Skip to comments.A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish
Posted on 06/06/2017 4:39:52 AM PDT by MNJohnnie
NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 17, 1944 In the preceding column we told about the D-day wreckage among our machines of war that were expended in taking one of the Normandy beaches.
But there is another and more human litter. It extends in a thin little line, just like a high-water mark, for miles along the beach. This is the strewn personal gear, gear that will never be needed again, of those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.
Here in a jumbled row for mile on mile are soldiers packs. Here are socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles and hand grenades. Here are the latest letters from home, with the address on each one neatly razored out one of the security precautions enforced before the boys embarked.
Here are toothbrushes and razors, and snapshots of families back home staring up at you from the sand. Here are pocketbooks, metal mirrors, extra trousers, and bloody, abandoned shoes. Here are broken-handled shovels, and portable radios smashed almost beyond recognition, and mine detectors twisted and ruined.
Here are torn pistol belts and canvas water buckets, first-aid kits and jumbled heaps of lifebelts. I picked up a pocket Bible with a soldiers name in it, and put it in my jacket. I carried it half a mile or so and then put it back down on the beach. I dont know why I picked it up, or why I put it back down.
Soldiers carry strange things ashore with them. In every invasion youll find at least one soldier hitting the beach at H-hour with a banjo slung over his shoulder. The most ironic piece of equipment marking our beach this beach of first despair, then victory is a tennis racket that some soldier had brought along. It lies lonesomely on the sand, clamped in its rack, not a string broken.
Two of the most dominant items in the beach refuse are cigarets and writing paper. Each soldier was issued a carton of cigarets just before he started. Today these cartons by the thousand, water-soaked and spilled out, mark the line of our first savage blow.
Writing paper and air-mail envelopes come second. The boys had intended to do a lot of writing in France. Letters that would have filled those blank, abandoned pages.
Always there are dogs in every invasion. There is a dog still on the beach today, still pitifully looking for his masters.
He stays at the waters edge, near a boat that lies twisted and half sunk at the water line. He barks appealingly to every soldier who approaches, trots eagerly along with him for a few feet, and then, sensing himself unwanted in all this haste, runs back to wait in vain for his own people at his own empty boat.
Over and around this long thin line of personal anguish, fresh men today are rushing vast supplies to keep our armies pushing on into France. Other squads of men pick amidst the wreckage to salvage ammunition and equipment that are still usable.
Men worked and slept on the beach for days before the last D-day victim was taken away for burial.
I stepped over the form of one youngster whom I thought dead. But when I looked down I saw he was only sleeping. He was very young, and very tired. He lay on one elbow, his hand suspended in the air about six inches from the ground. And in the palm of his hand he held a large, smooth rock.
I stood and looked at him a long time. He seemed in his sleep to hold that rock lovingly, as though it were his last link with a vanishing world. I have no idea at all why he went to sleep with the rock in his hand, or what kept him from dropping it once he was asleep. It was just one of those little things without explanation that a person remembers for a long time.
The strong, swirling tides of the Normandy coastline shift the contours of the sandy beach as they move in and out. They carry soldiers bodies out to sea, and later they return them. They cover the corpses of heroes with sand, and then in their whims they uncover them.
As I plowed out over the wet sand of the beach on that first day ashore, I walked around what seemed to be a couple of pieces of driftwood sticking out of the sand. But they werent driftwood.
They were a soldiers two feet. He was completely covered by the shifting sands except for his feet. The toes of his GI shoes pointed toward the land he had come so far to see, and which he saw so briefly.
It would be hard to forget this if you saw it. Some one I know was at the towers after 9/11. He said he would never forget the smells.
President Trump spoke of this: the smell of death that permeated the air.
The Musloid seditionist would call it the smell of victory...
Such a sad remembrance. I worked with a man for years who had mesh holding his guts in where they had been shot out by a German machine gun. He was in the first wave that day. I had a patient in the 80s who had a terrible scar over his voice box and terribly hoarse voice. When I asked him what had happened he said he had gotten a battlefield promotion to 2nd Lt in the hedgerows 2 days earlier. The Cpt insisted his LTs wear their brass insignia “so when I come up I can find you”. The German snipers aimed for the brass...
So many lives cut short and forever altered. Such sacrifice can not be forgotten.
When the evil grows large and strong enough to swallow up the good it is time to fight against that hate filled tide to the last dying breath.
And these men did.
Today we have Millennials named “Reality,” an ex-President named “Hussein” who, in league with a vile, corrupt “Press,” seeks our destruction.
There needs to be another “D-Day.” Right here in River City, folks.
Ernie Pyle kept at it until he joined the heroes he wrote about. It happened during the battle for Okinawa. Killed by a snipers bullet if I recall correctly.
Oh, and thanks to MNJohnnie for bringing Ernie back. Maybe we need more Ernie as a stark reminder of what could lie ahead if Goodness, Truth, Justice, and mercy fail to reign supreme.
‘Today we have Millennials named Reality, an ex-President named Hussein who, in league with a vile, corrupt Press, seeks our destruction.”
“There needs to be another D-Day. Right here in River City, folks.”
Amen, brother. And I’ve been ready and waiting for that day for a long time.
This is the first time I’ve read any of Pyle’s dispatches. He is a great writer. Very poignant. Even reading it today brings tears to the eyes. Thanks for posting this.
Sad but the truth stands alone.