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Donald F. Rodawig Papers: Transcripts - MS 1048

Donald F. Rodawig Diary - 1942

My Life in the Service

The Diary of Donald F. Rodawig

Your experiences in the armed forces of your country are your part of living history. By all means KEEP A DIARY! Times without number, historians and writers have found more information of real human interest in the diaries of enlisted men than in the studied accounts of generals and admirals. This book, conscientiously kept, may prove to be the living record of your destiny five hundred years from now!

Because the events recorded in these pages are likely to be the most significant experiences of your life, and the ones most worth remembering, DON'T TRUST YOUR MEMORY! Few minds are endowed with the capacity to recall in retrospect the dates and details of even the most important events. Cherished memories are distorted or lost forever during the passing of the years. The very names of your closest associates and dearest companions may be forgotten.

The value of this record lies in the future; the time for you to create that value is now. The effort required is small, but eminently worthwhile. Resolve to make an entry, however short, each day. As your diary takes form you will come to count as lost that day in which you have not written an account of its happenings.

There is a place in this book for your personal identification data, for service information you are required to keep, and for the primary facts of your service record. Under the disciplined and strenuous regime of service life you will note changes in your physical measurements which you will want to record, and space is provided for this.

There are convenient pages on which to keep the names and addresses of the folks back home, the dates on which you wish to send remembrances, the gifts you have received. You will want to keep a record of places you visit and your impressions of them. Then there are the interesting people you meet while in the service...your buddies, your officers, interesting civilians; in this book you will find space in which to write about them and to note their home addresses so that you can look them up if you should want to after you are mustered out. Use the autograph section of this book for the signatures of your buddies, together with a characteristic comment from each.

And, by all means, PICTURES! One picture is said to be worth a thousand words... get as many pictures as you can, of people and places, for an illustrated diary is the best of all!


Name Donald F. Rodawig
Rank Capt.     Serial Number 0462690
Unit 52nd Station Hospital
Stationed at Oujda Fr. Morocco
Religion Methodist
Date of Birth Feb 10 1905     Weight 225#
Color White     Color of Hair brown
Height 6'3"     Color of Eyes blue
Birthmarks or Other Distinguishing Features

Name Mrs Donald F. Rodawig
City Spirit Lake     State Iowa

*Service Record*

Transfers and Changes in Rank

May 8 194232nd Tng Bn Co BCamp Grant Ill.Capt J.B. Stubbs
June 2 194232nd Tng Bn Co ACamp Grant Ill.Capt Penfield
June 12 194252nd Station HospitalFt. Hancock N.J.Donald F. Rodawig
Aug 6 1942" "" "Maj H.B. Silvar
" """Lt Col. Guy Wells
Nov. 24 1942" "Camp Kilman N.J." "
Dec. 11 1942" "6565 W. Stapleton Staten Island" "
Dec 12 1942" "6556 W. To Sea Pier 16 USS Lyman"
Dec 26 1942" "Aine-El-Turck" "
Jan 12 1943""Oujda Fr Morocco""
Nov 28 1943""Goat Hill - Staging Area
Assi Ben Okba [zum Orani]
" "
Dec 6 1943" "To Sea - Hai-Lei HMS." "
Dec 9 1943" "11:31 AM. arrived in Nylos Harbor
to billets - Hihl Agnano
" "

The Following Pages Contain the Diary of my Life in the Service

This simple record of my daily experiences and thoughts has given me pleasure in the writing of it. If for any reason it leaves my possession, I would like to have it forwarded to:

Name Mrs. Donald F. Rodawig
City Spirit Lake State Iowa


November 1942

Nov 24 1942.
It has rained all day and our move to Camp Kelmer was held up until 5 PM and we didn't arrive until 6:30 PM. We find ourselves restricted to post tonite no telephone calls or letters are allowed in or out. Lt Chas Gallagher was sent to hospital for acute alcoholism and probably will be transferred from our outfit Present members are Lt Col. Guy Wells. Lt Max Black. Maj Drew Meyers. Lt. Clarence B. Foster Capt H.B. Tandy Lt. Ben Fishman Capt. John Murphy 2nd Lt. Graham Edwards Capt David Levinson Capt Earl Cleaves Capt Geo Feinstein "" Herman Bain Capt H. Winters Lt. L. Block - Lt. Irving Kossack Lt Walter Bird Lt. Lois Strabino

