Roving Reporter, Ernie Pyle

The Pittsburgh Press (August 28, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Paris, France – (by wireless, delayed)
I had thought that for me there could never again be any elation in war. But I had reckoned without the liberation of Paris – I had reckoned without remembering that I might be a part of this richly historic day.

We are in Paris – on the first day – one of the great days of all time. This is being written, as other correspondents are writing their pieces, under an emotional tension, a pent-up semi-delirium.

Our approach to Paris was hectic. We had waited for three days in a nearby town while hourly our reports on what was going on in Paris changed and contradicted themselves. Of a morning it would look as though we were about to break through the German ring around Paris and come to the aid of the brave French Forces of the Interior who were holding parts of the city.

By afternoon it would seem the enemy had reinforced until another Stalingrad was developing. We could not bear to think of the destruction of Paris, and yet at times it seemed desperately inevitable.

That was the situation this morning when we left Rambouillet and decided to feel our way timidly toward the very outskirts of Paris. And then, when we were within about eight miles, rumors began to circulate that the French 2nd Armored Division was in the city. We argued for half an hour at a crossroads with a French captain who was holding us up, and finally le freed us and waved us on.

For 15 minutes we drove through i flat gardenlike country under a magnificent bright sun and amidst greenery, with distant banks of smoke pillaring the horizon ahead and to our left. And then we came gradually into the suburbs, and soon into Paris itself and a pandemonium of surely the greatest mass joy that has ever happened.

Crowd almost hysterical

The streets were lined as by Fourth of July parade crowds at home, only this crowd was almost hysterical. The streets of Paris are very wide, and they were packed mi each side. The women were all brightly dressed in white or red blouses and colorful peasant skirts, with flowers in their hair and big flashy earrings. Everybody was growing flowers, and even serpentine.

As our jeep eased through the crowds, thousands of people crowded up, leaving only a narrow corridor, and frantic men, women and children grabbed us and kissed us and shook our hands and beat on our shoulders and slapped our backs and shouted their joy as we passed.

I was in a jeep with Henry Gorrell of the United Press, Capt. Carl Pergler of Washington, DC, and Cpl. Alexander Belon of Amherst, Massachusetts. We all got kissed until we were literally red in face, and I must say we enjoyed it.

Once when the jeep was simply swamped in human traffic and had to stop, we were swarmed over and hugged and kissed and torn at. Everybody, even beautiful girls, insisted on kissing you on both cheeks. Somehow, I got started kissing babies that were held up by their parents, and for a while, I looked like a baby-kissing politician going down the street. The fact that I hadn’t shaved for days, and was gray-bearded as well as baldheaded, made no difference. Once when we came to a stop some Frenchman told us there were still snipers shooting, so we put our steel helmets back on.

People well fed, well dressed

The people certainly looked well fed and well dressed. The streets were lined with green trees and modern buildings. All the stores were closed in holiday. Bicycles were so thick I have an idea there have been plenty accidents today, with tanks and jeeps overrunning the populace.

We entered Paris via Rue Aristide Briand and Rue d’Orleans. We were slightly apprehensive, but decided it was all right to keep going as long as there were crowds. But finally we were stymied by the people in the streets, and then above the din we heard some not-to-distant explosions – the Germans trying to destroy bridges across the Seine. And then the rattling of machine guns up the street, and that old battlefield whine of high-velocity shells just overhead. Some of us veterans ducked, but the Parisians just laughed and continued to carry on.

There came running over to our jeep a tall, thin, happy woman in a light brown dress, who spoke perfect American.

She was Mrs. Helen Cardon, who lived in Paris for 21 years and has not been home to America since 1935. Her husband is an officer in French Army headquarters and home now after two and a half years as a German prisoner. He was with her, in civilian clothes.

Mrs. Cardon has a sister, Mrs. George Swikart of 201 W 72nd Sts., New York, and I can say here to her relatives in America that she is well and happy. Incidentally, her two children, Edgar and Peter, are the only two American children, she says, who have been in Paris throughout the entire war.

We entered Paris from due south and the Germans were still battling in the heart of the city along the Seine when we arrived, but they were doomed. There was a full French armored division in the city, plus American troops entering constantly.

The farthest we got in our first hour in Paris was near the Senate building, where some Germans were holed up and firing desperately. So, we took a hotel room nearby and decided to write while the others fought. By the time you read this I’m sure Paris will once again be free for Frenchmen, and I’ll be out all over town getting my bald head kissed. Of all the days of national joy I’ve ever witnessed, this is the biggest.

