Lt. Lawson Reichard’s WWII Diary – June 15, 1943
Tuesday, June 15, 1943
Tabarka, Tunisia, North Africa
June 15, 1943 Diary Page
Tonight we are in Tabarka of Tunisia. It’s nearly the time for the full moon so the night is beautiful. I’m am (sic) writing this by the lights of a truck and it is fresh & cool. We are parked on the beach over looking the Mediterranean Sea and now I believe everything of its beauty I have ever heard. It’s blue and clear. Looks clean enough to drink and it’s wonderful to swim in. Right now the boys are out on a roof firing tracer bullets out into the sea and it looks like the fourth of July as the trace their fiery fingers across the sky. To the rear of me lies the town snuggled around the small harbor like a collar. It looks weird in the moonlight with its war shattered buildings standing like stark skeletons telling their tales with shattered rafters and sagging walls. It’s all over now and all is quiet but that memory will last forever. The people here are French and of the better class. They came over to see us and we tried to talk but not very successfully. It was interesting though. The reason we stopped of course was the beach and after the dust of those roads we went over today a swim looked like heaven. It was impossible for us to make Tunis tonight so I decided to stay here. We will sleep on the beach to the music of the surf. I wonder if there will be another night such as this. We are getting pretty close to the front. This afternoon just before we got here we pulled two trucks off a cliff. One had gone over and one hanging so that was a job. Well it’s time to turn in so had better make my bed.
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The Day That Was: June 15, 1943
|• The German raider, Michel, sank two ships off the west coast of Australia. (http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/asia-and-the-pacific/pacific-naval-war/pacific-naval-war-index-1943.htm)
• The Jaworzno concentration camp opened in the Auschwitz region. It contained two crematoriums. (http://www.neveragain.org/1943A.htm)
• The 58th Bombardment Wing of the Army Air Force was formed in Marietta, Ga. It was the first B-29 unit established by the Army Air Force. (http://ourgeorgiahistory.com/year/1943)
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: 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
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