Pittsburgh officer with famed Navy outfit
By Ernie Pyle
Ernie Pyle has arrived in North Africa to write a new series about U.S. troops abroad. This, the first, tells how the soldiers lived when they arrived in the new battle zone.
With U.S. forces in Algiers, Algeria – (Dec. 1, by wireless)
From now onward, stretching for months and months into the future, life is completely changed for thousands of American boys on this side of the earth. For at last they are in there fighting.
The jump from camp life into frontline living is just as great as the original jump from civilian life into the Army. Only those who served in the last war can conceive of the makeshift, deadly urgent, always-moving-onward complexion of frontline existence. And existence is exactly the word: it is nothing more.
The last of the comforts are gone. From now on, you sleep in bedrolls under little tents. You wash whenever and wherever you can. You carry your food on your back when you are fighting.
You dig ditches for protection from bullets and from the chill north wind off the Mediterranean. There are no more hot-water taps. There are no post exchanges where you can buy cigarettes. There are no movies.
When you speak to a civilian, you have to wrestle with a foreign language. You carry enough clothing to cover you, and no more. You don’t lug any knickknacks at all.
When our troops made their first landings in North Africa, they went four days without even blankets, just catching a few hours’ sleep on the ground.
Clothes for generations to come
Everybody either lost or chucked aside some of his equipment. Like most troops going into battle for the first time, they all carried too much at first. Gradually they shed it. The boys tossed out personal gear from their musette bags and filled them with ammunition. The countryside for 20 miles around Oran was strewn with overcoats, field jackets and mess kits as the soldiers moved on the city.
Arabs will be going around for a whole generation clad in odd pieces of American Army uniforms.
At the moment, our troops are bivouacked for miles around each of three large centers of occupation – Casablanca, Oran and Algiers. They are consolidating, fitting in replacements, making repairs – spending a few days taking a deep breath before moving on to other theaters of action.
They are camped in every conceivable way. In the city of Oran, some are billeted in office buildings, hotels and garages. Some are camping in parks and big vacant lots on the edge of town. Some are miles away, out in the country, living on treeless stretches of prairie. They are in tiny groups and in huge batches.
Some of the officers live in tents and sleep on the ground. Others have been lucky enough to commandeer a farmhouse or a barn, sometimes even a modern villa.
The tent camps look odd. The little low tents hold two men apiece and stretch as far as you can see.
There are Negro camps as well as white.
You see men washing mess kits and clothing in five-gallon gasoline cans, heated over an open fire made from sticks and pieces of packing cases. They strip naked and take sponge baths in the heat of the day. In the quick cold of night, they cuddle up in their bedrolls.
The American soldier is quick in adapting himself to a new mode of living. Outfits which have been here only three days have dug vast networks of ditches three feet deep in the bare brown earth. They have rigged up a light here and there with a storage battery. They have gathered boards and made floors and sideboards for their tents to keep out the wind and sand.
In the evening by the moonlight
They have hung out their washing, and painted their names over the tent flaps. You even see a soldier sitting on his “front step” of an evening playing a violin.
Even in this short waiting period, life is far from static. Motor convoys roar along the highways. Everything is on a basis of “not a minute to spare.” There is a new spirit among the troops – a spirit of haste.
Planes pass constantly, eastbound. New detachments of troops wait for orders to move on. Old detachments tell you the stories of their first battle, and conjecture about the next one. People you’ve only recently met hand you slips of paper with their home addresses and say:
You know, in case something happens, would you mind writing…
At last, we are in it up to our necks, and everything is changed, even your outlook on life.
Swinging first and swinging to kill is all that matters now.
The town as a whole has been turned back to the French, but the Army keeps a hand raised and there will be no miscues.
‘Victory girl’ title is not complimentary; daughters too can be war casualties
By Ruth Millett
Pouches make way for plane passengers
By Fred W. Perkins, Press Washington correspondent
Herodotus, about 550 BC:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
This, the slogan of the Postal Service, has been made to apply to every obstacle that might discredit a companion motto, “The mails must go through.” It is not true today.
Herodotus had never heard of Hitler or Hirohito.
A high official of the Post Office Department today confirmed reports that sacks of airmail are frequently thrown off mail planes to make way for priority passengers.