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Wow, if one wants to be somewhere on any given day, this is the day to be in Paris. What a day!

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 29, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Paris, France – (by wireless)
The other correspondents have written so thoroughly and so well about the fantastic eruption of mass joy when Paris was liberated that I shall not dwell on it much longer.

But there are some little things I have to get out of my system, so we’ll have at least this one more column on it.

Actually, the thing has floored most of us. I know that I have felt totally incapable of reporting it to you. It was so big I felt in adequate to touch it. I didn’t know where to start or what to say. The words you put down about it sound feeble to the point of asininity.

I’m not alone in this feeling, for I’ve heard a dozen other correspondents say the same thing. A good many of us feel we have failed in properly presenting the loveliest, brightest story of our time. It could be that this is because we have been so unused, for so long, to anything bright.

At any rate let’s go back to the demonstration. From 2 o’clock in the afternoon until darkness around 10:00, we few Americans in Paris on that first day were kissed and hauled and mauled by friendly mobs until we hardly knew where we were.

Waving arms finally give out

Everybody kissed you – little children, old women, grown-up men, beautiful girls. They jumped and squealed and pushed in a literal frenzy.

They pinned bright little flags and badges all over you. Amateur cameramen took pictures. They tossed flowers and friendly tomatoes into your jeep. One little girl even threw a bottle of cider into ours.

As you drove along, gigantic masses of waving and screaming humanity clapped their hands as though applauding a fine performance in a theater. We in the jeeps smiled back until we had set grins on our faces. We waved until our arms gave out, and then we just waggled our fingers. We shook hands until our hands were bruised and scratched. If the jeep stopped you were swamped instantly. Those who couldn’t reach you threw kisses at you, and we threw kisses back.

They sang songs. They sang wonderful French songs we had never heard. And they sang “Tipperary” and “Madelon” and “Over There” and the “Marseillaise.”

French policemen saluted formally but smilingly as we passed. The French tanks that went in ahead of us pulled over to the sidewalks and were immediately swarmed over.

And then some weird cell in the mystic human makeup caused people to start wanting autographs. It began the first evening and by the next day had grown to unbelievable proportions. Everybody wanted every soldier’s autograph.

They showed notebooks and papers at you to sign. It was just like Hollywood. One woman, on the second day, had a stack of neat little white slips, surely 300 of them, for people to sign.

Perfect day, perfect occasion

That first afternoon only the main streets into the city were open and used, and they were packed with humanity. The side streets were roped off and deserted, because the Germans had feeble fortifications and some snipers there.

The weather was marvelous for liberation day, and for the next day too. For two days previously it had been gloomy and raining. But on the big day the sky was pure blue, the sun was bright and warm – a perfect day for a perfect occasion.

Paris seems to have all the beautiful girls we have always heard it had. The women have an art of getting themselves up fascinatingly. Their hair is done crazily, their clothes are worn imaginatively. They dress in riotous colors in this lovely warm season, and when the flag-draped holiday streets are packed with Parisians the color makes everything else in the world seem gray.

As one soldier remarked, the biggest thrill in getting to Paris is to see people in bright summer clothes again.

Like any city, Paris has its quota of dirty and ugly people. But dirty and ugly people have emotions too, and Hank Gorrell got roundly kissed by one of the dirtiest and ugliest women I have ever seen. I must add that since he’s a handsome creature, he also got more than his share of embraces from the beautiful young things.

There was one funny little old woman, so short she couldn’t reach up to kiss men in military vehicles, who appeared on the second day carrying a stepladder. Whenever a car stopped, she would climb her stepladder and let the boys have it with hugs, laughs and kisses.

‘Thank you for coming’

The second day was a little different from the first. You could sense that during those first few hours of liberation the people were almost animal-like in their panic of joy and relief and gratitude. They were actually crying as they kissed you and screamed, “Thank you, oh thank you, for coming!”

But on the second day it was a deliberate holiday. It was a festival prepared for and gone into on purpose. You could tell that the women had prettied up especially. The old men had on their old medals, and the children were scrubbed and Sunday-dressed until they hurt.

And then everybody came downtown. By 2:00 in the afternoon the kissing and shouting and autographing and applauding were almost deafening. The pandemonium of a free and lovable Paris reigned again. It was wonderful to be here.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 30, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Paris, France – (by wireless)
As we drove toward Paris from the south, hundreds of Parisians – refugees and returning vacationists – rode homeward on bicycles amidst the tanks and big guns.

