe/southern-europe-index-1943.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