Center for Archival Collections

Reference Services | Manuscripts by Subject | CAC Homepage

Donald F. Rodawig Papers: Transcripts - MS 1048

Donald F. Rodawig Diary, January - June 1943

Diary - 1943

January 1943

Jan 1 1943 -
Happy New Year to my family and I sincerely hope they have the best this coming year. Visited a French home this morning and took them some evaporated milk and soap for the baby and in return they will buy us some wine from the village. The milk situation is serious only babies get a little each day but it is very low in caloric value.

We were on the roof about 3 P.M. watching a convoy coming into Oran and all of a sudden there was a terrific explosion and fire shot up higher then the clouds and in about a minute we heard the explosion and another minute the entire shore trembled.

We think that a ship was torpedoed or hit a mine. It all happened so quickly that we are sure no survivors were saved - Boy we were lucky to get here all in one piece.

Jan 3 1943.
A nice beautiful Sunday morning went to church in the tennis court in the Marshall Petain Park across the way Chaplain Sultni gave a very instructive service. Col Wells gave Capt Tendy and I permission to go to Oran to visit hospitals. We hitch hiked to Oran by the good will of Pilot Officer Jamison and Hunter of the British Air Force we got a ride in a station wagon direct to La Senia Air field to visit Col Boyds 151st Station Hospital and renewed all old acquaintances there - Maj Buxton, Lt McElroy, Montigue, Booker Capt Cantor Capt. Sprague, Lt Pettit. Gelber Had a nice look at the Station Hospital a good meal and Col Boyd sent us back to Oran in his jeep - Stayed at the Guantin hotel attended a Enlisted mans stage show had 2 beers at a nite club and to bed in a lousy hotel. No hot water no toilet paper or towels.

On way in from La Senia Air field visited Boot Hill where the first American casualties were buried - a rather gruesome sight especially at sunset with the white crosses with the name organization and date of death. The first one we looked at was from Asbury Park.

Jane 4 1942.
Went to the 7th Station Hospital which was taken over from the French some 750 patients with a lot of battle casualties. Saw a melino-sarcoma gland removed in biopsy from a 28 year old patient and a eye ensucleation from a boy who had an altercation with an M. Police. Col. Burger stated that he was going to write a letter demanding better treatment of the soldiers by the M.P.

Jan 6 1943
Spent the entire day setting up tents for the 12th General and such a job the ground was so stormy that we had trouble getting the [----] in - On good American rations 3 meals a day - Hoorah!

Hospital beds were moved into our villa and rumor has it we will soon move.

Col Wells and Lt Black leave in the morning as an advanced guard to our new location . Went to a party of the 21st Inf last nite with Capt Furman - they leave in the AM for the front and are all pretty concerned about it. the Germans outnumber us at Tunisia. Talked to a Battalion

Surgeon (Major) who invaded Oran and they valley catch hell - work right in the field with very little equipment. A Huge convoy 42 ships came into Oran today probably 100,000 troops (42 ships)

Jan 7 1943 -
Another convoy 14 ships came in

Jan 9 1943
Our new station will be Oujda Col Wells Lt Block and 4 enlisted me left as an advanced detail.

Jan 10 1943
Maj Meyers, Lt Strapino Lt Gallagher and Lt Shomeker plus 18 enlisted men left as 2nd advanced detail, I am Co. movements order curve through on or about Jan 10 1943.

Jan 11 -
The entire day was spent loading our personal equipment and at 1:30 PM we left Aine El Turck by motor convoy. We loaded 50 tons of hospital equipment between 2:30 PM and 9 PM. There was a terrific wind storm and for the first time I can understand why we were issued polarized eye goggles. I stand the entire time on the loading platform at the station and supervised the loading of our hospital equipment. It took 18 cars for all the equipment. We stand around from 9 PM to 1245 AM. when the entire equipment and personnel left for Oujda a distance of 130 miles. It will take us 20 hours.

Jan 12 1943
Slept in a box car Capt Winters and I were in charge of the guards - (1 to each of the 18 cars. Rations were c rations - Meat and Beans, biscuits and chocolate bars. Was so tired and dirty we just folded up in blankets and passed out. Arrived at Oujda 9 AM was met at the train by Col Wells who did not have things too well organized. Nurses were taken to hospital by car pictures were taken as they entered the hospital. A marvelous building that I will describe later. Letters from home O boy! My first

Jan 13 1943
Spent entire day unloading freight cars and unpacking equipment. Had breakfast at Hotel Termino and I saw more generals than I had seen in my life. - This is headquarters for the 5th Army Core.

