Roving Reporter, Ernie Pyle

The Pittsburgh Press (August 18, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
We had many kinds of human beings among the wounded in our clearing-station tent during the time I spent there.

We had a couple of slightly wounded Puerto Ricans, one of whom still carried his guitar and sat up on his stretcher and strummed on it ever so lightly. There were full-blooded Indians, and Negroes, and New York Italians, and plain American ranch hands, and Spanish-Americans from down Mexico way.

There were local Sicilians who had been hit by trucks. There was a captured Italian soldier who said his own officers had shot him in the face for refusing to attack. There were two American aviators who had been fished out of the sea. There were some of our own medics who had been wounded as they worked under shellfire.

There was one German soldier who had been shot apparently while trying to escape to Italy in a small boat. He was young, thin and scared to death. He objected furiously to being given a shot of morphine, apparently thinking we were torturing him. Then when he discovered he was being treated exactly like everybody else, his amazement grew. You could see bewilderment and gratitude in his face when the ward-boys brought him water and then food. And when, finally, the chaplain, making his morning rounds, gave him cigarettes, candy, toothpowder and soap, the same as all the rest, he sat up grinning and played with them as if he were a child on Christmas morning.

It took him five minutes to find out how to get the cellophane wrapper off his pack of cigarettes, and our whole tent stopped to watch in amusement.

Overboard for blood plasma

Some of the wounded were sick at the stomach. One tough-looking New York Italian, faint with malaria, tried to crawl outside the tent to be sick but passed out cold on the way. He was lying there on the ground in his drawers, yellow as death, when we noticed him. They carried him back, and 10 minutes later, he was all over his sudden attack and as chipper as anybody.

Some were as hungry as bears. Others couldn’t eat a bite. One fellow, with his shattered arm sticking up at right angles in its metal rack, gobbled chicken-noodle soup that a ward-boy fed him while the doctor punched and probed at his other arm to insert the big needle that feeds blood plasma.

And while we are on the subject of plasma, the doctors asked me at least a dozen times to write about plasma. They said:

Write lots about it, go clear overboard for it, say that plasma is the outstanding medical discovery of the war.

So, I beg you folks back home to give and keep on giving your blood. We’ve got plenty on hand here now, but if we ever run into mass casualties such as they have on the Russian front, we will need untold amounts of it.

They say plasma is absolutely magical. They say scores of thousands who died in the last war could have been saved by it. Thousands have already been saved by it in this war.

They cite case after case where a wounded man was all but dead and, within a few minutes after a plasma injection, would be sitting up and talking, with all the life and color back in his face.

The doctors asked me to repeat what you have been told so many times already – that it doesn’t make any difference what type your blood is, and that the normal person has no ill or weakening effects from giving his blood.

Doctors work ghastly hours

A frontline clearing station is made up of doctors and men who were ordinary, normal people back home. But here they live a rough-and-tumble life. They sleep on the ground, work ghastly hours, are sometimes under fire, and handle a flow of wounded that would sicken and dishearten a person less immune to it.

They’ll get little glory back home when it’s all over, but they have some recompense right here in the gratitude of the men they treat. Time and again as I lay in my tent, I heard wounded soldiers discussing among themselves the wonderful treatment they had had at the hands of the medics.

I have written already about some of the enlisted men of this clearing station, so before finishing, I’ll give you the doctors’ names. This is one of the few clearing stations that are a part of the 45th Division.

The station commandant is Capt. Carl Carrico of 2408 Reba Drive, Houston, Texas. His wife and eight-year-old boy are in Houston. He is a slow, friendly man, speckled all over with big red freckles, who takes his turn at surgery along with the others. He usually works in coveralls.

The other surgeons are Capt. Carson Oglesbee of Muskogee, Oklahoma; Capt. Leander Powers of Savannah, Georgia; Capt. William Dugan of Hamburg, New York, and Lt. Michael de Giorgio of New York.

The station’s medical doctor is Capt. Joe Doran of Iowa City. The dentist is Capt. Leonard Cheek of Ada, Oklahoma. And the chaplain is Lt. Arthur Mahr, formerly of the First United Lutheran Church, Indianapolis. Other chaplains of the division are frequently around inquiring for men of their outfits or giving last rites.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 19, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

This is the first of a series of articles on the general who has been in the frontlines leading the American charge across Sicily.

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
As all of you who have followed this column know, we have kept our pen pointed mainly at the common soldier – the well-known G.I. – for lo, these many months, and let the exalted high command shift for itself. But now for the next few days, we are going to reverse things and write about an American general.

This is because he is pretty important, but not very well known to the public, and because I thought you might feel a little better if you knew what kind of man was in direct charge of your boys who have been doing the fighting in Sicily.

The man I speak of is Lt. Gen. Omar Nelson Bradley, who is the head of a corps of the U.S. Army.

Gen. Bradley is what you might call third in the American command over here. Gen. Eisenhower is at the top of everything. Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. is the head man for our forces in Sicily. And Lt. Gen. Bradley commands the corps which has been making the main effort.

Gen. Bradley has been written about very little, and would continue to be written about very little if he had his way. He is innately modesty and humble and, on top of that, he knows that too much publicity can sometimes wreck a man’s career. But he also realizes that when a soldier is in such a position as his, he more or less becomes public property. So, he has consented graciously to my doing this series about him.

I make no bones about the fact that I am a tremendous admirer of Gen. Bradley. I don’t believe I have ever known a person to be so unanimously loved and respected by the men around and under him. In writing of him, it would be easy to slip into embarrassing overpraise, so I will try deliberately to avoid that.

Gen. Bradley came to Africa in mid-February and joined the frontline troops at Gafsa in central Tunisia, during the bitter fighting at El Guettar. He was deputy corps commander then, under Gen. Patton.

After El Guettar, Gen. Patton was called back to work on the preparations for the Sicilian invasion, and Gen. Bradley was put in command of a corps for the final great phase of our fight in northern Tunisia.

He handled that campaign so well that after it was over, he was promoted to lieutenant general, given a Distinguished Service Medal, and decorated twice by the French. He has continued to command a corps through the Sicilian campaign, and again he has handled it with distinction. Nobody knows what lies ahead for him, but we who have seen him work cannot believe that his path leads anywhere but upward.

When Gen. Bradley first showed up at Gafsa, he hardly said a word for two weeks. He just worked around, absorbing everything and getting acquainted, telling everybody to keep on doing his job just as he had been doing. In fact, he hasn’t said very much right up to this moment. Yet, after a few weeks, his influence began to be felt, and gradually, before anyone was hardly aware of it, he had this corps in the palm of his hand, and every man in it would now go to hell and back for him.

One day a colonel stopped me under a tree and said this about the general:

He has the greatness of simplicity and the simplicity of greatness.

A second lieutenant friend of mine who has served with the Canadians and twice been decorated for bravery told me this:

He is the finest officer, without exception, that I have ever served under.

And now and then you’ll hear a correspondent remark something like this:

Say, that Bradley is my man. I think he’s an old fox.

They always say it as if they were startled and quite pleased by their own sagacity at suddenly having discovered it.

But Gen. Bradley isn’t an old fox at all. He is too direct to be a fox. If he has two outstanding traits, they are simplicity and honesty. There is no pretense about him, either in method or in personality. He is just what he is, and that happens to be a plain Midwesterner with common sense and common honesty, who has studied and practiced all his adult life for the job he is doing now. And he is doing it in just the same calm way he would play a game of bridge or drive a car to the station.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 20, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Lt. Gen. Omar Nelson Bradley is 50. He is married, and has a daughter who is the apple of his eye.

Mrs. Bradley is living at West Point for the duration, as are the wives of several other generals in this area. Their daughter, Elizabeth, who is 19, will be a senior at Vassar this fall. It’s only 30 miles from Vassar to West Point, so she can be with her mother for weekends.

Each of them writes to the general about three times a week, so on the average, he gets about one letter a day from home. They usually write him V-letters.

He writes back about twice a week, although during hard campaigns, two or three weeks sometimes get by without his having time to write. When he does write, he pecks out the letters on a portable typewriter, using a very proficient two-finger system.

Elizabeth is majoring in French at Vassar, and this summer she had the ecstatic experience of talking to Gen. Henri Giraud in his own language and asking him about her father, whom Giraud had seen just before leaving Africa. Gen. Bradley, incidentally, doesn’t speak any foreign language.

‘Second greatest general’

The whole Bradley family is devout in its esteem for Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army’s Chief of Staff. When Gen. Bradley got his third star, Elizabeth wrote him a letter of congratulations in which she said they knew he was “the greatest general in the world – next to Gen. Marshall.”

Gen. Bradley is a tall man, who seems thin although he weighs 182 pounds. His legs are long and he is a terrific walker. Recently, Hanson Baldwin did a piece about him in The New York Times which Mrs. Bradley wrote her husband was “an excellent piece except he called you medium height, which makes me furious.” Actually, the general is just half an inch under 6 feet, in his socks.

The general is deeply tanned. He is getting bald on top, and the rest of his hair is cut short and speckled with gray. His head flares out above the ears more than the average man’s, giving him a “dome” and an air of erudition. He wears faintly tinted tortoise-rimmed glasses.