Some Frenchmen have the facility for making all of us Nervous Nellies look ridiculous. There should be a nonchalant Frenchman in every war movie. He would be a sort of French Charlie Chaplin. You would have tense soldiers crouching in ditches and firing from behind low walls. And in the middle of it you would have this Frenchman, in faded blue overalls and beret and with a nearly burned-up cigarette in his mouth, come striding down the middle of the road past the soldiers.

I’ve seen that very thing happen about four times since D-Day, and you never can see it without laughing.

Well, the crowds were out in Paris like that while the shooting was still going on. People on bicycles would stop with one foot on the pavement to watch the firing that was going on right in that block.

As the French 2nd Armored Division rolled into the city at dangerous speed, I noticed one tank commander, with goggles, smoking a cigar, and another soldier in a truck playing a flute for his own amusement. There were also a good many pet dogs riding into the battle on top of tanks and trucks.

Amidst this fantastic Paris-ward battle traffic were people pushing baby carriages full of belongings, walking with suitcases, and riding bicycles so heavily loaded with gear that if they were to lay them down, they had to have help to lift them upright.

And in the midst of it was a tandem bicycle ridden by a man and a beautiful woman, both in bright blue shorts, just as though they were holidaying – which undoubtedly they were.

Each tank sort of social center

You never saw so many bicycles in your life as in Paris. And they rig up the funniest contraptions on them, such as little two-wheeled carts which they tow behind. And we saw a wagon rigged up so it could be pulled by two bicyclists riding side by side, like a team of horses.

For 24 hours tanks were parked on the sidewalks all over downtown Paris. They were all manned by French soldiers, and each tank immediately became a sort of social center.

Kids were all over the tanks like flies. Women in white dresses climbed up to kiss men with grimy faces. And early the second morning we saw a girl climbing sleepily out of a tank turret.

French soldiers of the Armored Division were all in American uniforms and they had American equipment. Consequently, most people at first thought we few Americans were French. Then, puzzled, they would say, “English?” and we would say, “No, American.” And then we would get a little scream and a couple more kisses.

Every place you stopped, somebody in the crowd could speak English. They apologized for not inviting us to their homes for a drink, saying they didn’t have any. Time and again they would say, “We’ve waited so long for you!” It almost got to be a refrain.

One elderly gentleman said that although we were long in reaching France we had come swiftly since then. He said the people hadn’t expected us to be in Paris for six months after invasion day.

There are not many American soldiers in Paris. And it’s unlikely there will be, at least for some time, because they are out over France going on with the war.

Paris was not a military objective; its liberation so soon was more of a symbol. That’s the reason the French Armored Division was assigned to the job.

Hotel life strange to Ernie

The armies still fighting in the field were practically deserted for a few days by the correspondents, as we all wanted to get in on the liberation of Paris. There were so many correspondents it got to be a joke, even among us. I think at least 200 must have entered the city that first day. both before and after the surrender.

The Army had picked out a hotel for us ahead of time, and it was taken over as soon as the city surrendered. But though it was a big hotel it was full before dark the first day, so they have taken over another huge one across the street.

Hotel life seems strange after so long in the field. My own room is a big corner one, with easy chairs, a soft bed, a bathroom and maid and hall-porter service. There is no electricity in the daytime, no hot water anytime and no restaurant or bar, but outside of that the hotel is just about like peacetime.

Sitting here writing within safe walls, and looking out the window occasionally at the street thronged with happy people, it is already hard to believe there was a war; even harder to realize there still is a war.

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The Pittsburgh Press (August 31, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Paris, France – (by wireless)
Eating has been skimpy in Paris through the four years of German occupation, but reports that people were on the verge of starvation apparently were untrue.

The country people of Normandy all seemed so healthy and well fed that we said all along: “Well, country people always fore best, but just wait till we get to Paris. We’ll see real suffering there.”

Of course, the people of Paris have suffered during these four years of darkness. But I don’t believe they have suffered as much physically as we had thought.

Certainly, they don’t look bedraggled and gaunt and pitiful, as the people of Italy did. In fact, they look to me just the way you would expect them to look in normal times.

However, the last three weeks before the liberation really were rough. For the Germans, sensing that their withdrawal was inevitable, began taking everything for themselves.

There is very little food in Paris right now. The restaurants either are closed or serve only the barest meals – coffee and sandwiches. And the “national coffee,” as they call it, is made from barley and is about the vilest stuff you ever tasted. France has had nothing else for four years.

If you were to take a poll on what the average Parisian most wants in the way of little things, you would probably find that he wants real coffee, soap, gasoline and cigarettes.

