Aug. 28, Monday. Up at 5:50. At 7:00 I go on K.P. for the day. 2:20 P.M. now. Worked pretty steady till about 1:00 carrying water or supplies, waiting on tables and washing dishes. For breakfast we had bread, jam and oatmeal with a little milk. No raids today till about 2:00. No sirens blew but in distance it sounded like flak or bombs falling. Situation seems pretty good - Germans on the run. Russians closing in. Bulgaria is now out of the war. Today we were reorganized on a military basis - squadrons etc. Sure hope it isn't long till we leave here so I can know for sure all is well at home. Today is a beautiful sunny summer afternoon. It would certainly be easy to imagine yourself back home having a good time on afternoon like this. This country is very similar to Kansas and Nebraska - almost identical. Slept a couple hrs. in the afternoon then went to chow we had, bread, butter, cheese, sandwich meat hot cocoa and a half a bar of chocolate. For the first time in several days I really felt full. That must be because my stomach has shrunk since we get only 2 meals per day and that would hardly fill one up. Tonight you can no longer see the glow in the sky from the fires. All is quite calm and peaceful. Faces no longer have that wild eyed expression. We have no electricity and consequently no lights here as the Germans have left a booby trap in our generator here. They're going to try to remove it today. Then we'll have light and water. Went to bed at 8:00 as everything is dark and nothing to do.
Aug. 29, Tuesday. Up at 6:15 - beautiful morning. Hard to wash as everyone standing around pump. Oh for a hot bath or shower where you can take your time. No news except everything going well. Shaved in can with 1 cup of cold water and no mirror. Amazing what you can do if you have to. First shave since Aug. 22 -longest I've gone in army without shaving. Had good breakfast - spam and eggs - very small portion, coffee, bread, and butter. Over here bread certainly is the backbone of your meal. You can still hear the big guns up at the front. 3:50. Quiet all day. 8 unidentified planes just passed over -look like A-20s, probably Russian. Russians reported in Bucharest now. American flag flies here now with Romanian. Just waited in line for 2 hrs. for a big bucket to wash in. Took sponge bath - first time I've washed more than hands and face since Aug. 22 - and haven't washed them very often. Certainly feels fine. Now that these planes are flying overhead many have headed for shelters. Boy what a meal! Only trouble was everything was too hot. We had bread, butter, tomato, hot chocolate, hot vegetable soup and watermelon which even I liked. After dinner had another piece of melon. About 9:00 P.M. finally went to bed. About 11:00 3 of the Russians came in drunk and slept on our floor. Soon one of them started the most ungodly snoring - all types and volumes. Some of the comments - Step on his head - stuff a cloth in his mouth - Hit him on the head - Wonder if he'd smother if we put a blanket over his head. Finally they woke him up and tried to explain in bits of Russian what the trouble was. Then they woke up one of his friends who understood Eng. He finally woke him up and all 3 left very indignantly about the whole matter.
Aug. 30, Wed. - Up at 6:30 - At formation we were told 2 B- 17's had landed here yesterday with a Col. and his staff whose job it was to get us out of here. Tomorrow we will be evacuated by B-17's and eat dinner in Italy!!! You can imagine how excited everyone is. Also today they gave us all 5000 lei and 4 packs of cigarettes. That's more money than most of us have ever had over here. It's quite a bit but of course there's nothing to spend for now. Picked up a few little souvenirs. Everyone excited about going home. Dinner was salmon, watermelon, bread, cheese, and cold chocolate. Stayed up and talked till quite late as was too excited to go to bed and sleep.
Aug. 31, Thursday. Up at 4:15 A.M. Trucks waiting for us buses. Rode thru edge of town. It seemed to be market day as everyone was coming into town in their carts. At the airport we had quite a time to wait and so got around and saw a little. The field was a cadet school and we talked with quite a few of them. Some of us even got into a game of volleyball with them. These student pilots who had been training to help knock us out of the air were really pretty nice fellows. Got to look over a couple of their training planes - one a FW-58 was much like an AT-l0. Finally the B-17's came proceeded by P-51's. Believe me they really looked wonderful. It's a wonder to me how those 17's could take off and land on that tiny bumpy field. I don't believe a 24 could have done it. Altho I was nervous the ride back was uneventful- close formation, wonderful fighter cover. We arrived in Bari about 1:30 and were greeted by all kinds of high officers including Gen. Twining of the 15th Air Force. From the field we came here to the replacement pool where we were deloused and given a complete summer uniform. (note 2)
[ Transcriber note: The typed version generally follows the original hand written diary, using original language, grammar, punctuation and abbreviations, except that "&" in the original was usually changed to "and" in the transcript. Other added words are in [brackets]. ]
note 2 - Tom kept a diary of his time in the service. When he returned to Bari, Italy, on Sept. 1, 1944, it was taken from him by the air corps. Ten years later it was returned to him. As a POW he was not allowed to keep a diary.