It would be toying with the truth to call him handsome, instead of good-looking. His face shows the kindness and calmness that lie behind it.

To me, Gen. Bradley looks like a schoolteacher rather than a soldier. When I told him that, he said I wasn’t so far wrong, because his father was a country schoolteacher and he himself has taught at West Point and other places. His specialty was mathematics.

The general doesn’t smoke at all. He takes his cigarette rations and gives them away. He drinks and swears in great moderation. There is no vulgarity in his speech. Back home, he says, he and Mrs. Bradley probably took one drink a month before supper. Over here, where liquor is hard to get, he drinks hardly ever, but he does pour a dust-cutting libation for visitors who show up at suppertime. He has three bottles of champagne that somebody gave him, and he had been saving them for the capture of Messina.

The general’s voice is high and clear, but he speaks so gently you don’t hear him very far away. His aides say they have never known him to speak harshly to anyone. He can be firm, terribly firm, but he is never gross, nor rude. His quality of “ordinariness” puts people at their ease.

‘Makes you feel like a general’

A quaking candidate for a commission in the officers’ school at Fort Benning, Georgia, was once interviewed by Gen. Bradley, and when the soldier came out, he said:

Why, he made me feel like a general myself.

He is just the opposite of a “smoothie.” His conversation is not brilliant or unusual, but it is packed with sincerity. The general still has the Midwest in his vocabulary – he uses such expressions as “fighting to beat the band” and “a horse of another color.”

Gen. Bradley is a hard man to write about, in a way, just because he is so normal. He has no idiosyncrasies, no superstitions, no hobbies. He doesn’t collect seashells. He doesn’t read Schopenhauer. There is nothing odd or spectacular about him.

He laughs good-naturedly at small things and has an ordinary Midwestern sense of humor. One day at Sidi Nsir, after Gen. Eisenhower had been visiting there, Gen. Bradley walked into the room where his chief of staff was working and said:

Bill, Gen. Eisenhower says you’re out of uniform today.

The chief of staff – a colonel and an old friend of Gen. Bradley’s – was perturbed. He looked at his leggings, his necktie, his shirt – everything seemed all right to him. And then Gen. Bradley said:

No, no, it isn’t your clothes. You’ve got on the wrong insignia.

Whereupon he walked over, unpinned the eagle from the colonel’s shirt collar, and pinned on a star. That was his way of informing his friend he had been promoted to brigadier general.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 21, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
About the only superstition Omar N. Bradley has ever shown was when he was promoted to lieutenant general in June, just after the fall of Tunisia.

He knew his promotion had gone to Congress. He saw it published in the papers, and even received letters of congratulation from Washington – yet he wouldn’t pin on his third star until the official orders were actually in his hand, some weeks later.

Gen. Bradley seldom gets nervous, and he is never excited. Once, here in Sicily, a sniper took a potshot at him as he was riding in a command car, whereupon the general and two enlisted men, armed only with carbines, got out of the car and started looking for the sniper. The sniper beat it, and they couldn’t find him.

On the day we launched our final victorious attack west of Mateur last spring, the general suddenly had nothing to do. He had planned and worked strenuously for weeks to prepare for it; but once it was underway, he could only wait in personal inaction. That day did make him a little nervous, so he called two young captains who were his aides and they started on a long walk. Back in the hills, far away from everything, they stopped and the captains threw rocks into the air while the general cracked them with his rifle. That was what he did while the battle was on.

Gen. Bradley is notoriously good with a rifle. He has a sergeant driver who has been with him for years, and one reason he likes him so much is that the sergeant is a crack shot too.

Baseball, golf, hunting hobbies

In his younger days, Gen. Bradley was very athletic. He was a second-string football man at West Point and a regular on the baseball team. Baseball is his greatest love. He played left field for three years at the Point and back in the States, he never misses a chance to see a big-league game. He still holds the record for the longest baseball throw ever made at West Point. He has forgotten now how far it was, but he says it “gets longer” by legend every year.

He is a good golfer, and in peacetime usually played a couple of times a week. But when war was declared, he gave up golf for the duration.

He and Mrs. Bradley play bridge, and the general is a good poker player. He plays for moderate stakes and keeps a “poker fund” so that any losses can be paid out of that and not affect the family budget.

Hunting stands alongside baseball among his great loves. Back home, he had two bird dogs – Molly and Pete. When he came overseas, he gave Pete to an Army friend and Mrs. Bradley kept Molly. A third dog, named Tip, was 14 years old and died just before he left.

Back in Georgia, when he was commandant at Fort Benning, the general’s usual hunting partners were some of his enlisted men.

Hometown honors him

Gen. Bradley was born in Moberly, Missouri, on Lincoln’s birthday of 1893.

His hometown has recently named its airport after him, and while I was with him, he received a letter from Moberly in an envelope all decorated with printed slogans about the “Dedication of Bradley Field – Home of Lt. Gen. Bradley.” And there was a picture of him on the envelope. Gen. Bradley looked at it and said:

It looks funny to get a letter with your own picture on it, doesn’t it?

Bradley graduated from West Point in 1915. He rose to the temporary rank of major in the last war, but all his service was in the United States. Today he says:

I’ve spent 25 years trying to explain why I wasn’t overseas in the last war, so thank goodness I’ll be spared that this time.

They say that when he got orders to come overseas last winter, he was as happy as a bug. During his long Army career, Bradley served twice on the faculty at West Point, did one three-year hitch in Hawaii, spent many years at command schools preparing for just such a wartime job as he has now, and wound up in 1941 as a brigadier general in command of Fort Benning. There he expanded the Officer Candidate School, which last year turned out 40,000 new Army officers.

In February 1942, he was made a major general and assigned to the command of the 82nd Infantry Division. Later, he commanded the 28th Infantry Division, and he was on that command when ordered to Africa.

His permanent Army rank is that of colonel, and because of the fact that in achieving the wartime rank of lieutenant general, he was passed over many men his senior, he leans over backward not to say or do anything that would make it seem he felt in any way above them.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 23, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Men who work under Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley say he is the fairest man they have ever known. There is absolutely no pretense about him in any way, and he hated ostentation.

He doesn’t fly his three-star flag except when formal occasions compel it. And his aides are full of stories about how he has hung in the background rather than call attention to himself by pushing up where he had a right to be. He doesn’t even own a Sam Browne belt or a dress cap.

Oddly enough, for a man so quiet and modest as he is, he doesn’t mind public speaking. He is no ringing orator, but after you listen to him for a while, his speech becomes powerful by its tone of intense sincerity.

During vital periods of each campaign, the general always comes to our correspondents’ camp and, in front of a big map, gives us a complete fill-in on the situation. When he first did this, we all liked him but weren’t especially impressed. But he grew on us just as he grows on everybody he works with, and today there isn’t a correspondent who doesn’t swear by him.

He isn’t easygoing

Despite his mildness, the general is not what you would call easygoing. Nobody runs over him. He has complete confidence in himself, and once he makes up his mind, nothing sways him. He is as resolute as rock, and people who work with him must produce or get out. They don’t get the traditional Army bawling-out from him, but they get the gate.

He has a nice quality of respecting other people’s opinions and of paying close attention to other people’s conversation. I have noticed that when he makes a phone call he always says “If you please” to the Army operator. And on the road, when an Army truck pulls out to let his three-star jeep pass, he always turns and says “Thank you” to the driver.

When he passes a bunch of engineers toiling and sweating to create a bypass around a blown-up bridge, he calls out, “You’re doing a nice job here,” to the startled lieutenant in charge.

The general rides around the front a great deal. During the campaign in northern Sicily, he averaged five hours a day in his jeep, and sometimes ran it up to eight. He laughs and says jeep riding is good for the liver.

A few times he used planes. He hopes to have a small plane of his own that will land practically anywhere, as it would save him hours each day.

On the front bumper of the general’s jeep is a red-and-white plate displaying three stars, and of course this draws a salute from every officer or soldier who is on his toes. In heavy traffic the general is returning salutes constantly. I told him that what he needed most was a little boy to do his saluting for him. He laughed and said:

Oh, that’s the way I get my exercise.

When he drives through a town the Sicilians all yell and wave, and the general waves back. Italian policemen, discharged soldiers, and even civilians snap up to the salute, and the general always salutes them back. Once in a while they give him the Fascist salute, out of old habit, and he returns that too, but in the American way.

He doesn’t affect a swagger stick, but he does sometimes carry an ordinary wooden cane with a steel spike in the end. It was given to him by former Congressman Faddis of Pennsylvania.

Hates to order bombing of city

Almost every day he visits the headquarters of each division that is in the lines. He says he could do the work by telephone, but by going in person he can talk things over with the whole division staff, and if they are planning something he doesn’t think is good, he can talk them around to seeing it his way, rather than just flatly ordering it done.

I stood with him one day on a high observation post looking ahead at a town where we were having very tough going. The Germans simply wouldn’t crack (They did later, of course). All of our officers, including the general, were worried. He said:

We’ve put enough pressure on already to break this situation, but still they hang on, so we’ll have to figure out some other way. Some commanders believe in the theory of direct attack, accepting a 30% loss of men and getting to your objective quickly, but I’ve tried to figure a plan for this to save as many lives as possible.

