René’s journal entry for June 27, 1943…



            On the 27th, I took 3 of the trucks and the jeep in to the Ordnance office and turned them in. Then tried to find the dope on getting the men paid, but was unable to find anyone who knew anything about it. When I returned, I found I was scheduled to board a ship that afternoon with my men. The 8th men also were to board theirs, and Eddie Welles, also, but the rest weren’t assigned yet. Naturally, I got my things together, prepared to store most of the stuff and take only barracks bag (an extra one I had) and musette bag aboard with me.

            In the afternoon, we piled into what is known as an LCT, and were taken out to Lake Bizerte where all the ships were anchored. On the ship (the 386) I was given swell quarters — a bunk with an inner spring mattresses — a lower, with no room-mate at the time. The room had a desk, a shelf, hangers, and what was more important, a fan. It was luxury itself. I had nothing to do on the ship except get acquainted with the Pharmacist Mate and the supplies that were already on board, and get acquainted with the officers and men. Carl, Bernie and Al Querhammer made themselves acquainted and settled in the crew’s quarters. They had canvas three-decker bunks on the “troop compartment” deck, where it got awfully hot during the daytime but wasn’t so awful at night.

            As soon as we got aboard, the difference in food was noted. It was good food well prepared and we had swell fresh bread that was made right on the ship. One day we even had chocolate ice-cream which, though flaky, was cold and most welcome. We had lemonade, iced, as often as we wanted it and on one occasion one of the colored mess attendants even brought a glass full of the lemonade out to Q and me while we were standing out by the rail.

            As our ship was scheduled to carry pontoons, the load of vehicles that we had on the top deck already had to come off, and as a consequence we were in at the dock considerably more often during the next week than were the other ships. I naturally spent some of that time with Roy and the rest, but on the 2nd that gang up and left and went to Tunis where they were to get on the LSTs that had been assigned to them. That left Eddie and myself as the only 59ers up at Bizerte. I saw Eddie a couple of times, but as his ship was out on the Lake most of the time, we didn’t have much of an opportunity to really get together.

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Watch for my next letter on
June 29

While René was given “swell quarters,” with no roommate, the enlisted men were on the “troop compartment” deck with “three-decker bunks.”