Tonite went to 2 brothels with Lt Strobino he has charge of the prophylactic stations and must visit them each nite - What a mess! I cant see how American soldiers could stoop so low - Dirty old Arabs and half breds - soldiers lined up 2 or 3 deep - thin too a propo station. Brothels of course are supposedly state controlled and written permission must be gotten from the C.O. before admittance is given. M.P.s are stationed at the door. I will describe the hospital later - our APO is now 464. The 4th change in A.P.P.

Jan 14 1943
A morning spent doing hard manual work at the hospital. Tonite Col. Bruce called and asked me to bring some medicine to General Clarek's villa that he was ill with a diarrhea, to my amazement when I walked into the Aide-de-Camp's office I personally met the General (the youngest general in the army) He noticed my 32º Mason ring and informed he was a member of the Consistory.

On the way out a French Captain came rushing to our ambulance and informed me that there had been a plane crashed and a Captain Hubert Baugh had been killed Cleveland Ohio. We rushed out and found a mass of human and plane wreckage. We brought the body to town and found the G.M. had no method of death registration here so the body had to be taken to Oran for burial.

Jan 16 1943.
Genl Clark and Gen Blesse (Chief Surgeon) visited our hospital. Gen Clark is tall, 46 yrs old and very handsome he walked up to each of us officers and said "Clark is my name." He has a lot on the ball and appears to be the highest type of executive. We are living in the Jassmine Villa and have a very nice set up - Hospital beds and all. Capt Tandy - Levinson and I are living together. Erdwerm, Block, Bird and the Chaplain at the hospital.

Jan 18 1943.
Another air plane crash and 2 pilots were brought to the hospital for care and as the surgical service was not set up we had to transfer them to the French Military Hospital and what a dirty hole it is. It was a shame to put our men in such a hole and the Col told me to go to Oran to get more supplies to get the surgical service opened up. The one pilot died and another private was murdered the nite previously in a bar by a nizoo private so we had to haul them to Oran by ambulance as there is no grave registration here in Oujda. So it was kind of a gruesome trip and when we arrived in Oran we delivered them to the morgue at the 7th Station Hospital. 384 had been buried to date at Boot hill. Picked up our supplies and finished at 2 AM. slept in a medical supply depot and returned the next day - Tclemceu is a beautiful city in the mountains with an old wall around it built by a Sultan of Turkey some 300 yrs B.B. Arabs have contour farming down to a science.

Jan 20 1943.
Attended a good Red Cross show put on by French Actors - very spicy indeed.

Jun [January] 21 1943.
Spent day writing history and worked getting the disinfector and shower bath machine in operation. Capt H Furman came over from Oran and spent the nite with us. The 5th Army Corp headquarters is here and Genl Clark and Blisse is going to get us attached directly to the 5th army instead of Service of Supply. This will be a big buck and the sky is the limit for all of us if we can produce.

Oran was bombed last nite - Capt Furman said it was pretty hot out at La Senia Air field - one plane crashed.

Jan 23 1943
Visited the Indigne Arab City Hospital and what a site. dirt, filth rooms stone cold and syphillus, dysentery and TB. in great quantities. Saw the largest [lu-tic condylmets?] on the vulva - [T----, lives, lice?].

July 31 1943 [i.e., January]
Pay day - received the extra $100 clothing allowance and received mail from my family - boy oh boy what a break.

February 1943

Feb 1 1943 -
Lt. Genl. Clark and Gen Noquea reviewed the French and American troops stationed here - The cenotaph (Tomb of unknown Soldiers) was decorated. Thousands of people and school children cheered them. Motion Cameras clicked constantly. I wonder if we were included was standing very close. The native Arab band led the French divisions - a very colorful sight - One company of foreign legion stationed here. [------] a big applause. The Psh a 1 leader of the native Arab tribes, also was included in the courtesy. these is no doubt the the French here will cooperate with us. Gen De Gaulle flew in today for a conference - Things aren't going so well for us in Tunisia - The German tanks are superior to ours - have 8 inch armor - 60 of our tanks went to the front - only 13 remained - Rumor has it the Germans are landing 1,000 troops daily by plane thus giving relief to the Russians - A great battle will so be fought here and we may knock the Germans and Italians completely out of the war

Feb 4 1943 -
Went to see Martha Page [Raye?] in a show, although being [ill] with a cold she went on with the show - a great morale builder

Feb 5 1943 -
A nice letter from Bill dated Jan 7 1943 - Operated a pitsnidal [pilonidal?] cyst this morning - Ei gastive Hima Monday morning - great work.

Sent $150.00 home on Monday wished I had kept it. The Franc is worth 50 to $1.00 and had been paid on basis of 75 to $1.00.

