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Follies of a Navy Chaplain

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Tanks for the Memories

2014, Aaron Elson


He Did, She Did

Dan Diel

    2014, Aaron Elson

    Sergeant Dan Diel was wounded in Normandy on July 3, 1944. After spending some time in a rehabilitation hospital in England, he rejoined the 712th Tank Battalion and received a battlefield commission.

    The best thing that could happen in the Army was to be stuck in a rehabilitation ward in a general hospital in England. That was the best way to fight a war that there was.

    I was the assistant rehabilitation officer there. The officer that had charge of the rehabilitation ward was a guy by the name of Lieutenant Kanicki. And he felt that the best way to get the men rehabilitated was to keep them happy, give ’em passes and get ’em out. They had to be back to do their rehabilitation, but he said, "I haven’t got time to do all that. You can write passes. You can sign my name as good as I can."

    I said, "Yes, Sir." And I and another guy took a handful of passes and stuck ’em in our pocket and went up to Liverpool. Hell, they had Lieutenant Kanicki’s name signed on them. We were dating them every day just like he told us, and he knew it, he didn't give a damn.

    There were no facilities – I was in the 10th General Hospital, and there were no facilities in there for women patients. So all the women – nurses and Red Cross girls and Wacs – were treated in another general hospital that was several miles from there. And one day, the head nurse that was on that ward that I had been in wanted to go over and visit one of the nurses over there. She wanted to know if I would go over with her.

    I said, "Sure, I'll go with you." We had to get a cab. You couldn’t take a GI vehicle and go over there. So I said, "You know, this is a kind of an awkward thing, for a GI to go and get permission," you had to have special permission to get into a female ward in a hospital.

    We went in there, and I swear that half of them that were in there were pregnant and were just waiting to get shipped back to the States. Some of them were on purpose and some of them were accidental, but some of them got pissed off at the way they were being treated over there, they didn't like the life, and it was simple: You get pregnant, you get shipped home.

    And there was this one gal, she was just having a snit because she was married and I don’t remember what line of work her husband was in but he said that he’d join the Army and get a commission and go overseas. She was a nurse and she said, "And I’ll get a commission and follow you." And he said, "If you do, I’ll get you pregnant and send you home." And he did and she did and he did and she did. He went to England. She followed him. And the first three-day pass she got, she’s pregnant and he sent her home.

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