I said to him:

I never could be a general. I couldn’t stand up under the responsibility of making a decision that would take human lives.

And he said:

Well, you don’t sleep any too well from it. But we’re in it now, and we can’t get out without some loss of life. I hate like the devil to order the bombing of a city, and yet it sometimes has to be done.

In speaking of being bombed and of enduring the sadness of our own casualties, he said:

It’s really harder on some of the newer officers than it is on me. For although I don’t like it, after all I’ve spent 30 years preparing a frame of mind for accepting such a thing.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 24, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Gen. Bradley has around him at the front, in addition to his military staff of more than a hundred officers, a little official “family” and it really is like a little family.

It consists of his two young captain aides, his sergeant driver, his corporal orderly, and his brigadier general chief of staff, whom I’m not permitted to name.

The two aides are Capt. Chester Hansen of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Capt. Lewis Bridge of Lodi, California. Both are 25, both graduated from college in 1939, Hansen from Syracuse University and Bridge from California Aggies. Their nicknames are Chet and Lew and that’s what the general calls them.

Both captains went through Officers’ Training School at Fort Benning when Gen. Bradley was commanding there and both came right out of the officers’ school into his family. They’ve been with him for 16 months and consider themselves the two most fortunate young officers in the American Army. They sleep in cots under a tree about 50 yards from the general’s truck, which is also parked under a tree since the general has an aversion to occupying buildings and usually keeps a command post in tents out in the open.

He drives just right

Around headquarters the two aides are on call constantly, but for jeep traveling with the general they take alternate days. Both are bright, understanding, likable fellows who worship at the general’s feet and do a good job representing him, in the same thoughtful manner he uses.

The general’s driver is Sgt. Alex Stout, of Port Barre, Louisiana, below Baton Rouge. Although he is only 23, he has been in the Army six years. He doesn’t, however, intend to make it a career. Recently, his grandmothers died and left him a fertile 275-acre farm and when the war is over, he is going back to farm it himself.

Sgt. Stout was married last Christmas Day. His wife is waiting back in Louisiana. He has a brother Noah who is a captain in the Army in Australia. Sgt. Stout has been driving for Gen. Bradley for two and a half years. He is so good that when the general reached North Africa, he sent back to the States for him.

Sgt. Stout takes meticulous pride in the general’s jeep. He has it fixed up with sponge-rubber cushions, and a built-in ration box under the back seat, and keeps it neat as a pin.

Gen. Bradley says having a good driver is important, for he relaxes while he’s riding and he can’t have a driver who annoys him by going too slow or one who keeps him tense by reckless driving. One night last winter, the general had a blackout driver who was so cautious and creepy he had to take the wheel himself and drive half the night.

An orderly orderly

Sgt. Stout is another devoted fan of the general’s. The sergeant says:

He does everything for you. I go to him with my headaches, go to him for advice, go to him for money. He treats me just like my own father does.

The general’s orderly is Cpl. Frank Cekada of Calumet, Michigan. Frank is the newest one of the general’s family, having been with him only since last March.

Frank says a colonel in Oran picked him for the job because he always kept himself looking neat and clean. He was driving a truck before he got this assignment. He had never been an orderly before but soon caught on. Frank’s duties are, as he puts it, “to keep the general happy.” He cleans the quarters, looks after the luggage while moving, and whenever he can’t find Sicilian women to do the general’s washing, Frank does it himself.

Frank is 24, and before the war was, of all things, a bartender. He says the general treats him like a personal friend and he hopes nothing happens to this job.

Gen. Bradley lives in an Army truck which has been fixed up like a tourist trailer. In the front end is a nice wide bed running crosswise of the truck, with a blanket bearing the initials of the U.S. Military Academy. Along one side is a desk with drawers under it. On the other side were a closet and washbasin. A field telephone in a leather case hangs on the end of the desk. There is a big calendar on the wall and each day is marked off with an x. There is a bookrack with four or five columns of military textbooks, one called Our Enemy, Japan, and a French grammar which the general never finds time to study.

On the front wall over the bed are painted the dates of the campaigns in North Africa, with the beginning and ending dates, and the Sicily with the invasion date.

He studies his map

We conjectured on what date the Sicilian campaign would end, and oddly enough the general’s date was a little farther off than mine. There are no pictures in the truck, no gadgets on the tables. The general has not sent home any souvenirs, in fact he has acquired only two for himself. One was a German Luger from Tunisia and the other a lovely Sicilian dagger with the Fascist emblem on the handle. On the wall opposite the table is a big map of this area of Sicily. It probably is the most important piece of equipment in the place.

The general sat there alone at night studying the map for hours, thinking and planning moves for the morrow over the frightful country ahead. There alone before his map many of the most important decisions were made.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 25, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
At one time, in central Sicily, we correspondents were camped in a peach orchard behind the country home of an Italian baron. Apparently, the baron had skedaddled, as nobility is wont to do, before the fighting started. German and Italian troops had been occupying the place before we came.

The baron had built himself a big stone house that was pink and palatial, with a marvelous view over miles of rolling country. It had the usual royal peacocks strutting around but not a bath in the place. The dining room ceiling was hand-painted and the staircase gigantic, yet the royal family used porcelain washbowls and old-fashioned thundermugs. It was the perfect shabby rococo domicile of what H. R. Knickerbocker calls the “wretched aristocracy of Europe.”

While the baron lived in this comparative luxury, his employees lived in sheds and even caves in the big rocky hill just back of the house. They looked like gypsies.

Italians loot the house

When we arrived, the interior of the castle was a wreck. I’ve never seen such a complete shambles. Every room was knee-deep in debris. The enemy had thoroughly looted the place before fleeing. And servants gave us the shameful news that most of the looting and destruction was done by Italian soldiers rather than German.

They’d gone through the house shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer. Expensive dishes were thrown on the tile floor, antique vases shattered, women’s clothes dumped in jumbled heaps, pictures torn down, medicine cabinets dashed against walls, dressers broken up, wine bottles dropped on the floor, their contents turning the trash heap into a gooey mass as it dried.

It was truly the work of beasts. We tiptoed into the place gingerly, suspecting boobytraps, but finally decided it had not been fixed up. Then some of us rummaged around the debris seeing if anything left was worth taking as souvenirs. As far as I have seen, Americans have been good about not looting. Usually, they take only what is left from the Germans’ and Italians’ destruction or what the inhabitants voluntarily give them. All I could salvage were a few pieces of lace from the sewing-room floor.

Then we decided the dining room was the least messy place in the building, so we set to with grass brooms and shovels and water and cleaned it up. Thus, it became our press room. The Signal Corps ran wires from a portable generator to give us light so we could work by night.

One day, I was writing while all the other correspondents were away and a stray soldier peered in after having wandered in astonishment through the jumbled house.

He asked, “What is this place?”

I told him it was the former home of an Italian baron. His next question was so typically American you had to laugh despite a little shame at the average soldiers’ bad grammar and lack of learning.

A menagerie next door

He said:

What is these barons, anyway? Is they something like lords in England?

To avoid a technical discussion, I told him that for all practical purposes they were somewhat along the same line. He went away apparently satisfied.

Our orchard bivouac behind the castle was fine except for one thing. That was the barnyard collection that surrounded us. About an hour before dawn, we were always awakened by the most startling orchestra of weird and ghoulish noises ever put together.

Guinea hens would cackle, ducks would quack, calves bawl, babies cry, men shout, peacocks jabber and turkeys gobble. And to cap it all, a lone donkey at just the right dramatic moment in this hideous cacophony would let loose a long sardonic heehaw that turned your exasperation into outlandish laughter.

The baron’s servants were a poor-looking lot, yet they seemed very nice. Their kids hung around our camp all day, very quiet and meek. They looked at us so hungrily we couldn’t resist giving them cans of food. We tried to teach them to say grazia (thanks, in Italian) but with no success.

One day, some of us correspondents were doing our washing when one of the Sicilian women came up and took it away from us and washed it herself. When she finished, we asked her, “How much?”

They’re not lazy anyway

She said, “Nothing at all.” We said we’d give her some food. She said she didn’t expect any, that she was just doing it for us free, but we gave her some food anyway.

Stories like that are countless. The Army engineers tell me how the Sicilians would come up where they were working, grab shovels and start digging themselves and refuse to take anything for it. Whatever else you can say about them, the Sicilians don’t seem lazy.

One soldier summed it up when he said:

After living nine months with Arabs, the sight of somebody working voluntarily is almost too much for me.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 26, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
The awarding of bravery medals is a rather dry and formal thing and I never heretofore bothered to cover any of these festivities, but the other night, I learned that three old friends of mine were in a group to be decorated, so I went down to have supper with them and see the show.

My three friends are Lt. Col. Harry Goslee, 3008 Neil Ave., Columbus, Ohio; Maj. John Hurley, 66 Rockaway Ave., San Francisco, California, and Maj. Mitchell Mabardy, of Assonet, Massachusetts. Goslee is headquarters commandant of a certain outfit, and Majs. Hurley and Mabardy are provost marshals in charge of military police.