Nov 25 [---]
Gallagher returns to organization

December 1942

Dec 3 1942.
Nurses arrive in the organization as follows

Dec 10 1942
Chaplain Sutton from Bome [Boone?] Iowa joins the group

Dec 11 1942
We leave Camp Kelmer at 6:30 PM marching down to the train in total darkness take the Jersey central ferry to Pier 16. Stapleton Station Island where the unit boards the Naval Ship U.S. Lyon which has been converted from a freighter. Quarters here terribly crowded. 12 officers to a small state room but I am not complaining the enlisted men are packed into the galleys like rats - 6 day

Dec 12 1942 -
We leave N.Y.C. About 10:45 AM and join 20 other ships supposedly 40,000 troops are in this movement. 6 destroyers and a battleship furnish no protection and destroyer -

Dec 13 1942 -
A terrific storm everyone is sea sick. 2 [rows] of bunks in Hatch No 1 Collapse killing 2 soldiers.

Names 1).

Carelessness of the 1st degree believe some of these tin horn generals should be made to take such a trip. The men stand in line for hours to get a little food - it's a mess.

Dec 14 1942.
at 4:30 P.M. we buried the two soldiers at sea, the chaplain said a few words of prayer and as the bugle was blowing their bodies were dumped into the sea mummified and weighted (3 times their body weight) The U.S. Lyon was 1 part of the invasion fleet around Casa blanca in fact many of the sailors are alligators (sailor commandos) and landed at Safi about 75 miles below Casa blanca.

Dec 15 - 22 1942
Beautiful moonlight nites and a calm sea. Dec 22 8 AM Passed by the Maderra Islands and believe you me the sight of land looked mighty good.

Dec 23 1942.
Were having our Xmas dinner today it looks like we should land Dec 25 1942 probably at Oran. Probably will pass through Gibraltar tonite.

So much confusion among the officers again that I doubt if we ever have a decent organization - We have all been assigned soldiers to look after going ashore and we in turn must get our equipment off of 4 or 5 different boats

Our protection in this trip has consisted of 6 destroyers the Battleship New York and the Cruiser Philadelphia. I hope to see Sterling Guir when we get ashore as he is on the Battleship New York. Our ship the U.S.S. Lyon is a converted freighter armed with 3-4 inch guns and 20 mm. anti-air-craft and for the past several days in the afternoon we have had some target practice which has been interesting to watch they have an 8-10 mile range.

Dec 24 1942.
All nite long we have [traveled] up and down the Africa coast first north then south and at 8 AM this morning our convoy split. 5 troop transports 2 tankers including our ship were met by 5 English Corvettes and headed straight north and east for the St. of Gibraltar. The remaining ships with the Philadelphia and New York headed for Casa blanca.

We are traveling in very dangerous water I hope the "Limeys" do their stuff but our protection is mighty skimpy I hope we pick up some protection 5 days ago a transport convoy was attacked in the Mediterranean and the sea was littered with troops in life rafts. And German dive bombers that were shot down. We must have headed for Oran which will be a hot spot.

Dec 25 1942. 12 mid nite -
we are passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on the African side the city of Tangiers is fully lighted up and across the bay the big rock can be faintly made out. The harbor is so greatly mined that we are barely creeping. The city of Centa is directly opposite the city of Gibraltar. This all brings back so many pleasant memories dear! All day we have followed the Spanish coast going very slowly and tonite we will make a break for Oran

We are in a tough spot tonite and must keep our fingers crossed. We will have an early breakfast 5:30 AM and will arrive about 7 AM. All day the sailors were putting up booms preparing to unload the ship. Spain has a beautiful rugged coastline Col Wells asked me to remind him to tell me something in 2 or 3 months pertaining to the nite of Dec 24 1942.

