• Indian River VFW History

Ted's Diary.

Ted's first entry was dated Feb. 1, 1943. It reads: Port Lyautey, Africa. "Tonight, knowing we would be leaving for points unknown in the morning, we visited several friends and bid them good-bye." From there Ted headed east by train, a train made up of narrow gauge boxcars he called "40 & 8's", reminiscent of W.W.I, when they shipped 40 men and 8 horses in similar cars.

Wed. Feb. 3, 43: "Sand, sand, sand and more sand across the barren waste of desert," he wrote. "Stopped from time to time and had a can of beans and a cup of coffee. Every stop we were hounded by dirty Arab kids begging for 'chew gum', 'Bon-Bons', cigarettes and matches."

Thurs. Feb. 18, 43: "Nearly froze to death last night, cold, raining with mud up to my ankles, no shelter - had to sleep on the ground."

Fri. Feb. 19, 43: "20 mile march in cold rain - soaked to the bone." "C-rations and coffee."

Thurs. Feb. 25, 43: "Couldn't get enough water to shave. Sure needed it - haven't shaved since we left the olive grove 7 days ago."

Sun. Feb. 28, 43: "B-17 Flying Fortresses flew over today - had fighter escort - headed for the Kasserine Pass where the British have about 150 men holding on."

Fri. Mar 5, 43: "Told to prepare for German paratroopers."

Sun. Mar 7, 43: "Got package from Bessie, cigarettes, candles, peanuts. Guard duty 4-6."

Sun. Mar 14, 43: "Saw our first German planes this a.m. Went through Lebesta Pass, German mines all over the place. Many German and Italian trucks etc. destroyed. Attacked by 3 "Jerry" planes. Ran and looked for a hole. Hit the ground and all hell broke loose. Lead was dancing all around us and the pilot cut a streak in the road directly behind us. Truck mounted 30 cal.. machine guns cut loose and tracers were flying over us as well. The planes were not more than 50' off the ground. I thought to myself, "My God, will this never end? I turned to see one of the planes smoking and it tried to gain altitude, but couldn't. I saw a white streak in the air and thought it was smoke, but it was the pilot's parachute. The plane erupted into a mass of flames and crashed a short distance away. We jumped into the truck and took out after the pilot. By the time we got there, the pilot had gathered up his chute and tried to hid in the tall grass. Other troops joined in the hunt and one of them fired several shots into the area and the pilot jumped up and threw his hands into the air. He was a young man about 18-20 and he spoke English. He was singed and black from the smoke. His chute was torn to shreds, but he seemed to be unhurt otherwise and they took him away and turned him over to the Air Corp. Got part of his chute as a souvenir."

Sun. Mar 21, 43: "Col. Rhodes briefed us today. The 60th's mission is to go through to Mandia, on the coast and cut off the Germans, leaving the crack 21st and 10th Panzer Divisions at the Mareth Line for the British. The 60th is moving to Maknassey-a German ammo dump. Pulled guard duty - the password, "Throw Balls!"

Tues. Mar 30, 43: "150 new replacements came in from Ft. Hamilton, Brooklyn. They left the states March 5 and arrived in Oran March 19.

Thurs. Apr. 15, 43: "Swam in the Mediterranean Sea. The beach was almost as nice at Burt Lake and water nearly as cold as it is back home in April."

Sun. Apr. 18, 43: "Crossed the border between Algeria and Tunisia. Hear that Zykeman had been killed."

Roberts reports seeing his first "chain saw!" Sun. May 2, 43: "Discovered lots of abandoned German equipment. Saw a chain drive saw and it was a beautiful piece of machinery. It was about the size of a two-man buck saw and a sharp chain blade that ran around a piece of steel. It had two handles on one end and a pulley on the other. They used it to cut down trees."

Sun. May 16, 43: "Bizerte in ruins. Navy and PT boats and landing barges everywhere."

Thurs. July 29, 43: "Oran. Got to the docks, carried everything we had to the ship. Destination unknown."

Sat. July 31, 43: "Saw land at 6:45 a.m., made harbor at night. Palermo, Sicily. Air raid before leaving ship."

Mon. Aug. 2, 43: "Took off for the front-through Gangi, Nicosia and Troina. Heavy artillery barrage all night."

Thurs. Aug. 18, 43: "Memorial service near Troina. 63 Graves, each with white cross and the man's dog tags hanging from them. As far as I was concerned, the service was for Pfc. Theodore S. Borowski 36124565 Hq. Cl. 60th Inf. He was from St. Clair Shores, MI. Ran over a mine with his truck, was wounded badly and died on his way to hospital. Buried at 9th Div. Cemetery, Troina, Sicily Aug. 10, 1943. 84 German graves nearby."

Wed. Sept. 1, 43: "School would be ready to start if I was home, so I'm as well off over here."

Thurs. Sept. 8, 43: "Got news that Italy had surrendered to the Allies as of Sept. 3. Went to see Al Jolson-very entertaining, along with being a fine singer. He posed for lots of pictures."

Sept. 21, 43: "Transferred to Company "G" 60th Inf. Div., 2nd Platoon, 3rd Squad. Met Larry Lahaie from Cheboygan, who is 1st Sgt. Had a Division review for General George Patton. I was 4 down and 2 in from old "Blood and Guts" himself!"

At this point, Ted Roberts' diary reads: "Palermo, Sicily to Portsmouth, England Nov. 9, 1943 to November 23, 1943. "Got up early, loaded on trucks and headed for the docks. When we got there, had to carry everything we owned about 2 miles to the gangplank. Stood in rain then went aboard the USAT Santa Paula. Figured there were 5000 EM and Officers and 60 nurses on the ship. Once again we were on the water. Followed the coastline of Africa."

Sun. Nov. 14, 43: "Went through the Straits of Gibraltar. It looked just like the Prudential Insurance ad. Rough out on the North Atlantic and got colder as we headed north."

This is where Ted Roberts' diary ends. Back to VFW