They were camped under big beech trees on the Sicilian hillside just back of the battlefront. I went down about 5:30 and found my friends sitting on folding chairs under a tree outside their tent, looking through field glasses at fighting far ahead.

Any soldier will verify that one of the outstanding traits of war are those incongruous interludes of quiet that pop up now and then in the midst of the worst horror. This evening was one of them. Our troops were in a bitter fight for the town of Troina, standing up like a great rock pinnacle on a hilltop a few miles ahead.

That afternoon, our High Command had called for an all-out air and artillery bombardment of the city. When it came, it was terrific. Planes by the score roared over and dropped their deadly loads, and as they left our artillery put down the most devastating barrage we’ve ever used against a single point, even outdoing any shooting we did in Tunisia.

City seems to fly apart

Up there in Troina a complete holocaust took place. Through our glasses the old city seemed to fly apart. Great clouds of dust and black smoke rose into the sky until the whole horizon was leaded and fogged. Our biggest bombs exploded with such roars that we felt the concussion clear back where we were, and our artillery in a great semi-circle crashed and roared like some gigantic inhuman beast that had broken loose and was out to destroy the world.

Germans by the hundreds were dying up there at the end of our binocular vision, and all over the mountainous horizon the world seemed to be ending. And yet we sat there in easy chairs under a tree sipping cool drinks, relaxed and peaceful at the end of the day’s work. Sitting there looking at it as though we were spectators at a play. It just didn’t seem possible that it could be true. After a while we walked up to the officers’ mess in a big tent under a tree and ate captured German steak which tasted very good indeed.

Then after supper the six men and three officers who were to receive awards lined up outside the tent. They were nine legitimate heroes all right. I know, for I was in the vicinity when they did their deed.

Fire provides target

It was the night before my birthday and the German bombers kept us awake all night with their flares and their bombings, and for a while it looked as though I might never get to be 43 years old. What happened in this special case was that one of our generator motors caught fire during the night and it had to happen at a very inopportune moment. When the next wave of bombers came over, the Germans naturally used the fire as a target.

The three officers and six MPs dashed to the fire to put it out. They stuck right at their work as the Germans dived on them. They stayed while the bombs blasted around them and shrapnel flew. I was sleeping about a quarter of a mile away, and the last stick of bombs almost seemed to blow me out of the bedroll – so you can visualize what those men went through. The nine of them were awarded the Silver Star a few days afterwards.

The nine lined up in a row with Col. Goslee at the end. The commanding general came out of his tent. Col. Goslee called the nine to attention. They stood like ramrods while the citations were read off. There was no audience except myself and two Army Signal Corps photographers taking pictures of the ceremony.

Besides the three officers, the six who received medals were Sgt. Edward Gough, 2252 E 72nd St., Brooklyn, New York; Sgt. Charles Mitchell, 3246 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, New York; Sgt. Homer Moore, of Nicholls, Georgia; Sgt. Earl Sechrist, of Windsor, Pennsylvania; Pfc. Barney Swint, of Douglasville, Texas, and Pfc. Harold Tripp, of Worthington, Minnesota.

Both comical and pathetic

I believe the men went through more torture receiving the awards than in earning them, they were all so tense and scared. It was either comical or pathetic, whichever way it happened to strike you. Col. Goslee stared rigidly ahead in a thunderstruck manner. His left hand hung relaxed, but I noticed his right fist was clamped so tightly his fingers were turning blue.

The men were like uncomfortable stone statues. As the general approached, each man’s Adam’s apple would go up and down two or three times in a throat so constricted I thought he was going to choke.

The moment the last man was congratulated, the general left and the whole group broke up in relief and the men went separate ways.

As a spectacle it was sort of dull, but to each man it was one of those little pinnacles of triumph that will stand out until the day he dies. You often hear soldiers say:

I don’t want any medals. I just want to see the Statue of Liberty again.

But just the same you don’t hear of anybody forgetting to come around, all nervous and shined up fit to kill, on the evening he is to be decorated.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 27, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Yesterday I wrote about going down to see some old friends decorated for bravery. After it was over, we went back to the tent where one of them lives and sat there talking about old times and how good it was to get together again.

One officer had a bottle of champagne he had been saving for some occasion and since this seemed to be at least a good imitation of an occasion he got it out and we passed it around, the half dozen of us drinking it warm and out of the bottle. My palate has never been educated up to champagne and I’d just as soon have had a good swig of Bevo, but after all an event is an event and you can’t let your old friends down.

We sat out under the trees and a chill wind came up and somebody brought me a jacket to slip on. It had lieutenant colonel’s leaves on the shoulders and I suppose I could have been arrested for impersonating an officer, but I was in a nice position, having the head military policeman of the area sitting next to me, so I just flaunted my colonel’s leaves and hoped some stranger would come by to salute me.

Our host was Lt. Col. Goslee, of Columbus, Ohio. He calls himself a professional reserve officer as he has been on active duty for 10 years now. He was with us back in the first days at Oran, then got shunted off to another job and missed the fighting in Tunisia. But this summer he got switched back onto the main track again and lately he’s been making hay fast while the bombs fall.

Daughter asks for Ernie

Back home he has a wife, and a daughter of 15 who keeps writing him, the precious child, asking if he’s seen me. He also has a Dalmatian dog named Colonel who volunteered – or was volunteered – four months ago in the Dogs for Defense Army and is now serving somewhere in Virginia. Col. Goslee’s home flew two service stars in the front window – one for the man and one for the dog.

Dusk came on and we moved inside the tent so we could light our cigarettes. Our conversation drifted back to other days – Oran of last November and bitter cold Tébessa in January and the sadness of our retreat from Sbeitla and the chill sweeping winds of Gafsa and later in the spring the beauties of Béja and the final wonderful feeling of victory at Ferryville.

And we talked of how tired we had all gradually become, and nobody seemed like a hero who’d just been decorated for bravery. We talked of the miles we’ve covered and the moves we’ve made in the last nine months, of countries we’ve seen and how the whole war machine, though it grows dirtier and tireder month after month, also grows mature and smooth and more capable.

Bond with old friends

In this long time all of us over here have met thousands of different soldiers and officers. Yet those of us who became friends right at the very beginning in Africa or even back in England seem to have a bond between us as though we were members of a fraternity or a little family, and when you get back with each other again it’s comfortable and old-shoelike. We talked of people no longer with us – such people as Lt. Gen. Lloyd Fredendall and Maj. Ed Adkins, both on duty back in Memphis now. Ed, in his job as headquarters commandant, used to be a focal point of this little sitting-around group in Tunisia, just as Col. Goslee is in the same job here in Sicily.

Ed Adkins was a favorite and his name came up frequently in our conversation. He was crazy to get back to the States and we knew he’s happy there, and yet we laughed and prophesied that he reads these lines in a Memphis paper – reads how we were still going on and on, still moving every few days, still listening now and then for the uneven groan of the German night bombers, still fighting dust, darkness, and weariness and once in a while sitting around talking after supper, on cots in a blacked-out tent – when he reads about it, and visualizes us, he’s going to be so homesick for the front that he’ll probably cry.

They tell me all the soldiers who have been through the mill and have returned to America are like that. They get an itch for the old miserable life – a disgusting, illogical yearning to be back again in the place they hated. I’m sure it’s true, but I know a lot of soldiers who would like a chance to put that theory to the test.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 28, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
If there were only a little more modernism and sanitation in Sicily, I think a good many of us would sort of like the place.

Actually, most of us feel friendlier toward the Sicilians than we did to the French in North Africa. And, in comparison with the Arabs – well, there just isn’t any comparison.

Nobody can deny that North Sicily is beautiful. It is mountainous, and all but the highest mountains are covered with fields and orchards. Many of the hillsides are terraced to prevent erosion. Everything is very old and, if it were only clean as well, it would be old in a nice, gentle way.

The north coast is a strange contrast to the south. On the south coast, the towns are much filthier and the people seem to be of a lower class. Coming from the south to the north, there is a freshness about the country and the people. The macadam road that follows the sea all the way from Palermo to Messina is a scenic one. I’ve heard a dozen soldiers say:

If you could only travel this road in peacetime, it would be a nice vacation, wouldn’t it?

Army buys Sicilian mules

The interior roads through the mountains are very few, mostly gravel and quite rough. All through the campaign, our troops had to use mules to get supplies up to them in the mountains, and three times during the battle, men went without food and water for as long as 60 hours. How they kept going is beyond me, but I’ve reached the point where nothing the infantry does startles me anymore.

The 3rd Division had more than 500 mules at the end of the campaign. They brought 30 burros with them from Africa, but discovered the burros couldn’t keep up with the infantry, so they had to abandon them for the stronger Sicilian mules. Most of the mules were pretty poor and we lost lots of them both by artillery fire and by plain old exhaustion.

Toward the end of the campaign, the division got so it hauled mules in 2½-ton trucks, right up to the foot of the mountains, so they could start their pack journey all fresh.

