3/3/1943 Embarkation, Convoy to North Africa

65 years ago tomorrow, my father left Fort Devens Ma for FT Dix NJ and the staging area for

the troopship to Casablanca. Of all his letters, these are the ones that really got to me & allowed me to understand who he was. My father was always strong, responsible, & never afraid - a better son, brother, husband, or father you couldn't find. It was just a small "P.S."

written in the paper margin that made me see for the first time in my life that he HAD been afraid: "There are 1,000s of fellows here so - you see Ma, I won't be alone". That one line caused me to "see" my father for the first time, the man that never showed fear, never asked for anything, and never complained. That one sentence made me look back over his life and see the son that went every single day to the nursing home to shave & bathe his paralyzed father, who - when his mother had Alzheimers went daily to see her, who worked 3 jobs

to support his family, who - in addition to all his own household chores, went to his sister's

and mowed the grass & fixed whatever needed fixing. I looked back & realized that I had not appreciated him & wept.


To me, this is what it's all about - that we don't just rattle off the names of places: Anzio,

St Die, Iwo Jima, Cassino, that instead we really "see" all those guys that were there. Regular guys & yet there was nothing "regular" about them. I've heard it said that there "is no time with God" and I hope that is true because I'd like to make up for not apprecating him enough & stand next to him when he wrote that sentence & say: "I'm here with you Dad".


Fort Devens February 21, 1943


Hi Ma! Well, we are all packed & our bags have already gone. As far as I know, we'll probably move out Wednesday night to Ft Dix NJ. It was a wonderful day here - like Spring. There've been no passes since thursday night, so you see I was lucky to get home when I did.


I talked to Pa on the phone last night & he said you & Mary had gone to the store, How is the incision? It's nice that he got the operation over with now that the good weather is coming.


This has been the first saturday I've spent here & it's mobbed! I guess they must've brought in an awful lot of recruits this weekend.


Well, I must say goodbye for now & don't worry about me - everything will turn out alright. It's better to be going with the outfit. I'll write when we get to our new station.


Love, Francis


February 28, 1943 Corporal F Howard 206th M. P. (on American Legion stationary)


Dear Ma, This has been a very busy week. Since we arrived, we've been working day & night. I guess this will be the last uncensored letter you'll receive from me as we are about to move. Well Ma, I hope Pa is getting along alright. I was lucky to get home when I did as there weren't any more passes issued since that time. As I told you, we will probably leave in a day

or so. Our things, "B" bay(?) is already on the boat and tonight the advance detail has gone. I'm very glad to be going with the outfit seeing the way things were. Just remember Ma that everything will be "ok". Tell Mary not to worry about anything either. I'll write to you again whenever I can or wherever it is. Love, Francis

My address: 206th MP Co APO3658 c/o postmaster ny ny

p.s. (in the margin) there are thousands of fellows here, so you see I won't be alone.

P.s. (on 2nd page) I've made out an allotment starting this coming month so you should receive a check each month in the mail. You see Ma, I have plenty of money and won't need any.


March 1, 1943 CPL F. Howard 206th MP Co postmarh Trenton NJ


dear Ma, Just a line to let you know that everything is ok & I'm feeling fine. How is Pa? I hope he'sgetting better. It's good that the warm weather's almost here. You have my new address

& i hope to hear from you soon. Love, Francis


March 3, 1943 postmarked Grand Central Annex


Dear Ma, Just thought I'd drop a line as I had a few minutes to spare. You probably received my wire from Western Union. I have plenty of money, so I figured I didn't need the $30. Also the allotment which you probably won't get for 2 months as it takes some time to get it straightened out. Well, that's all I can say for now, but just keep writing. I haven't received any mail yet, probably it's held up somewher along the line. Love, Francis.


My father left NY on that day 3/3/1943 on the John Ericcson in Convoy USG6 which carried several thousand army personnel, nurses, and 100 Navy personnel bound for Casablanca.


More on embarkation port of NY and Convoys in another post. March 1943 saw the peak day in the history of the port of NY with 600 individual anchorages. There were 543 Merchant ships at anchor, close to maximum capacity. Just imagine all the enormous work that went into getting our troops, supplies, and material to war!




Your words brought tears to my eyes. Sure puts things into a different light/perspective. :(


I love reading his journal entries. I can already hear some of them interspersed within my project. Real men behind words, not just words from a dried and sober history book.


The numbers regarding the port in March 1943, are astounding. My father left for North Africa a bit later that same spring. I do not know what ship he sailed on. Wish I did.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

Thanks Marion! My Dad would've felt so honored to be included in your project! How true it is about the words making it real. History does begin to actually live - when you can look out through their eyes & hear them speak. Writing out my Dad's letters has helped me even more to do that.


All the words & photos of all the Dads, brothers, and sons - help us all to realize that they weren't just names - that they loved & breathed & laughed & cried. They have ALOT to teach us and thanks :armata_PDT_37: to YOU Marion - they are still teaching & WE are still learning!


Boy, my Dad sure would've been AMAZED to know that 65 years later - people would be reading his words! OUr Dads are probably yukking it up right now in Paradise! :drinkin:-o-






OUr Dads are probably yukking it up right now in Paradise!
Indeed! I know many of the vets write to me and are thrilled to see names, places and faces on our site. I am delighted to be part of it all, and helping them live on.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

After reading all of the above. If my "memory", serves me right I think I

was in that same convoy. I don't know what troopship I was on but it was

all men. and our ship landed in Oran, No. Africa. 14 days at sea. Was in

Oran two or three days then someof us were sent to where the 34th

Divn. was. as replacements. (combat infantry.). I do remember arriving

in No. Africa in the middle of March. 64 years ago today we were at

Cassino. The media was focused in the Pacific then. Every day I give

thanks to the LORD for bringing me back.

May1-5 reunion of ANZIO Beachead veterans in St. Louis Mo. Just a

3 1/2 hr. drive !!! Roque,(Rocky)


Wow Rocky! Wouldn't it be something if you & my Dad were in the same convoy going to North Africa. He was in Casablanca for awhile, then in Rabat & Siddi Bel Abbis & then to Oran for the Salerno invasion.


I'll be posting info on this March 3rd 1943 Convoy that you might find interesting.


64 years ago in Cassino...

BTW - I bet there's a whole lot of people who thank the Lord for bringing you back & WE

do too!! :clappin:


It's great that you won't have far to travel to the Anzio Beachhead Veterans Reunion.

Boy, I wish my Dad could've attended one of the Anzio reunions. I think it would've been such a great help to him to get to talk with other vets who'd actually been there. That would've meant a great deal to him.


mary ann


Sidi Bel Abis is where I joined the 34th. I honestly don't remember

seeing any MPs'. Then to Oran for"amfibious training",,All we did

was go out on LSIs' and got sick from all the waves and the

sailors just laughing at us, but they had a LOT OF P---k to clean up.



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