Eating problem for writers

Eating is the biggest problem right now for us correspondents. The Army hasn’t yet set up a mess. We can’t even get our rations cooked in our hotel kitchens, on account of the gas shortage.

So, we just eat cold K-rations and 10-in-l rations in our rooms. For two days most us were so busy we didn’t eat at all, and on the morning after the liberation of Paris some of the correspondents were actually so weak from not eating that they could hardly navigate.

But the food situation should be relieved within a few days. The Army is bringing in 3,000 tons of food right away for the Parisians. That is only about two pounds per person, but it will help.

In little towns only 10 miles from Paris you can get eggs and wonderful dinners of meat and noodles. Food does exist, and now that transportation is open again Paris should be eating soon.

Autos were almost nonexistent on the streets of Paris when we arrived. That first day we met an English girl who had been here throughout the war, and we drove her for some distance in our jeep. She was as excited as a child, and said that was her first ride in a motorcar in four years. We told her that it wasn’t a motorcar that it was a jeep, but she said it was a motorcar to her.

Outside of war vehicles, a few French civilian cars were running when we arrived but they were all in official use in the fighting. All of these had “FFI” (French Forces of the Interior) painted in rough white letters on the fenders, tops and sides.

Average guy didn’t fare too badly

Although it appears that the Germans did conduct themselves fairly properly up until the last few weeks, the French really detest them. One woman told me that for the first three weeks of the occupation the Germans were fine but that then they turned arrogant. The people of Paris simply tolerated them and nothing more.

The Germans did perpetrate medieval barbarities against leaders of the Resistance movement as their plight became more and more desperate. But what I’m driving at is that the bulk of the population of Paris – the average guy who just get along no matter who is here – didn’t really fare too badly from day to day. It was just the things they heard about and the fact of being under a bullheaded and arrogant thumb, that created the smoldering hatred for the Germans in the average Parisian’s heart.

You can get an idea how they feel from a little incident that occurred the first night we were here.

We put up at a little family sort of hotel in Montparnasse. The landlady took us up to show us our rooms. A cute little French maid came along with her.

As we were looking around the room the landlady opened a wardrobe door, and there on a shelf lay a German soldier’s cap that he had forgotten to take.

The landlady picked it up with the tips of her fingers, held it out at arm’s length, made a face, and dropped it on a chair.

Whereupon the little maid reached up with her pretty foot and gave it a huge kick that sent it sailing across the room.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 2, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

In France – (by wireless)
We left Paris after a few days and went again with the armies in the field. In Paris we had slept in beds and walked on carpeted floors for the first time in three months.

It was a beautiful experience, and yet for some perverse reason a great inner feeling of calm and relief came over us when we once again set up our cots in a tent, with apple trees for our draperies and only the green grass for a rug.

Hank Gorrell of the United Press was with me, and he said, “This is ironic, that we should have to go back with the armies to get some peace.”

The gaiety and charm and big-cityness of Paris somehow had got a little on our nerves after so much of the opposite. I guess it indicate that all of us will have to make our return to normal life gradually and in small doses.

Paris prices inflated

Paris unquestionably is a lovely city. It seems to me to have been but little hurt by the war. You can still buy almost anything imaginable if you have money. Everybody is well-dressed. But prices are terrific, and already they have started zooming higher.

Those of us who expect to be coming home before long have made shopping tours and stocked up with gifts. And with the exception of perfume, which is dirt cheap, we pay about three times what we would at home for the same thing.

I’m sorry the restaurants could not open before we left. For although I’m not much of a gourmet I do value the sense of taste, and we’ve eaten enough meals in private homes and small-town restaurants over here to realize that it’s all true about the French culinary genius.

They simply have a knack for making any old thing taste wonderful, just as the British have a knack for making everything taste horrible.

The other night we were talking about the beautiful women of Paris – as who doesn’t?

One fellow said the women here were the most beautiful in the world.

They have that knowhow

But I said no, that wasn’t true. You see women in America and England who are just as beautiful as any in Paris. But it seems that here the percentage of good-looking women is higher than in other countries.

And another fellow said no, that wasn’t it either. He thought the ratio was approximately the same in America and England and France. But in Paris a bigger percentage have the gift of getting themselves up to look devastating.

And I guess that’s it.

We thought there were a lot of people on the streets those first two days. But you should have seen Paris a few days later, when the whole populace began to come out. By midafternoon it is almost impossible to drive in the streets because of the bicycles. They take up the entire street, as far as you can see. The sidewalks are packed. It’s like Christmas shopping tithe at home.

Within three days, Paris was transformed from a city crackling and roaring with brief warfare into a city entirely at peace. With in three days Paris was open for business as usual, and its attitude toward the war reminded me of Cairo after it threat of danger had gone.