Feb 9 1943.
Attended a wild boar dinner given by Maj Meyers at the Brassiere De France. It was attended by his French hunting companions, It consisting 5 courses - split pea soup, egg omelete, boar [nds?] and gravy - Roast leg of boar - French fried potatoes - lettuce salad. coffee - Apertiff, red wine, cognac.

Feb 10 1943 -
My birthday no mail from home - I wish this war was over.

Feb 16 1943.
Hugh received word that his nephew was accidentally killed Jan 11 1943. What a blow to his wife. He is buried at Cosablanca. He was 28 yrs old, married and volunteered for service.

Feb 17 1943
We are having a lot of internal strife. Graham Eilwer seems to have assumed to much authority and is trying to run the whole show. He is not popular with the other officers. Then the usual amount of bickering - I swear the peace and quiet of Iowas God given acres will look good to me - I am sure that my disposition has improved and I have [---ed] there will be no more quarrels in our family.

Feb 25.
Capt Winters was transferred to a field artillery outfit - Many letters from home. I really and truly love my family and am mighty proud of them

Hugh got back from Casablanca located Chas Ellis (his nephews) grave. Grave no 96. Casablanca and brought back his diary which will be priceless to his wife

Feb 27 1943 -
Hugh gave me a copy of Charles Ellis (his nephews) diary. which I will hold and in case something happens to Hugh I can forward it to his wife after the war. His wifes address is

Mrs. C.M. Ellis
42 Palm St.
Abeline Texas

This is being placed in my footlocker

March 1943

March 1 1943
Hugh received his Majority today and we are going to the Hotel Terminus to celebrate his good fortune. Sent $60.00 home to my sweetheart. Had a long talk with Col Wells I am next as soon as there is a vacancy.

March 11 1943.
There has been a lot of plane activity around Oujda - many on there way to the front. We are going to the airfield and will see the first paratroopers jump from planes here - hope we might see Loud Schumman or John Eby. with the Group Have made a recent trip to Oran with patients for the 12th General Hospital. Col. Sturgen's outfit. Met Dave Levinson and we stayed at the Touring Club Hotel and returned the next day. Beautiful scenery especially at Telemean which is in the mountains.

March 12.
I saw the most impressive military maneuver since being in the service. 600 paratroopers landed here by a mass jump. 18 men to a plane flying in formation. The sky was literally filled with paratroopers it was a precision maneuver the like of which I have never seen.

March 13 1943 -
4 good letters from home. it sure peps you up.

March 22 1943
The most impressive maneuver today - Taking an airfield by the paratroopers. P-40 over the field at 10,000 ft. bombing it and then A 20's (small bombers) over the field at 200 feet bombing the field instillations while the P40s were protecting them then 13 transports over the field at 400 ft. the paratroopers jumped - the officer was the first out of the plane and after landing they quickly formed and attacked the remaining [c---s] of the field and then after all installations were knocked out Air borne infantry were landed for reinforcements while the planes over head protected the skies over head from enemy planes what a site - Many demonstrations of demolition equipment, booby traps - this was given for the President of [B---] who is visiting here.

March 23 -
Letters from home dated 3/6/43 and 3/10/43 - income taxes $4,000 - whoa --?

March 27 - nite - 10 PM
200 paratroopers are going to make their first nite jump and work on a tactical problem. Capturing an airfield. We are on the field with an ambulance awaiting casualties - The planes are over head - the men are jumping at 500 ft. and are missing the field - In all 22 casualties mostly wrenched backs, ankles, and a few fractures.

April 1943

April 2 -
Another nite parachute-jump at Breugent - 80 kilometers south of here on the border of the Sahara. A big air plane field is being developed down there - a beautiful ride over the mountains down on the plains. It is very dark - a lot of mosquitoes - I hope not carrying malina. 22 casualties tonite - Some of our officer were in the planes watching the men jump but thought I had better stay down. Lt Cleaves made 1st Lt.

8 letters from home during last 2 days my I am lucky to have such a grand wife and family - I love them dearly. We have been awfully busy at the hospital - we most assuredly will expand to a 500 bed unit. War news is good - I wonder how long it will take - am getting mighty homesick.

April 7, 1943.
A nice trip to the Mediterranean Sea at Port Say with Hugh, a swim - it is so peaceful down there - cant be there is a war going on.

April 19 1943
Met two boys from Iowa Sgt Propst, S/Sgt Lem Whigham from Des Moines and Marshalltown - had been at the front and I understand, have had a lot of action - with the 34th Division. They tell me Capt Burdick, Bergeson and Corcoran have been captured.

