Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – July 20, 1943

Tuesday, July 20, 1943
Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa

July 20, 1943 Diary Page

July 20, 1943 Diary Page

Well it’s a cinch I didn’t sleep much last night. This morning the boys were full of helpful suggestions such as ground glass and a shooting accident. I think Laurie is taking it harder than I am. This morning about 9:00 I woke up to see Major B____ who has just came back from Algiers. He’d said he’d found out about it there and had tried to stop it but had been too late. He said my recommendation had already been written up but he had just neglected to sign it. Now there just isn’t any 9.0. necessary as it’s a 1st Lt. I am for the duration. The Major is as sore as I am because they didn’t go through him in making that assignment. He has promised me the first thing that comes along. Of course that’s a military promise. The Capt. didn’t show up today although we have been expecting him. The afternoon about 3:30 we had quite a bit of excitement. An ammunition dump went up just a mile away. It consisted of 50’s &30 calibers. We were all called out to control any fires set off by the incendiaries and there was plenty of them. They were beautiful as they tumbled end over end high into the sky or shot about level with the ground like a red bird in full flight. I took a small crew of 4 men and we went in close. Now I know what it means to have bullets whistling all around you like angry bees from a newly busted hive. When they hit they sure could raise a nasty whelp. I got hit so many times I got used to it. Once my feet were kicked clear out from under me. We saved half the dump but the rest was a roving hell. I’m tired tonight.

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The Day That Was: July 20, 1943

•    The Italians surrendered to U.S. forces en masse in western Sicily. The Canadians started to push around Mt. Etna as the Catania drive faltered.

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.

Production Credits:
Diary transcription: Shari Seippel, Mary Brenneman

Diary photos: Claudia Forbes