Dec 26 1942
Arrived at the docks of Oran around noon and were told that at 3:30 we would leave the ship. We walked about 6 miles across the mountains to a little village Aine-El-Turck and were put in a very beautiful villa - Beautiful flowers and terraces but the building was completely bare and we were furnished with 2 blankets and a cot, the building was stone cold but were tired and went to bed. It is the rainy season here and although we have a beautiful spot over looking the Mediterranean Sea we certainly miss all the comforts we are used to. The natives are mostly Arabs and there are many Spanish and French people here - the language is predominantly French and Spanish. The Natives are very poor in fact some of the children got into our latrines the first nite and at the dengue and they are constantly begging for cigarettes - food and candy we visited the village Sunday morning and drank some cognac and wine Official rate of exchange is 75 francs to the dollar. We are served English rations in the park, which consists mainly of tin hard tack and corned beef. Occasionally we can get some vegetables. I went back to the ship Dec 28 1942 and bought $142.00 worth of candy - cigarettes [peanuts?] etc. and we will open our own P.X. so the men can get a few things occasionally.

Our quarter master department reaches an all time high of inefficiency. The ships brought over 8 million lbs of food and it is lying on the dock practically rotting and 6 miles away our men are doing without it makes you boil. Pure cane sugar laying on the docks getting soaking wet and no provision made to store it.

The ship has 200,100 gallons of gasoline it can spare and no place to store it and after fighting the submarines for 5000 miles they are taking it back with them. Colonel Sturgeon of the 12 General Hospital has been made camp commander. This entire village has been made into a medical depot and only medical troops are stationed here. 12-61 and 52. Yesterday we were told that we will move to Oujda a town of 70,000 to establish our hospital and this would be done when our supplies could be gotten together and from the looks of the docks lord only knows when this can be done. The bottle neck in supplies is due to lack of transportation since many of the ships filled with trucks for this area was torpedoed.

Word received that a transport had been sunk 4 or 5 days ago with a high loss of American soldiers, nurses and W.A.A.C. This makes us all feel mighty lucky that we all are here safely.

Dec 29 1942
A large convoy left the port of Oran this morning and from Ain-El-Turck it made a beautiful site and as we watched it leave suddenly the English corvette began shooting and a regular battle developed and soon we could see a ship a fire. And we believe that either the ship was sunk by a sub or the 1 sub was sunk by the corvettes

Went to Oran today to visit the M.B. Headquarters and we could see that there is a vast confusion - no one has any ideas and there is lack of organization probably due to transportation - The amount of waste is terrific.

Had a good meal at the Red Cross my first today -

Came home in a truck over the back road and that mountain road is mighty treacherous the main road was dynamited during the invasion and this is the only road available it reminds me of the road up to Silver City, Colorado.

We are all restricted to the confines of the village and cannot leave the post except on official business. I heard the natives are getting mad because we are taking their water supply - Sniping is still common and we have to stay in our quarters after dark - The entire medical detachment has been issued arms and many dont know which end to shoot as they have had no practice - We are supposed to be a non combatant group - like Hell!

Dec 30 1942
It has rained all day, the buildings are stone cold! and on 2 meals a day we have to stay in bed to keep warm. Persistent rumors can be heard that Spain has been invaded by Germany. The Germans and Italians are past masters at propaganda.

Dec 31 1942.
It is still raining, breakfast consisted of sausages, hard tack and tea. Met Sgt. Lavin, Feinburg and Bowen from the 151st, they are stationed at La-Cenea Airport on the other side of Oran. There will be no New Years Eve party this evening - but we managed a few bottles of wine, sardines and some hard tack for a little celebration. We sang college songs and in general had a grand time.

MS 1048 - Donald F. Rodawig Papers | List of Transcripts
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