Posts Tagged ‘diary’

The working parties did not return to our original camp on Aug. 9, but on Aug. 10 we found out that one gang suffered seventeen deaths from shellings. They were all Dutch men. After spending most of the 10th cleaning up what we could around the camp, we began carrying wood to burn the bodies of the deceased men. There was more air activity–dive bombing and strafing.

We were then moved to new living quarters which were located in the center of the steel mill. We were to live in an old school house that had been almost completely destroyed by shell fire; the only thing left standing was the gym, so we moved into it. It was a forty-five minute walk from our camp to the new location, and we carried the wounded with us. I learned upon our arrival there that another pal of mine, Justin Walsh, USMC, was killed in the bombing.

We still had no medications or bandages for the wounded, and our meals consisted of two very small rice balls a day. Most men had only what they were wearing, and no blankets or toilet gear. I came through with my work suit, cap, and a pair of old worn out shoes. Later I retrieved from a fox hole my dog tags, a Chinese silver dollar, a razor, and a silver cigarette case that all were damaged from the fire. I lost all other personal belongings, including my diary entries that I had tried so hard to keep even though they were written on labels off of tin cans, toilet paper, cement sack scraps, or anything else I could find to write on.

On July 10 I was working on the air raid tranch [sic] and on the water detail. I had a really close call just after we had taken our lunch break. I was inside the barracks resting a few minutes before we had to return to work. I was on the top tier in this barracks, also. The Camp Commandant came in, and someone hollered “Kecatskay,” which means come to attention. The Camp Commandant started going through the personal belongings of different ones in our squad. When he came to my bunk spot, he stopeed and picked up my box that I had my diary things in, and began going through it. It was a heavy cardboard box that I had put a false bottom in. [sic] and that is where I kept my records. On the top side of the box I had the diary they were having us keep, along with my toothbrush, razor and other personal items. The bottom of this was held in place with four small nails to keep it from falling out when it was picked up. It looked as if he were trying to figure out why the box was so heavy for no more things than were in the box. I stood there and sweated as he took each thing out, knowing that finally he would get to my notes that I had been keeping and that I would be punished really severely, as this was one thing they would not allow. Luck was with me, and here again God took care of me, for just at that moment the Air Raid alert sounded, and the Commandant dropped the box as if it was on fire and ready to explode in his hands. We cleared the barracks and went to the trench that we were digging for shelter. Here again we were lucky; the all-clear sounded about an hour later, and we did not see one plane.