This official said:
It has happened many times. And undoubtedly it will happen again so long as winning the war is the first consideration.
Mail frequently late
This helps to explain why regular patrons of the airmail service, such as banks and newspapers, are getting frequent reports that their mail is delivered later than it was expected – and in many cases, so late that its usefulness has been lost.
The mail thrown off a plane may wait in the air terminal for the next plane, subject to another possible delay. Or it may be put on a train.
Changing to train mail frequently means more trouble because when mail sacks are thrown off airplanes, this occurs at airports – usually miles from main post offices and central railroad stations.
The Post Office Department’s explanation to airmail patrons is short and conclusive – that the War Department’s control of domestic airplane service is practically complete. In the case of international air traffic, it is absolute.
Other troubles cited
Much of the trouble with airmail has been experienced with letters mailed out of or into Washington, which is a center of airplane travel, much of it holding war priority.
This is only one of the troubles now confronting the Post Office Department, which has pointed out that 25,000 of its experienced workers have been taken by the armed services, and that replacements are hard to get and inexperienced.
In past Christmas seasons, about 2,500 delivery trucks have been borrowed from the Army and about 10,000 from private owners. This year, the Army needs its own trucks and private owners want to save their tires.
Wait a min, why are they building a battleship? Should the sinking of the Bismarck, Prince of Wales (and Repulse?) should have proven that the age of Battleships is over and carriers are the new hot thing. So shouldn’t they be building a carrier?
It was still somewhat under debate, at least here in the U.S. News articles from half a year ago had spoken of said debates.
Also, they do build carriers. In fact, the Belleau Wood (CV-24) will be launched on the 6th!
So the total count of carriers will be 3 in the Pacific theater?
Try 14-16 carriers in the entire Navy (of which two will be launched in a few days in addition to a few more being commissioned, with even more laid down). Not all of those carriers are in the Pacific; a few are barely a few months old now (counting from launch date).
Well the nips are screwed
U.S. Navy Department (December 3, 1942)
The following U.S. naval transports were lost during the early part of November as a result of enemy submarine torpedoes during the occupation of North Africa by U.S. forces:
Three other U.S. transports, one U.S. destroyer, and one U.S. tanker were damaged during the operation.
The next of kin of personnel killed, wounded, or missing are being notified by telegram as soon as information is received.
On December 1:
Army and Navy aircraft continued daylight attacks on enemy positions on Guadalcanal Island.
On December 2:
U.S. Marines attacked a patrol of 60 Japanese near the upper Lunga River. Thirty-five of the enemy were killed and a quantity of arms and ammunition was captured.
In another encounter between U.S. and enemy patrols in the Matanikau area, 20 Japanese were killed.
On the night of November 30-December 1, a Japanese force of troop transports, escorted by combatant fleet units, was intercepted and engaged by a task force of U.S. naval vessels in the waters immediately north of Guadalcanal Island.
The enemy was interrupted in his attempt to reinforce and supply his troops on the island and no landing was effected.
During the night action which followed our interception of the landing force, one U.S. cruiser was sunk and other U.S. vessels were damaged.
The enemy suffered the following losses during the engagement:
Japanese sailors rescued from life rafts on the following day identified one of the enemy destroyers as the Takanami.
No list of casualties has, as yet, been received. The next of kin of personnel killed, wounded, or missing in the above action will be notified by telegram as soon as information is received.
The Pittsburgh Press (December 3, 1942)
Casualties ‘very small,’ Navy says; five other ships damaged
Nazis claim key point near Tunis retaken; Royal Navy blasts foe
By Edward W. Beattie, United Press staff writer
Tokyo admits guerilla army is growing
By the United Press
Dispatches from enemy countries are based on broadcasts over controlled radio stations and frequently contain false information for propaganda purposes.
Tokyo, Japan (UP) –
Imperial Japanese Headquarters said today that a Japanese destroyer flotilla sank an Allied battleship, a heavy cruiser of the Augusta (U.S.) class and two destroyers off Lunga near Guadalcanal Island the night of Nov. 30.
One Japanese destroyer was lost.
Bonuses permitted only if they been paid in previous years