|How the 17th Won the war!
by Joe Donato
We landed in Casablanca, French Moracoo in the North Africa on December 24, 1942, late in the day. We filed of the Susan B. Anthony, the ship that we crossed over in with a large convoy. A 13 day trip across the Atlantic Ocean during the hieght of German submarine warfare without any loss to our convoyby enemy action! Some up stairs was really watching over us.
Late in the day we filed off the ship after we filled our canteens with water and were issued 3 packs of "K" rations as well as a bandolier of ammo for our rifles.
From the piers we marched all night until about midnight, stopping twice along the way to eat and est our feet. We camped in a feild and slept until the Sun rose on Christmas Day. As the day started local Arabs came around and just stood and watched us. Then a jeep pulled up and a Chaplain jumped out, he unloaded a bale of hay for a alter so he could say Christmas services for all who wanted to attend.
Later that same day, we were marched to a nearby hanger at Cozeo airfield. The condition of the hanger was a mess, with junk all over. We cleaned an area and woutld sleep on the floor on our shelter halves with a blanket over us. At this time we had not taken a shower or remoived our clothes for at least 15 days since Stateside.
By New Years eve we were still sleeping in the hanger and on midnight New Year's day, the air raid sirens went off, a German long range bomber dropped 3 bombs nearby. Lucky there were no casualties. The following day, Jan 1 1943 was my 23rd birthday. Also we found out our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill were holding a conference in Casablaca.
Their motorcade with a heavy momotor cycle escort passed by us as we were rolling 50 gallon drums of gas to a gas dump. We waved to him and Churchill and they both waved back!
After New Years day, we were relocated to an open air statium, 2 men to a tent, Ben Dobbs and I pooled out shelter halves to make a pup tent to call out home. Soon after we decided to expand our "living quareters" we had noticed large plywood boxes that P-40 belly tanks had been shipped in from the U.S. to Cazeo airfield nearby. Ben and I noticed some empty crates set off to a side. So that night after it got dark, we mosied over to the air field and picked one up, and carried it back to our tent, we did this without being detected. We were elated, we could vision a roomier home, the box with a shelter halve top!
But we had a slight problem, we then noticed all the screws holding the top on were in place! The box had not yet been opened and there still was a belly tank inside. We took the box back where we "found" it at once.
The next night we tried again. This time we made sure the box was empty. How dumb could we have been? No trouble at all to be this way.
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