Saturday, November 07, 2009

the fateful news

Ft. Dix to God knows where

March 1942

After a week in the 109th we were put into a Casual Detachment, an organization composed of soldiers from every branch of the service. On Feb. 28th 1942 we rec'd the fateful news that we were going "overseas". Called Mother & told her about it, but she wouldn't believe me.

So, on Sunday March 1, 1942 we left Ft. Dix by the train, and headed for the Brooklyn Navy Yard & boarded our troop ship on Mon. March 2nd 1942 at 2:30 A.M. Our officers were Capt. Meyers and Sgt. Scott who turned out to be two swell fellows. We later found out that the name of the ship as the Santio Lucia, once a luxury liner. It belongs to the "Gray Line".

We stayed in dock until Tues. March 3 1942 at noon, when we pulled out into the harbor opposite Ellis Island, where we stayed until the next day ( which was Wed. March 4, 1942) At the time we pulled out to sea headed for "God knows where".

We headed due South, the weather was fairly warm and the water a beautiful blue by the time we hit the Florida Coast. Our convoy is now considered the largest in history, which included 5 troop ships, 8 cruisers and 1 aircraft carrier (sunk) 2 destroyers and a mine sweeper.

On March 14, 1942 we sighted land for the first time. It was "Panama". We stayed there until the next day at 5:15 A.M. when we again pulled out to sea. Eleven days later we sighted land for the second time. This was the island "Bora Bora" 90 miles from Tahiti. On leaving the island our next stop was Tahiti to take on a few supplies. We stayed there overnight & hit the high seas again.

We crossed the "International Date Line" on April 1st, 1942.


This is part of Harry's War Diary: every word, ever phrase, every abbreviation and every "puncuation" is exactly as it appears in his handwritten diary. The first 12 pages of his journal covers 7 months of service and catches up to his assignment in the Solomon Islands.

As I transcribe Harry's handwriting, I noticed that every time he lists a date it is complete with the year. He doesn't even shorten it to '42. An admirable quality that Harry is practicing; the desire to not leave details untold, and not to leave assumptions.

Harry M. Haslam (1919 - 2007) was my husband's father and I'm publishing these excerpts with Jody's blessing. We honor Harry and the 'swell fellows' that he served with in WWII.

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