The American doughboy’s fundamental honesty shows up sometimes in comical ways. All through the campaign, the various Army headquarters were flooded with Sicilians bearing penciled notes, written on everything from toilet paper to the backs of envelopes saying:

I owe you for one mule taken for the U.S. Army on Aug. 2.


Actually, the appropriating of captured enemy equipment (including mules) for military use is legitimate and no restitution needed to be made, but the doughboys, in their simplicity, never thought of that.

Yanks sport German doodads

Captured supply dumps are impounded by the Army for reissue later but our soldiers often get in to help themselves before the Army gets there officially. For example, at one time practically every soldier you saw was carrying a packet of German bread – thin, brittle stuff that resembles what we call Ry-Krisp at home.

The soldiers seemed to like it or maybe it was just the novelty of the thing. The Germans, as usual, were well-equipped and we are now sporting lots of their doodads. Many of the officers’ outdoor field messes are now served with brand-new German folding tables and the diners sit on individual, unpainted German stools.

You also see quite a few officers sleeping in German steel cots with German mosquito-net framework above them. Speaking of mosquitoes, the summer heat and the lack of sanitation have begun to take their toll. Diarrhea is common, there is a run of the same queer fever I had, and a good many are coming down with malaria. In fact, the correspondents themselves dropped off like flies with malaria in the last weeks of the campaign. Usually, they went to the Army hospital for a few days until the attack passed, and then returned to work.

Our soldiers are very careless about their eating and drinking but you can’t blame them. One of the most touching sights to me is to see a column of sweat-soaked soldiers, hot and tired, march into a village and stop for rest. In a moment, the natives are out by the hundreds carrying water in glass pitchers, in earthen jugs, in pans, in anything, filling the men’s empty canteens. It’s dangerous to drink this water, but when you’re really thirsty, you aren’t too particular.

Ernie recovers on native food

Most of the time over here, I’ve approached native food and drink pretty much like a persnickety peacetime tourist who avoids all fresh vegetables and is very cagey about drinking water, but despite that, I came down with the fever. A couple of days after getting back to normal, I was hit with the “G.I.s,” or Army diarrhea.

Half of our camp had it at the same time. We all took sulfaguanidine, but still mine hung on. Then I moved into the field again with the troops, feeling like death, and getting weaker by the moment. One day we drove into a mountain village where the Americans hadn’t been before and the natives showered us with grapes, figs, wine, hazelnuts and peaches, and I finally said, “Oh, the hell with it,” and started eating everything in sight. And within two days I felt fine again.

MORAL: It worked once, but it’s a bad habit and you better not try it.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 30, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Outside of the occasional peaks of bitter fighting and heavy casualties that highlight military operations, I believe the outstanding trait in any campaign is the terrible weariness that gradually comes over everybody.

Soldiers become exhausted in mind and in soul as well as physically. They acquire a weariness that is mixed up with boredom and lack of all gaiety. To lump them all together, you just get damn sick of it all.

The infantry reaches a stage of exhaustion that is incomprehensible to you folks back home. The men in the 1st Division, for instance, were in the lines 28 days – walking and fighting all that time, day and night.

After a few days of such activity, soldiers pass the point of known human weariness. From then on, they go into a sort of second-wind daze. They keep going largely because the other fellow does and because you can’t really do anything else.

Dazed by weariness

Have you ever in your life worked so hard and so long that you didn’t remember how many days it was since you ate last or didn’t recognize your friends when you saw them? I never have either, but in the 1st Division, during that long, hard fight around Troina, a company runner one day came slogging up to a certain captain and said excitedly:

I’ve got to find Capt. Blank right away. Important message.

The captain said:

But I am Capt. Blank. Don’t you recognize me?

And the runner said, “I’ve got to find Capt. Blank right away.” And he went dashing off. They had to run to catch him.

Men in battle reach that stage and still go on and on. As for the rest of the Army – supply troops, truck drivers, hospital men, engineers – they too become exhausted, but not so inhumanly. With them and with us correspondents, it’s the ceaselessness, the endlessness of everything that finally worms its way through you and gradually starts to devour you.

It’s the perpetual dust choking you, the hard ground wracking your muscles, the snatched food sitting ill on your stomach, the heat and the flies and dirty feet and the constant roar of engines and the perpetual moving and the never settling down and the go, go, go, night and day, and on through the night again. Eventually it all works itself into an emotional tapestry of one dull, dead pattern – yesterday is tomorrow and Troina is Randazzo and when will we ever stop and, God, I’m so tired.

I’ve noticed this feeling has begun to overtake the war correspondents themselves. It is true we don’t fight on and on like the infantry, that we are usually under fire only briefly and that, indeed, we live better than the average soldier. Yet our lives are strangely consuming in that we do live primitively and at the same time must delve into ourselves and do creative writing.

That statement may lay me open to wisecracks, but however it may seem to you, writing is an exhausting and tearing thing. Most of the correspondents actually work like slaves. Especially is this true of the press-association men. A great part of the time they go from dawn till midnight or 2 a.m.

Grimy mentally and physically

I’m sure they turn in as much toil in a week as any newspaperman at home does in two weeks. We travel continuously, move camp every few days, eat out, sleep out, write wherever we can and just never catch up on sleep, rest, cleanliness, or anything else normal.

The result is that all of us who have been with the thing for more than a year have finally grown befogged. We are grimy, mentally as well as physically. We’ve drained our emotions until they cringe from being called out from hiding. We look at bravery and death and battlefield waste and new countries almost as blind men, seeing only faintly and not really wanting to see at all.

Just in the past month, the old-timers among the correspondents have been talking for the first time about wanting to go home for a while. They want a change, something to freshen their outlook. They feel they have lost their perspective by being too close for too long.

I am not writing this to make heroes of the correspondents, because only a few look upon themselves in any dramatic light whatever. I am writing it merely to let you know that correspondents, too, can get sick of war – and deadly tired.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 31, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

NOTE: One of Ernie Pyle’s columns in the recent series on Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley was delayed in transmission and has just been received. It is published herewith.

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
It isn’t customary for anybody as high as a corps commander to get too close to the actual fighting, but Lt. Gen. Omar Nelson Bradley insists on keeping his command post up close, sometimes distressingly close, behind the frontlines.

Recently, he moved into a bivouac from which the artillery was still firing, with the result that he got a good working over by German dive bombers which were after our artillery.

One day we were riding in a jeep through hilly country and, just as we passed a hidden big gun at the roadside, it let off a blast right over our heads. It almost burst our eardrums and practically knocked us out of our seats. The general enjoyed telling for days how we almost got our heads blown off by our own gun.

Another day we were eating lunch at the command post of the 1st Infantry Division, then commanded by Maj. Gen. Terry Allen. It was in a big, old building close to the front, and Gen. Allen had a whole battery of his big guns right alongside the building. They blasted away throughout lunch, and the noise was deafening. They were so close that at every volley the building would shake, the table and dishes jiggle, the glassless window frames would rattle, and you could feel the blast sweep through the room.

After a little of this, Gen. Bradley turned to Gen. Allen and said:

Terry, could you arrange to have those guns shoot over the building instead of through it?

General goes by name of ‘Brad’

Gen. Bradley has a separate mess at his own command post, in a tent a few feet away from the regular mess. He has this separate mess because at almost every meal there are some visiting American or British generals there for discussions, and they need privacy and quiet while they eat. His table seats seven, and at each meal, Gen. Bradley has in one junior member of his staff in as a guest.

Generals as well as privates are human, and Gen. Bradley himself had one session with that famous Army occupational disease known as the “G.I.s” – or Army diarrhea.

On duty, the general is always spoken to as “General” or “Sir” by other officers. But I noticed that informally, such as at dinner, all the general officers call him “Brad.”

I rode and I sat around with Gen. Bradley for three days, and at times I was so engulfed in stars, I thought I must be a comet. From now on, a mere colonel will have to do a couple of somersaults to get me to look at him.

Ernie takes a kidding

As a result of all this hobnobbing with the high and mighty, I have taken considerable kidding from the other correspondents. When I returned to our camp, the other boys said:

Uh, huh – Pyle, the doughboy’s friend. Wait till all the mothers of privates hear you’ve started consorting with generals.

Every time I pass Hal Boyle, of the Associated Press, he says out of the corner of his mouth so I can hear it:

There goes that social-climbing columnist.

And Chris Cunningham, of the United Press, conjectures that if this keeps up, in a few weeks I’ll be sitting around with the correspondents making such remarks as:

Well, I told Omar that his battle plan wouldn’t work, but he insisted on trying it out anyhow.

And another one said:

We passed you on the road today and there you were riding with the big general, and bareheaded as usual when you know it’s against the rules.

So, I said:

Well, when I went with the general, I told him I couldn’t find my leggings, and didn’t like to wear a steel helmet, and was it all right? He said, “Okay.”

And then Chris chimed in and said:

That’s the way. There you go, taking advantage of the power of the press. You ought to be ashamed.

So, we have had a lot of fun about my sad tumble from a yearlong kinship with the common soldier down to the depths of associating with a general. But it was fine while it lasted, and if I must associate with generals, I know I picked a pretty good one.