As usual, those Americans most deserving of seeing Paris will be the last ones to see it, if they ever do. By that 1 mean the fighting soldiers.

Rear echelons get the kisses

Only one infantry regiment and one reconnaissance outfit of Americans actually came into Paris, and they passed on through the city quickly and went on with their war.

The first ones in the city to stay were such nonfighters as the psychological-warfare and Civil Affairs people, public-relations men and correspondents.

I heard more than one rear-echelon soldier say he felt a little ashamed to be getting all the grateful cheers and kisses for the liberation of Paris when the guys who broke the German Army and opened the way for Paris to be free were still out there fighting without benefit of kisses or applause.

But that’s the way things are in this world.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 4, 1944)

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

In France – (by wireless)
The last time I was with the frontline medics – a battalion detachment in the 4th Division – they showed me a piece in The Stars and Stripes about Congress passing the new $10-a-month pay increase for soldiers holding the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge.

This Combat Infantry Badge is a proud thing, a mark of great distinction, a sign on a man’s chest to show that he has been through the mill. The medical aidmen were feeling badly because the piece said they were not eligible for the badge.

Their captain asked me what I thought, and so did some of the enlisted aidmen. And I could tell them truthfully that my feelings agreed with theirs. They should have it. And I’m sure any combat infantryman would tell you the same thing.

Praise for the medics has been unanimous ever since this war started. And just as proof of what they go through, take this one detachment of battalion medics that I was with.

They were 31 men and two officers. And in one seven-week period of combat in Normandy this summer, they lost nine men killed and ten wounded. A total of 19 out of 33 men – a casualty ratio of nearly 60 percent in seven weeks!

Special badge suggested

As one aidman said, probably they have been excluded because they are technically noncombatants and don’t carry arms. But he suggested that if this was true, they could still be given a badge with some distinctive medical marking on it, to set them off from medical aidmen who don’t work right in the lines.

So, I would like to propose to Congress or the War Department or whoever handles such things that the ruling be altered to include medical aidmen in battalion detachments and on forward.

They are the ones who work under fire. Medics attached to regiments and to hospitals farther back do wonderful work too, of course, and are sometimes under shellfire. But they are seldom right out on the battlefield. So, I think it would be fair to include only the medics who work from battalion on forward.

I have an idea the original ruling was made merely through a misunderstanding, and that there would be no objection to correcting it.

You must hear about my new stove. You may remember that last winter in Italy we mentioned how practical and wonderful the little Coleman gasoline stove was for soldiers in the field. Well, that remark had repercussions.

It seems the employees of the Coleman Stove Company, in Wichita, Kansas, were very pleased. It made them feel that they were doing something worthwhile for the war So, in appreciation, they decided to make up a special stove as a gift for me.

Engraved like a loving cup

We kept hearing about it over here for weeks, and waited for it the way children wait for Christmas. The other correspondents were as excited about it as I was.

At last, it came. Boy, you should see it. It is an exact duplicate of the regular stove, except that this one is all hand-made and chromium-plated and has my name engraved on it, like a loving cup.

One of the correspondents said, “You can’t light that, it’s too pretty.”

An Army colonel said, “They should have sent a fireplace and a mantel along for you to exhibit it on.”

For days there was a line of soldiers and correspondents at my tent wanting to see the stove. Twice we got ready to light it while photographers took pictures, but at the last minute we couldn’t bear to, and put it away. The boys all kidded me and said they bet I never would light it.

Necessity finally drove me to it. That was in Paris. I had given my old stove to a friend, thinking I wouldn’t need one any more. But the eating situation in Paris was drastic at first, and we had only the rations we brought with us individually.

So, at last I had to break down and light my stove in a hotel room in Paris. Some of the boys had joked and said it was so beautiful it probably wouldn’t work. But it did. It practically melted the hotel walls down.

So, to all of you who had a hand in the stove, my thanks and gratitude. But if this keeps up, I’ll have to be careful about admiring in print any Baldwin locomotives or steam-shovels.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 5, 1944)

British pilot Pyle found recovering in RAF hospital

Washington –
The courageous British pilot, found by Ernie Pyle and a group of American soldiers in Normandy after he had been lying, wounded and trapped, in his plane for eight days without food or water, is recovering from his terrible ordeal.

After treatment in an American hospital, he was transferred to an RAF hospital, where he “is resting comfortably and progressing satisfactorily,” the British Information Service here said.

