Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – May 31, 1943
Monday, May 31, 1943
Casablanca, North Africa
May 31, 1943 Diary Page
Today I did quite a bit of running around. It started out a perfectly peaceful day with very little to do and ended up pretty busy. Capt. Blay came out about ten a.m. and asked me if my equipment had come in. I told him there was nothing in sight so we both took off for the “Oasis” which is the ordnance dump. I have made it a point to check that place every evening so I knew blame well there was nothing there. Then we went downtown to his office and started checking over records and still found nothing. It ended up by his requesting a complete shortage list of everything we do not actually have on hand. I came on back out and started Sgt. Sanders and T.K. Moore to work on it and they have at least a two day job. We made a physical check of every piece of equipment we have which meant tearing open all the boxes sent over and sorting them piece by piece. While we were going over this stuff a P-38, a P-51 and P-39 came overhead and started a dog-fight. It seems that both the 51 & 39 went after the 38 but the 39 didn’t have a chance so was left out of most of it. We watched them rolling around the sky like a bunch of mainiacs (sic) for half an hour. It was interesting. I don’t think it will be long before we will be seeing the real thing. Tonight I had a date with a nurse. She was from Rising Sun Maryland and had met Chick at West Nottingham _______ at one of the dances. It’s a small world. We went to a show in town.
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The Day That Was: May 31, 1943
|• By the end of May, 41 U-boats have been sunk in the Atlantic due to greatly improved allied anti-submarine techniques and tactics (Hedgehog, greater-range patrol aircraft, better radar, more escort vessels and carriers, plus the advantage of having broken the German Navy Enigma code). “Black May” effectively marks the end of a sustained German U-boat campaign in WW2 which did come very close to starving out Britain and forcing her to make terms with Germany. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/war-at-sea/atlantic/battle-of-the-atlantic-index-1943.htm)
• Chiang Kai-Shek claims three Japanese divisions have been surrounded on Yangtze River. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/asia-and-the-pacific/asian-mainland/asian-mainland-index-1943.htm)
• The submarine USS Steelhead (SS-280) lays mines off Erimo Sake, Japan. (http://www.blountweb.com/blountcountymilitary/wars/ww2/timelines/1943_ww2.htm)
• In Italy, the US 15th Air Force bombs Axis airfields at Foggia, destroying many aircraft on the ground. (http://www.feldgrau.com/may.html)
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.
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