But the ride is over, and tomorrow I’ll go back to sleeping under some strange tree again just like a dog. Damn it.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 1, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
During the latter days of the Sicilian campaign, I spent all my time with the combat engineers of two different divisions.

For months I have been wanting to write about engineers and when I finally got around to it, it seemed as though fate had picked out the time for me – the engineers were in it up to their ears.

Scores of times during the Sicilian fighting, I heard the expression voiced by everybody from generals to privates that “This is certainly an engineers’ war.” And indeed it was.

Every foot of our advance upon the gradually-withdrawing enemy was measured by the speed with which our engineers could open the highways, clear the mines, and bypass the blown bridges.

In northeastern Sicily, where the mountains are close together and the valleys are steep and narrow, it was an ideal country for withdrawing, and the Germans made full use of it.

They blew almost every bridge they crossed. In the American area alone, they destroyed nearly 160 bridges. They mined the bypasses around the bridges, they mined the beaches, they even mined orchards and groves of trees that would be a logical bivouac for our troops.

Detector, bulldozer magic instruments

They didn’t fatally delay us, but they did give themselves time for considerable escaping. The average blown bridge was fairly easy to bypass and we’d have the mines cleared and a rough trail gouged out by a bulldozer within a couple of hours; but now and then they’d pick a lulu of a spot which would take anywhere up to 24 hours to get around.

And in reading of the work of these engineers you must understand that a 24-hour job over there would take many days in normal construction practice. The mine detector and the bulldozer are the two magic instruments of our engineering. As one sergeant said:

This has been a bulldozer campaign.

In Sicily, our Army would have been as helpless without the bulldozer as it would have been without the jeep. The bridges in Sicily were blown much more completely than they were in Tunisia. Back there they’d just drop one span with explosives. But over here they’d blow down the whole damn bridge, from abutment to abutment. They used as high as a thousand pounds of explosives to a bridge, and on one long, seven-span bridge they blew all seven spans. It was really senseless, and the pure waste of the thing outraged our engineers. Knocking down one or two spans would have delayed us just as much as destroying all of them.

The bridges of Sicily are graceful and beautiful old arches of stone or brick-facing, with rubble fill, and shattering them so completely was something like chopping down a shade tree or defacing a church.

They’ll all have to be rebuilt after the war and it’s going to take a lot more money than necessary to replace all those hundreds of spans. But I suppose the Germans and Italians figured dear old Uncle Sam would pay for it all, anyhow, so they might as well have their fun.

Nazis hit 2 high spots

Frequently the Germans, by blowing out a road carved out of the side of a sheer cliff, caused us more trouble than by bridge-blowing. In these instances, it was often impossible to bypass at all, so traffic had to be held up until an emergency bridge could be thrown across the gap.

Once in a while you would come to a bridge that hadn’t been blown. Usually that was because the river bed was so flat, and bypassing so easy, it wasn’t worth wasting explosives. Driving across a whole bridge makes you feel funny, almost immoral.

We have one whole bridge the Germans didn’t count on. They had it all prepared for blowing and left one man behind to set off the charge at the last moment. But he never got it done. Our advance patrols spotted him and shot the villain dead.

The Germans were even more prodigal with mines here than in Tunisia. Engineers of the 45th Division found one minefield, covering six acres, containing 800 mines. Our losses from mines have been fairly heavy, especially among officers. They scout ahead to survey demolitions, and run into mines before the detecting parties get there.

The enemy hit two high spots in their demolition and mine-planting. One was when they dropped a 50-yard strip of cliff-ledge coast road, overhanging the sea, with no possible way of bypassing. The other was when they planted mines along the road that crosses the lava beds in the foothills north of Mt. Etna. The metal in the lava threw our mine detectors helter-skelter, and we had a terrible time finding the mines.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 2, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
The engineering forces with our Army are trained and organized to a high degree, and engineering morale is proud and high.

Strange thing, it used to be the fashion to sort of sneer at the engineers, but that day has passed. Even the infantry takes off its hat to them – for not infrequently the engineers are actually out ahead of the infantry.

Before launching into many details of how the engineers work, I’ll explain how their organization is set up, for it will make it easier for you to understand their job. Each infantry division has a battalion of engineers which is actually part of that division and works and suffers with it. The battalion consists of four companies totaling around 800 men.

Sometimes all the companies are working in separate places with various infantry regiments. At other times, in mountainous country, when the whole division is strung out in a single line 20 miles or more long, the engineer companies keep leapfrogging each other, letting one company go into 24-hour reserve for a much-needed rest about every three days.

Behind these division engineers are what are called corps engineers. They are under control of the Second Army Corps and can be shifted anywhere at the corps’ command. Corps engineers follow up the division engineers, strengthening and smoothing the necessarily makeshift work of the division engineers.

Engineers mutual-esteem society

Capt. Ben Billups of Alamogordo, New Mexico, put it this way:

Our job is to clear the way for our division of roughly two thousand vehicles to move ahead just as quickly as possible. We are interested only in the division. If we were to build a temporary span across a blown bridge, and that span were to collapse one second after the last division truck had crossed, we would have done the theoretically perfect job. For we would have cleared the division, yet not wasted a minute of time doing more than we needed to do when we passed.

Then it is the corps engineers’ job to create a more permanent bridge for the supply convoys that will be following for days and weeks afterward.

Often there is jealousy and contempt between groups of similar types working under divisions and corps. But in the engineers, it is a sort of mutual-esteem society. Each respects and is proud of the other. The corps engineers are so good they are constantly at the heels of the division engineers, and a few times, with the division engineers 100% occupied with an especially difficult demolition, they’ve pushed ahead and tackled fresh demolitions themselves.

At first, particularly, all the officers of the engineers’ battalion were graduate engineers in civil life, but with the Army expanding so rapidly and professional experience running so thin, some young officers now assigned to the engineers have just come out of officers’ school and have little or no engineering experience.


Of the enlisted men. only a handful in each company ever had any construction experience. The rest are just run-of-the-mine – one-time clerks, butchers, cowpunchers. That little handful of experienced enlisted men carries the load and they are as vital as anything I know of in the Army.

Practically every man in an engineering company has to double in half a dozen brasses. Today he’ll be running a mine detector, tomorrow he’ll be a stonemason, next day a carpenter, and the day after a plain pick-and-shovel man. But unlike the common laborer at home, he’s picking and shoveling under fire about half the time.

In the Book of Organization, the duties of the engineers are manifold. But in the specialized warfare in Sicily many of their book duties just didn’t exist and their main work was concentrated down into four very vital categories: road building and bridge bypassing; clearing of minefields; finding and purifying water for the whole division; and providing the division with maps. The latter two don’t sound spectacular but, believe me, they’re important and I’ll tell you about them at length before this series ends.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 3, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
Sicily was known to be short of water in summertime, so our invasion forces brought enough water with them to last five days. In the case of the 45th Division, this amounted to 155,000 gallons.

It was brought in tanks and in individual five-gallon cans. There were three ships with tanks of 10,000 gallons each. On the transports there were 125,000 gallons, all in five-gallon cans. That meant that this one division brought with it from Africa 25,000 cans of water. Just think of it – 25,000 cans! And other divisions did the same.

Actually, we didn’t have as much trouble finding water as we’d expected, and we needn’t have brought so much with us, but you never know. Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach, but I think you could almost say an army marches on its water. Without water you’re sunk.

As an old punster, how in the hell can you sink without water? Well, I said it; you figure it out.

2 gallons per man

Throughout the Sicilian campaign, the 45th Division used about 50,000 gallons of water a day, or two gallons per man. Just as a comparison, the daily water consumption in Las Vegas, New Mexico, a city of 12,000, is a million gallons a day, or almost 100 gallons a person.

Although the difference seems fantastic, still our troops used more than absolutely necessary, for an army can exist and fight on one gallon a day per man.

It falls to the engineers to provide water for the Army. Engineer officers scout the country right behind the retiring enemy, looking for watering places.

They always keep three water points set up constantly for each division – one for each of the three regiments, and usually a couple of extra ones. When a water point is found, the engineers wheel in their portable purifying unit. This consists of a motorized pump, a sand filter, a chlorinating machine, and a collapsible 3,000-gallon canvas tank which stands about shoulder-high when put up.

Purified water is pumped into this canvas tank. Then all day and all night, vehicles of the regiment from miles around line up and fill their cans, tanks, and radiators.

Painted signs saying “Water Point,” with an arrow pointing the direction, are staked along the roads for miles around.

The sources of our water in Sicily were mainly wells, mountain springs, little streams, shell craters, and irrigation ditches. The engineers of the 45th Division found one shell crater that contained a broken water main, and the seepage into this crater provided water for days. They also discovered that some of Sicily’s dry river beds had underground streams flowing beneath, and by drilling down a few feet, they could pump up all they needed.

Sicilian supplies untapped

Another time, they put pumps into a tiny little irrigation ditch only four inches deep and a foot wide. You wouldn’t think it would furnish enough water for a mule, yet it kept flowing and carried them safely through.