April 17 -
Levinson, Foster and I went through the Medina, its countless winding narrow streets made it easy to get lost. The stores are dark, small and dirty all native goods are contaminated with many diseases, anthrax. I cant believe that they like us very much - they look like they would cut your throat for a dime, as we got near the residence section they began following us, it was just twilight and Foster who understands a little Arabic tried to get the children to invigil us into a house - Visited 6 Arabic brothels with the military police and what a debacle - as I have written that is there the slaves go for intercourse - native dances - the girls dressed in native costume - it is quite unbelievable that conditions exist like this - It is an experience that I wont write about but will remember for some time

Recd #15 letter from home - a letter from Don dated 3/28/43.

Started taking [Arabian?] today, each Monday and Thursday evening after dinner. Our beds are decorated with mosquito nets - Have had many lectures in malina control. Met Lt Commander Pangborn from Philadelphia. he is C.O. of naval hospital at Nemours. St/Sgt Frederick Sail received news that he is the father of twin sons born April 1st.

I have been to Sadia for a week running the dispensary for the recreation camp 5th Army. It rained almost the entire week but the last 2 days were sunshiny and enjoyed the beach very much. Lt Gallagher was the M.A.C. officer - Wednesday sprained by ankle and had to come back to the hospital May 5 1943.

May 1943

May 8 1943
One year in the hospital today.

May 9 1943
Met Capt Raybourn who is with the 10th platoon Sup Hospital ship and since leaving Ft Hancock has been really through the works.

Met Arlo Fox and Junior Frank 4/29/43 and had to inform him of his mothers death - he has been with the 1st Ranger Bn stationed now at Nemrous and are training new troops for the invasion of Europe.

May 9 1943 -
The 8th Air borne division is coming in it is expected that 20,000 troops will be training here. Our hospital will probably be increased to 500 beds to take care of this increase

May 10 1943.
Have received a lot of letters in the last few days.

May 16 1943
The Surgeon General Kirk and Gen Morgan visited our hospital this Sunday afternoon.

May 20 1943
I took a load of patients to the 21st Gen at Bon Henifer a wonderful hotel [----] there is continuous hot water temp 160º that comes from the mountains at all times. The building is heated with this water. Stopped at Sick Del Asus and saw Maj Silver. A beautiful trip wheat is ripening and the grape fields are getting so green. The flowers are gorgeous.

May 24 1943
Chaplain G.H. Sutton of Boone Iowa transferred to the 34th Division Iowa boys. Chaplain Clune a Catholic Chaplain was sent in as a replacement.

The 95th Evacuation Hospital moved in at the air port and will support the 82th Airborne Division. This will cut down our work considerably as we had planned to do their emergency work. There has been a lot of training going on here - Gliders etc the skies are filled with planes from morning till nite. The Rangers at Nemors are expanding.

May 26
I met a Colonel Wilkinson Division Surgeon for the 1st Armoured Division who has been at the front for the entire Tunisian Campaign all about the defeat they suffered at Kasserine pass and how 110 meridian tanks from the 1st British Army saved the day for them as the Germans had the entire core allmost [sic] surrounded. Meeting Eisenhower in a village about 3 [---] close to the front, the artillery pattern laid down by [-] Bu. each Ben having 18 guns - how they crossed behind the British 1st Army the French to spearhead the attack at Mateur and Gaspa - a marvelous feat never before accomplished. They captured 2 well equipped German hospitals with about 800 patients in.

May 28 1943
Saw a hospital train this morning with 385 Germans prisoners in - stopped by 4M.C. 6 nurses and 43 enlisted men - The prisoners looked so young - boys of 15, Older men appeared happy, the younger ones a little sullen - that is due to the Nazi training they have received they know nothing else. Visited the 95th Evacuation Hospital in full operation met their C.O. a Col. Saucer. Met a Maj. Courter from Springville Iowa a nice fellow. Visited the Airport and found the field loaded with C47s and gliders. We see gliders being towed all day long - can stay up for about 1 hour without any motor

May 31 1943
Maj Dow Meyers from Kingston New York was transferred to the 3rd Auxillary hospital A.P.O. 700 and his place is being taken by Major Langdon Parsons of the 6th Gen Hospital - Col Wells seems to be well pleased with the change.

June 1943

June 1 1943
Met Art Bascom - Mearly's boy while meeting a troop train - grand to see some one from home.

June 3
Maj Parsons reports for duty a swell fellow and a very capable surgeon from Mass General Hospital he had formerly been with 6th Gen Hospital Casablanca which was the Mass General Hospital group. I have neglected this book all summer long - the 82nd Air borne division was in training and our hospital was jammed full - when I look back at it it was a wonderful experience for me.

MS 1048 - Donald F. Rodawig Papers | List of Transcripts
Manuscripts by Subject | Family Collections | U.S. in Wartime