The Pittsburgh Press (August 19, 1943)
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.