In their municipal water systems, the Sicilians use everything from modern 20-inch cast-iron pipe down to primitive earthen aqueducts still surviving from Roman days.

Our engineers made it a practice not to tap the local water supplies. We made a good many friends that way, for the Sicilians said the Germans used no such delicacy. In fact, we leaned over the other way, and furnished water to scores of thousands of Sicilians whose supply had been shattered by bombing.

It doesn’t make much difference what shape the water is in when you find it, for it is pumped through the filter machine which takes out the sediment. Then purifying substances are shot in as it passes through the pumps. The chlorine we inject comes in powder form in one-gallon cans. We usually use one part of chlorine to a million parts of water.

The 45th’s engineers brought with them enough chlorine to last six months. In addition to chlorine, alum and soda ash is injected into the water. After you’ve drunk this water for as long as we have, you don’t notice the odd taste.

The 45th brought six complete water-purifying units with it and also brought a unit for distilling drinking water out of sea water, but this never had to be used.

Maybe a little ‘vino’

When he marches or goes into battle, an infantryman usually carries two canteens instead of one, but here in the hot summer it isn’t unusual at all to see a soldier carrying six canteens tied to the end of a leather strap like a bunch of grapes – half his canteens being captured Italian ones covered with gray felt for keeping the water cool.

And, I might add out of the side of my mouth, if you got real nosey, you might discover that a couple of those canteens, instead of holding our beautiful pure water, were bearing a strange red fluid known colloquially as “vino,” to be used, no doubt, for rubbing on fleabites.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 4, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
One of the outfits with which I lived for a while on the Sicilian front was the 120th Engineers Battalion, attached to the 45th Division.

The bulk of the 120th hail from my adopted state of New Mexico. They are part of the old New Mexico outfit, most of which was lost on Bataan. It was good to get back to these slow-talking, wise and easy people of the desert, and good to speak of places like Las Cruces, Socorro, and Santa Rosa. It was good to find somebody who lives within sight of my own picket fence on the mesa.

The 120th is made up of Spanish-Americans, Indians, straight New Mexicans, and a smattering of men from the East. It is commanded by Lt. Col. Lewis Frantz, who was superintendent of the Las Vegas (New Mexico) Light & Power Company before entering service.

Col. Frantz has now been in the Army for three years and has not been home during all that time. The 45th Division spent nearly two and a half years in training, and everybody almost went nuts thinking they’d never get overseas.

The strangest case of self-consciousness along that line that I’ve run onto is Capt. Waldo Lowe of Las Cruces. He had a chance to go home on furlough last Christmas, but didn’t because he was ashamed to be seen at home after spending two years in the Army and still not getting out of the United States.

And now he can’t go home

Now that he has leaped the overseas hurdle and feels qualified to go home, he can’t get there, of course. The executive officer of the unit is Maj. Jerry Hines, athletic director of the New Mexico Aggies for many years. Maj. Hines is expecting a football player in his family about mid-September. He says he hopes to get home in time to see him graduated from college.

Two of my Albuquerque home-towners are Capt. James Bezemek, 2003 N 4th St., whose father is county treasurer there, and Capt. Richard Strong, 113 Harvard St.

Capt. Strong was company commander when I saw him, but has since been promoted to the battalion staff. He and his two sergeants had one of the narrowest escapes in the battalion when their jeep (which they’d abandoned for a magnificent ditch about two seconds before) got a direct hit from an “88” and blew all to pieces. The sergeants were Martin Quintana, who used to be a machinist for the Santa Fe at Albuquerque, and John W. Trujillo, of Socorro.

A similar narrow escape happened to Capt. Ben Billups, of Alamogordo, New Mexico, a few days later when his brand-new amphibious jeep which he’d had just one day was hit and burned up. I would have been with him if I hadn’t got sick and gone to the hospital that morning. It’s a smart guy who knows just when to get sick.

The unit’s losses from mines and shellfire have been moderately heavy. Col. Frantz estimated that half of their work has been done under at least spasmodic shellfire, and at one time his engineers were 8.5 miles out ahead of the infantry.

Parachutes make silk sheets

The colonel himself is a big, drawling, typical Southwesterner whose stamina amazes everybody, for he is no spring chicken. During the critical periods he would be on the go till 4 a.m., snatch a few hours’ sleep on the ground, and be off again at 7 a.m.

In action, the officers just flop down on the hard rocky ground like everybody else, but when they go into reserve, they fixe up bedrolls on smooth places under trees, with blankets and mosquito nets. In fact, a few of the battalion officers right now are sporting the luxury of white silk sheets. They found a torn parachute and gave a Sicilian woman some canned food to cut it up and sew it into sheets for them.

A good percentage of the battalion speaks Spanish, and occasionally you’ll heard some of the officers talking Spanish among themselves, just to keep in practice, I suppose. This New Mexico bunch misses more than anything, I believe, the Spanish dishes they are accustomed to in that part of the country.

Their folks occasionally send them cans of chili and peppers, and then they have a minor feast. Capt. Pete Erwin, of Las Vegas and Santa Fe, has a quart of chicos – New Mexico dried corn – which he is saving for Christmas dinner.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 6, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (Sept. 2, by wireless)
The other day I promised to tell you something about maps. You may have never seen it mentioned, but a map is as common a piece of equipment among frontline officers as a steel helmet. A combat officer would be perfectly useless without his map.

It is the job of the engineers to handle the maps for each division. Just as soon as a division advances to the edge of the territory covered by its maps, the map officer has to dig into his portable warehouse and fish out thousands of new maps.

The immensity of the map program would amaze you. When it came from America, the 45th Division brought with it 83 tons of Sicilian maps! I forgot to ask how many individual maps that would be, but it would surely run close to half a million.

The 45th’s maps were far superior to any we’d been using and here’s the reason: Our maps were fundamentally based on old Italian maps. Then for months ahead of the invasion our reconnaissance planes flew over Sicily taking photographs. These photos were immediately flown across the Atlantic to Washington. There, if anything new was discovered in the photographs, it was superimposed on the maps.

They kept this process of correction open right up to the last minute. The 45th sailed from America only a short time before we invaded Sicily, and in the last week before it sailed the Map Section in Washington printed, placed in waterproofed cases, and delivered to the boats those 83 tons of maps, hot off the presses.

Help from Ancient Romans

The 120th Engineers went back into antiquity for one of their jobs. They were scouting for a bypass around a blown bridge when they stumbled onto a Roman stone road, centuries old and now unused and nearly covered with sand grass. They cleaned up the old highway, and used it for a mile and a half. If it hadn’t been for this antique road, it would have taken 400 men 12 hours to build a bypass. By using it, the job was done in four hours by 150 men.

The engineers were very careful throughout the campaign about tearing up native property. They used much extra labor and time to avoid damaging orchards, buildings or vineyards. Sometimes they’d build a road clear around an orchard rather than through it.

This consideration helped make us many friends here.

Bulldozer’s adventure

I met a bulldozer driver who operates his huge, clumsy machine with such utter skill that it is like watching a magician do card tricks. The driver is Joseph Campagnone, of 14 Middle St., Newton, Massachusetts. An Italian who came to America seven years ago, when he was 16, he has a brother in the Italian Army who was captured by the British in Egypt.

His mother and sisters live near Naples. I asked Joe if he had a funny feeling about fighting his own people and he said:

No, I guess we’ve got to fight somebody and it might as well be them as anybody else.

Campagnone has been a “cat” driver ever since he started working. He is so astonishingly adept at manipulating the big machine that groups of soldiers gather at the crater’s edge to admire and comment.

Joe has had one close shave. He was bulldozing a bypass around a blown bridge when the blade of his machine hit a mine. The explosion blew him off and stunned him, but he was not wounded. The driverless dozer continued to run and drove itself over a 50-foot cliff, and turned a somersault as it fell. It landed right side up with the engine still going.

Bathing not for Ernie

Our troops along the coast occasionally got a chance to bathe in the Mediterranean. Up in the mountains you’d see hundreds of soldiers, stark-naked, bathing in Sicilian horse troughs, or out of their steel helmets. The American soldier has a fundamental phobia about bodily cleanliness which is considered all nonsense by us philosophers of the Great Unwashed, which includes Arabs, Sicilians and me.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 7, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle returned to the United States today for a well-earned rest after 14 months spent in Ireland, England, Africa and Sicily. The following column and several others still to be printed were written before he left Sicily.

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
When the 45th Division went into reserve along the north coast of Sicily after several weeks of hard fighting, I moved on with the 3rd Division, which took up the ax and drove the enemy on to Messina.

I am still doing Engineers, and it was on my very first day with the 3rd that we hit the most difficult and spectacular engineering job of the Sicilian campaign.

You’ve doubtless noticed Point Calava on your maps. It is a great stub of rock that sticks out into the sea, forming a high ridge running back into the interior. The coast highway is tunneled through this big rock, and on either side of the tunnel the road sticks out like a shelf on the sheer rock wall.

Our Engineers figured the Germans would blow the tunnel entrance to seal it up. But they didn’t. They had an even better idea. They picked out a spot about 50 feet beyond the tunnel mouth and blew a hole 150 feet long in the road shelf. They blew it so deeply and thoroughly that if you dropped a rock into it, the rock would never stop rolling until it bounced into the sea a couple of hundred feet below.