The pilot, Lt. Robert Gordon Lee, is expected to be in the hospital three months, he suffered a compound fracture of the left leg and numerous bullet wounds when his plane was shot down.

Lt. Lee had tried to land his plane in a field and it flipped upside down, trapping him. He wrapped his handkerchief around a wound in his hand and then thrust his hand through a small hole in the side of the pane and waved it to attract attention.

On the eighth day, American soldiers, riding by in a jeep, noticed the movement of the handkerchief, investigated, and in a few hours the pilot was rescued.

Ernie Pyle called Lt. Lee’s calm fortitude during that long period of suffering “one of the really great demonstrations of courage in this war.”

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Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Paris, France – (by wireless)
This is the last of these columns from Europe. By the time you read this, the old man will be on his way back to America. After that will come a long, long rest. And after the rest – well, you never can tell.

Undoubtedly this seems to you to be a funny time for a fellow to be quitting the war. It is a funny time. But I’m not leaving because of a whim, or even especially because I’m homesick.

I’m leaving for one reason only – because I have just got to stop. “I’ve had it,” as they say in the Army. I have had all I can take for a while.

I’ve been 29 months overseas since this war started; have written around 700,000 words about it; have totaled nearly a year in the frontlines.

I do hate terribly to leave right now, but I have given out. I’ve been immersed in it too long. My spirit is wobbly and my mind is confused. The hurt has finally become too great.

All of a sudden it seemed to me that if I heard one more shot or saw one more dead man, I would go off my nut. And if I had to write one more column I’d collapse. So, I’m on my way.

It may be that a few months of peace will restore some vim to my spirit, and I can go war-horsing off to the Pacific. We’ll see what a little New Mexico sunshine does along that line.

Couldn’t get around to all the branches

Even after two and a half years of war writing, there still is a lot I would like to tell. I wish right now that I could tell you about our gigantic and staggering supply system that keeps these great armies moving.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to get around to many branches of service that so often are neglected. I would like to have written about the Transportation Corps and the airport engineers and the wire stringers and the chemical mortars and the port battalions. To all of those that I have missed, my apologies. But the Army over here is just too big to cover it all.

I know the first question everyone will ask when I get home is: “When will the war be over?”

So, I’ll answer even before you ask me, and the answer is: “I don’t know.”

We all hope and most of us think it won’t be long now. And yet there’s a possibility of it going on and on, even after we are deep in Germany. The Germans are desperate and their leaders have nothing to quit for.

Every day the war continues is another hideous blackmark against the German nation. They are beaten and yet they haven’t quit. Every life lost from here on is a life lost to no purpose.

If Germany does deliberately drag their war on and on, she will so infuriate the world by her inhuman bullheadedness that she is apt to be committing national suicide.

Germans show their real cruelty

In our other campaigns we felt we were fighting, on the whole, a pretty good people. But we don’t feel that way now. A change has occurred. On the Western Front, the Germans have shown their real cruelty of mind. We didn’t used to hate them, but we do now.

The outstanding figure on this Western Front is Lt. Gen. Omar Nelson Bradley. He is so modest and sincere that he probably will not get his proper credit, except in military textbooks.

But he has proved himself a great general in every sense of the word. And as a human being, he is just as great. Having him in command has been a blessed good fortune for America.

I cannot help but feel bad about leaving. Even hating the whole business as much as I do, you come to be a part of it. And you leave some of yourself here when you depart. Being with the American soldier has been a rich experience.

To the thousands of them that I know personally and the other hundreds of thousands for who I have had the humble privilege of being a sort of mouthpiece, this then is to say goodbye – and good luck.

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Ernie has experienced far more war compared to the many units he was embedded within. He has provided a needed role to inform American and world citizens with a realistic view of war that no one could imagine. Everyone wishes him well as he rests and recuperates. Ernie, well done and thank you for your service to us.

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The Pittsburgh Press (September 9, 1944)

Senator praises Ernie Pyle’s work

Washington (UP) –
Senator Carl A. Hatch (D-NM) yesterday praised the work of Scripps-Howard correspondent Ernie Pyle as “performed magnificently and bravely.”

Senator Hatch read to the Senate the last dispatch filed by Mr. Pyle from France, in which he said he hated “terribly to leave right now, but if I had to write on more column, I’d collapse.”

Senator Hatch said:

Personally, I regret his leaving the war just on the eve of victory, but as one of his admirers I am glad he’s returning to our state of New Mexico where the sunshine will fully heal war’s cruel hurt.

Senator Hatch predicted that after Mr. Pyle rests a while, he “will go war-horsing to some far distant island to describe the conditions under which our sons fight and die that the sons of all men may be free.”

“I take this opportunity to express my own appreciation of his great work,” Senator Hatch said.

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The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1944)

Ernie Pyle gets doctor’s degree

Albuquerque, New Mexico (UP) –
The servicemen’s “representative to the folks back home” – war correspondent Ernie Pyle – was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of letters at the University of New Mexico’s fall commencement exercises yesterday.

Pyle, recently returned from Europe, was presented for the degree by Dean George Hammond of the university’s graduate school, who said:

Peoples of the United States – in fact, the whole world – have come to know Ernie Pyle as a roving reporter during the present World War, writer of keen observation, tireless energy and a faithful and sympathetic nature.

He followed the soldiers around, wherever they were and, in his writings, became their representative to the folks back home.

The veteran Scripps-Howard correspondent received the degree with his usual modesty. He had said in advance of the ceremony that he didn’t think he deserved to be awarded the honorary degree.

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The Pittsburgh Press (October 27, 1944)

B. Meredith to play role

Prize role set for noted actor

The question uppermost in the minds of Ernie Pyle’s army of devoted admirers – “Who’ll play him on the screen?” – was settled definitely today by film producer Lester Cowan in a long distance telephone call to The Pittsburgh Press.

“The Pyle role goes to Capt. Burgess Meredith, assigned to inactive duty by the Army,” announced Mr. Cowan, who is producing G.I. Joe, based on Ernie’s book, Here Is Your War.

Mr. Cowan continued:

Buzz [Meredith] is the same height as Ernie, has his general build and is within 10 pounds of Ernie’s weight. After many months of consideration – for we have to please about 20 million people, including the thousands of doughboys who know Ernie – we have finally decided on Meredith.

Meredith is a fine actor and sensitive enough to create a life-like portrayal of Ernie on the screen.

Will study Ernie

Mr. Cowan said that the choice has Ernie’s approval and that Meredith will go to New Mexico immediately to stay with the famous war correspondent in order to study Ernie at close range.

The actor became famous on Broadway before going to Hollywood, appearing in such notable plays as Maxwell Anderson’s Winterset, High Tor and Star Wagon. He appeared at the local Nixon in two of these plays.

Four other big-name stars were under consideration – James Gleason, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan and Fred Astaire. In addition, at least 500 unknowns were candidates. Of the latter Pittsburgh’s Rosey Roswell was the outstanding.

Rosey nearly ‘in’

Rosey, about two months ago, sped by plane to Hollywood on Mr. Cowan’s request. There the radio announcer took a screen test and the results were encouraging – so much so that for a while it seemed Rosey would win the coveted assignment. However, a switch in directors caused Cowan to reconsider and it was decided to cast a famous actor.

William A. Wellman, an Academy Award winner, is directing the production. Mr. Wellman’s first choice was Fred Astaire – but he was “voted down” by popular opinion which held “Ernie’s no dancer, and a famous dancer in the role would ruin the illusion.”

In 1942, Meredith became a private in the Army. A series of promotions elevated him to a captain’s rank. He was assigned to Allied headquarters in Europe, where he wrote, produced and acted in two training films.

The Pittsburgh Press (November 13, 1944)

Pyle honored by Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana (UP) –
Ernie Pyle, Scripps-Howard war correspondent, came back home again to Indiana today to receive an honorary degree from Indiana University as “an accurate reporter with a yen to write about common people and ordinary things.”

From the university, his alma mater, Pyle received the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. It was his second honorary degree within a month, the University of New Mexico having granted him one earlier.

In the audience were his father, William C. Pyle, and his “Aunt Mary” Bales, who came to Bloomington from their home at Dana, Indiana, for the ceremony.

President Herman B. Wells of Indiana University conferred the degree.

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The Pittsburgh Press (November 15, 1944)


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The Pittsburgh Press (November 21, 1944)

Editorial: Stampede!

By Ernie Pyle

The Treasury Department asked Ernie Pyle to write a special article for use in the Sixth War Loan Drive. The most appropriate place to publish it, it seems to us, is this editorial column. Here it is:


This little piece comes more in the blood-bank category than in the bond-buying one, yet if you’ll apply it to your bond-buying, it may help save a great deal of blood.

This fall I came home from France on a ship that carried 1,000 of our wounded American soldiers. About a fourth of them were terribly wounded stretcher cases. The rest were up and about. These others could walk, though among the walking were many legs and arms missing, many eyes that could not see.