We were beautifully bottlenecked. You couldn’t bypass the rock, for it dropped sheer into the sea. You couldn’t bypass over the mountain; that would take weeks. You couldn’t fill the hole, for it would keep sliding off into the water.

All you could do was bridge it, and that was a hell of a job. But bridge it they did, and in only 24 hours.

Infantry crawls across chasm

When the first Engineer officers went up to inspect the tunnel, I went with them. We had to leave the jeep at a blown bridge and walk the last four miles uphill. We went with an infantry battalion that was following the retreating Germans.

When we got there, we found the tunnel floor mined. But each spot where they’d dug into the hard rock floor left its telltale mark, so it was no job for the Engineers to uncover and unscrew the detonators of scores of mines. Then we went on through to the vast hole beyond, and the engineering officers began making their calculations.

As we did so, the regiment of infantry crawled across the chasm, one man at a time. You could just barely make it on foot by holding on to the rock juttings and practically crawling.

Another regiment went up over the ridge and took out after the evacuating enemy with only what weapons and provisions they could carry on their backs. Before another 24 hours, they’d be 20 miles ahead of us and in contact with the enemy, so getting this hole bridged and supplies and supporting guns to them was indeed a matter of life and death.

Room for only so many

It was around 2 p.m. when we got there and in two hours the little platform of highway at the crater mouth resembled a littered street in front of a burning building. Air hoses covered the ground, serpentined over each other. Three big air compressors were parked side by side, their engines cutting off and on in that erratically deliberate manner of air compressors, and jackhammers clattered their nerve-shattering din.

Bulldozers came to clear off the stone-blocked highway at the crater edge. Trucks, with long trailers bearing railroad irons and huge timbers, came and unloaded. Steel cable was brought up, and kegs of spikes, and all kinds of crowbars and sledges.

The thousands of vehicles of the division were halted some 10 miles back in order to keep the highway clear for the engineers. One platoon of men at a time worked in the hole. There was no use throwing in the whole company, for there was room for only so many.

At suppertime, hot rations were brought up by truck. The 3rd Division Engineers went on K ration at noon, but morning and evening they get hot food up to them, regardless of the job.

If you could see how they toll, you would know how important this hot food is. By dusk, the work was in full swing and half the men were stripped to the waist.

The night air of the Mediterranean was tropical. The moon came out at twilight and extended our light for a little while. The moon was new and pale, and transient, high-flying night clouds brushed it and scattered shadows down on us.

Then its frail light went out, and the blinding nightlong darkness settled over the insidious abyss. But the work never slowed nor halted throughout the night.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 8, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle has just arrived in the United States after more than 14 months with U.S. troops in the British Isles, Africa and Sicily. The following column was dispatched before he left Sicily. After a rest of about two months, Mr. Pyle will return to the war fronts, probably in the Pacific theater.

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
We are writing these few days about the spectacular bridging of a practically bottomless hole blown in a northern Sicilian coast road by the Germans in their retreat toward Messina.

It took our engineers 24 hours to bridge this enormous gap, but the men of the 3rd Division didn’t just sit and twiddle their thumbs during that time.

The infantry was sent across on foot and continued after the Germans. Some supplies and guns were sent around the roadblock by boat, and even the engineers themselves continued on ahead by boat. They had discovered other craters blown in the road several miles ahead. These were smaller ones that could be filled in by a bulldozer except that you couldn’t get a bulldozer across that vast hole they were trying to bridge.

So, the engineers commandeered two little Sicilian fishing boats about twice the size of rowboats. They lashed them together, nailed planking across them, and ran the bulldozer onto this improvised barge. They tied an amphibious jeep in front of it, and went chugging around Point Calava at about one mile an hour.

‘Engineers’ homemade Navy’

As we looked down at them laboring along so slowly. Lt. Col. Leonard Bingham, commanding officer of the 3rd Division’s 10th Engineers, grinned and said:

There goes the engineers’ homemade Navy.

The real Navy during the night had carried forward supplies and guns in armed landing craft. These were the cause of a funny incident around midnight. Our engineers had drilled and laid blasting charges to blow off part of the rock wall that overhung the Point Calava crater.

When all was ready, everybody went back in the tunnel to get out of the way. When the blast went off, the whole mountain shook and you quivered with positive belief that the tunnel was coming down. The noise there in the silent night was shocking.

Now just as this happened, a small fleet of these naval craft was passing in the darkness, just offshore. The sudden blast alarmed them. They apparently thought they were being fired upon from the shore. For just as our men were returning to their work at the crater edge, there came ringing up from the dark water below, so clear it sounded like an execution order, the resounding naval command:

Prepare to return fire.

Boy, you should have seen our men scatter! They hit the ground and scampered back into the tunnel as though Stukas were diving on them. We don’t know to this day exactly what happened out there, but we do know the Navy never did fire.

During the night, Maj. Gen. Lucian Truscott, commanding the 3rd Division, came up to see how the work was coming along. Bridging that hole was his main interest in life that night. He couldn’t help any, of course, but somehow, he couldn’t bear to leave. He stood around and talked to officers, and after a while he went off a few feet to one side and sat down on the ground and lit a cigarette.

Private orders general around

A moment later, a passing soldier saw the glow and leaned over and said, “Hey, gimme a light, will you?” The general did and the soldier never knew he had been ordering the general around.

Gen. Truscott, like many men of great action, has the ability to refresh himself by tiny catnaps of five or 10 minutes. So instead of going back to his command post and going to bed, he stretched out there against some rocks and dozed off. One of the working engineers came past, dragging some air hose. It got tangled up in the general’s feet. The tired soldier was annoyed, and he said crossly to the dark, anonymous figure on the ground:

If you’re not working, get the hell out of the way.

The general got up and moved farther back without saying a word.

The men worked on and on, and every one of the company officers stayed throughout the night, just to be there to make decisions when difficulties arose. But I got so sleepy I couldn’t stand it, and I caught a commuting truck back to the company camp and turned in. An hour before daylight I heard them rout out a platoon that had been resting.

They ate breakfast noisily, loaded into trucks, and were off just at dawn. A little later three truckloads of tired men pulled into camp, gobbled some breakfast, and fell into their blankets on the ground. The feverish attack on that vital highway obstruction had not lagged a moment during the whole night.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 9, 1943)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle has arrived in the United States for a well-earned rest after 14 months in Europe and Africa. This column and others to follow were written by Ernie and wirelessed home before he left Sicily.

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
It was an hour after daylight when I returned to the German-blown highway crater which our 3rd Division engineers had been working on all night.

It really didn’t look as though they’d accomplished much, but an engineer’s eye would have seen that the groundwork was all laid. They had drilled and blasted two holes far down the jagged slope. These were to set upright timbers into so they wouldn’t slide downhill when weight was applied.

The far side of the crater had been blasted out and leveled off so it formed a road across about one-third of the hole. Small ledges had been jackhammered at each end of the crater and timbers bolted into them, forming abutments. Steel hooks had been embedded deep into the rock to hold wire cables.

At about 10 a.m., the huge uprights were slid down the bank, caught by a group of men clinging to the steep slope below, and their ends worked into the blasted holes. Similar heavy timbers were slowly and cautiously worked out from the bank until their tops rested on the uprights.

Wire-walking act

A half-naked soldier, doing practically a wire-walking act, edged out over the timber and bored a long hole down through two timbers with an air-driven bit. Then he hammered a steel rod into it, tying them together.

Then they slung steel cable from one end of the crater to the other, wrapped it around the upright stanchions and drew it tight with a winch mounted on a truck.

Now came the coolie scene as 20 shirtless, sweating soldiers to each of the long, spliced timbers carried and slid them out across the chasm, resting them on the two wooden spans just erected. They sagged in the middle, but still the cable beneath took most of the strain. Big stringers were bolted down, heavy flooring was carried on and nailed to the stringers.

First, Maj. Gen. Truscott arrived again and sat on a log talking with the engineering officers, waiting patiently. Around dusk of the day before, the engineers had told me they’d have jeeps across the crater by noon of the next day.

High noon on the nose

But even they will have had to admit it was pure coincidence that the first jeep rolled cautiously across the miracle bridge at high noon, to the very second.

In that first jeep was Gen. Truscott and his driver, facing a 200-foot tumble into the sea if the bridge gave way. The engineers had insisted they send a test jeep across first. But when he saw it was ready, the general just got in and went. It wasn’t done dramatically but it was a sort of dramatic thing. It showed that the “Old Man” had complete faith in his engineers.

Jeeps snaked across the rickety bridge behind the general while the engineers kept stations beneath the bridge to watch and measure the sag under each load. The bridge squeaked and bent as the jeeps crept over. But it held, and nothing else matters. When the vital spearhead of the division got across, traffic was halted again and the engineers were given three hours to strengthen the bridge for heavier traffic by inserting a third heavy upright in the middle.

They had built a jerry bridge, a comical bridge, a proud bridge, but above all the kind of bridge that wins wars. The general was mighty pleased.

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