Well, there was one hospitalized soldier who was near death on this trip. He was wounded internally, and the Army doctors were trying desperately to keep him alive until we got to America. They operated several times, and they kept pouring plasma and whole blood into him constantly, until they ran out of whole blood.

I happened to be in the head doctor’s cabin at noon one day when he was talking about this boy. He said he had his other doctors at that moment going around the ship typing blood specimens from several of the ship’s officers, and from unwounded Army and Navy officers aboard. They were doing it almost surreptitiously, for they didn’t want it to get out that they needed blood.

And why didn’t they want it to get out? Because if it had, there would have been a stampede to the hospital ward by the other wounded men, offering their blood to this dying comrade. Think of that – a stampede of men themselves badly wounded, wanting to give their blood!

If they, who had already given so much, were willing to give even more for their fellow men, isn’t it the least we can do for those fellow men still fighting to stampede to the bond counter?

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Vorarlberger Tagblatt (November 27, 1944)

Unsere Meinung: Er hat genug

Der amerikanische Kriegskorrespondent Ernie Pyle hat bisher 700.000 Worte über den Krieg gekabelt. Das hören wir von der amerikanischen Zeitschrift Life, die über Pyle sagt, er sei derjenige amerikanische Journalist, der die Empfindungen des einfachen Durchschnitts-amerikaners am besten mitfühle und am anschaulichsten wiedergebe.

Jetzt hat sich Pyle von der Kriegsberichterstattung zurückgezogen. An Bord eines Lazarettschiffes fährt er in die Staaten heim.

Was hat ihn bewogen, nicht noch weitere 700.000 Worte über den Krieg zu kabeln?

Pyle gibt eine Erklärung dafür. Er sagt:

Ich bin zu Ende. Meine geistige Ermüdung ist zu groß. Es sind Zuviel verwirrende, nachdenklich machende Eindrücke bei diesem Westfeldzug auf mich eingedrungen. Ich hatte das Gefühl, ich würde zusammenbrechen, wenn ich über diesen Krieg seit Beginn der Invasion noch einen weiteren Artikel schreiben sollte.

Dem Kriegsberichter Pyle scheint allesmögliche, aufgefallen zu sein bei diesem Westfeldzug des Generals Eisenhower. Darum ist er nachdenklich geworden. Er meint, es sei genug, wenn 700.000 Worte über diese Sache geschrieben worden sind.

Es ist eben vieles anders gekommen, als die nordamerikanischen Strategen, sich das gedacht hatten. Sie rechneten mit einem leichten Sieg, nun aber sehen sie sich gegen eine Mauer, die Feuer speit, anrennen.

The Pittsburgh Press (December 29, 1944)

Pyle satisfied with G.I. film

Hollywood, California (UP) –
Columnist Ernie Pyle, en route to the Western Pacific after a three-month respite from war coverage, seemed well-satisfied with the movie version of his bestseller, Here Is Your War.

“I really couldn’t tell much about it,” he said, after looking over preliminary “takes” of the film, The Story of G.I. Joe. “It was all in pieces, but it looked like they were trying to do it right.”

Pyle, who came home from the fighting in France for a rest, said he hadn’t had two hours to himself since he got back and actually wasn’t rested at all.

Most of his time, he admitted, was taken by “a thousand and one details,” and a heavy correspondence with G.I. friends overseas.

He read the complete manuscript of his latest book, Brave Men, for the first time a few days ago, he said, and noted in passing that 15 of the men mentioned in it have been killed.

“Fifteen that I’ve heard about, that is,” he added.

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The Pittsburgh Press (January 11, 1945)

Pyle gets no rest on front porch

San Francisco, California (UP) –
Ernie Pyle, columnist and war correspondent, said today that he was going to cover the Pacific War “not because I want to, but just because something inside me says I’ve got to.”

The 112-pound correspondent said that although friends think he looks very well, he was unable to rest during the three and a half months he spent at his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home after covering the war in Africa, Italy and France.

“It was no rest – not even a total of a half day sunning myself alone on the front porch,” Mr. Pyle said.

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Cadet nurse assumes role in Pyle’s movie

Hollywood, California (UP) –
Beulah Tyler, the girl whose face smiles from Cadet Nurse Corps recruitment posters, arrived from Alexandria, Virginia, today to play the role of an Army nurse in Story of G.I. Joe, the motion picture based on columnist Ernie Pyle’s book.

Miss Tyler, a junior cadet nurse at Alexandria Hospital school of nursing, and the only authentic nurse in the picture, was selected for her role by producer Lester Cowan.

She is using her vacation time to aid nurse recruitment by appearing in the film and plans to become a Navy nurse after graduation.

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