Thursday, December 18, 2014

1943. The Soviet Perspective on Japanese Imperialism

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Source: "Soldiers unloading LCPR and LCM type landing craft on the beach at Massacre Bay, Attu, on 12 May 1943." (US Naval Historical Center Photo #: 80-G-50848)"

The portions of this transcript in parenthesis were prohibited from broadcast by the Soviet censors.

Bill Downs


Saturday morning, June 19, 1943

The first comprehensive review of the war in the Pacific to be published in the Soviet Union was printed yesterday in the magazine of international affairs called "The War and the Working Class."

This article is written by one of Russia's leading experts on the Far East, a Doctor of Historical Sciences called Zhukov. The tone of this article is extremely interesting, and its conclusions very significant for the United States.

Doctor Zhukov starts by saying (that some people have been impressed by the "temporary" achievements of Japanese imperialism. He goes on to say that these achievements, while extensive, do not bear the weight of close examination -- Japan's early victories, according to this Soviet expert, are of "transient significance.")

(Today, Zhukov says,) the advantages which Japan gained by her perfidious blow have been liquidated, and "the offensive spirit of the Japanese has come to an end."

("In May, 1943, a serious reverse befell Japan," the Russian expert says. "In the Northern Pacific, American troops drove the Japanese out of Attu Island which, incidentally, the Japanese militarists prematurely gave a Japanese name.")*

He goes on: "At the present time Japan is observing with increasing alarm the general tendency of the development of military events. Japan everywhere is passing to the defense."

Zhukov then attacks the Japanese theory of "the Great Eastern Asiatic Sphere of Prosperity." Japanese plans, he pointed out, have since the war clearly shown that Japanese imperialism is aimed at expanding this sphere to India, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, and other countries. "The most zealous Japanese militarists had in their plans also the capture of the Far Eastern territories of the Soviet Union."

The Soviet professor concludes with the statement that Japan not only has paid a heavy price for her earlier successes in the Pacific, "but also has increased the military vulnerability of Japan herself."

This review of the war is not a statement of the Soviet government. However, published as it is in the official magazine of the Russian Trades Union Council, which is the only international publication in the Soviet Union, we cannot underestimate its importance.

(This article serves to emphasize the Soviet government's stand toward aggressors -- no matter who they might be. It's a stand that undoubtedly will have its effect in future events.)

* The Japanese changed the name of Attu Island to "Atsuta" after the shrine of the same name.

1965. The Space Age

Hope for the Future
Source: "U.S. Coast Guard Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard helicopter over the Gemini 3 space capsule flown by astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young after it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, 23 March 1965."

March 24, 1965


While the nation was cheering the successful recovery of astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young yesterday, the National Space Administration here in Washington announced the award of more than $2.5 million in space research grants to various colleges and universities across the country.

More than a million and a half dollars of this money is going into investigation and experimentation with what the interplanetary experts call "life support systems." That is, exploring ways of keeping future astronauts alive and operating on long-range probes into the unknown. This new scientific endeavor covers a multitude of things and is called "bioengineering."

The scientists want to know, for example, if it might be possible to establish some kind of greenhouse on some meteorite or space station to raise food for future explorers. Organic cosmo-chemistry, they call it.

And these far-out experts also are concerned about what weightlessness and cosmic rays will do to the shape and size of the future astronaut who might spend years on a space mission. They don't know whether man can live for long without some sort of gravity keeping his innards pulled into their proper place.

One of the main experiments performed in yesterday's Gemini flight was to fertilize the eggs of the sea urchin to see what the effects of weightlessness and controlled radiation has on these simple cell systems. Eventually these findings may be valuable in assessing the feasibility of possibly sending out colonies of men and women astronauts, maybe to continue our civilization on some other habitable planet in some universe.

Laughable? Maybe -- but our great grandfathers would have laughed too if told that continents could talk across oceans by bouncing radio signals against the sky; or that whole nations could erase tuberculosis and polio from their lands; that the horse and the mule would become technologically unemployed; or that man could transmit close-up electronic pictures of the moon -- live -- into millions of American living rooms, as many of us witnessed today.

The experience of our astronauts at Cape Kennedy and their pioneering cosmonaut contemporaries in Russia indicates that we must produce a new kind of man to match this newest and greatest challenge. In fact, the Gus Grissoms and John Youngs in the American space program are different from ordinary mortals when they enter their space capsules. They wear a second skin to guard against excessive G-forces. They breathe their own capsuled atmosphere inside their helmets; electronic contacts strapped on their skin measure their physical and sometimes their mental and emotional reactions to their flight. They are wired for sound, able to answer questions and radio their own instructions to listening posts around the world. Although they are the most isolated members of our society while in orbit -- at the same time, their myriad electronic connections with earth also make them the most public men of our time.

Now some scientists are talking privately of making up a pool of potential space explorers and training them from youth for adventures into the universe. Since we inoculate our young children to protect them from smallpox, and since we prescribe glasses to correct eye defects, these scientists say, "Why not insert a tiny radio transmitter unobtrusively under the skin to give constant reports to a parent or a doctor of a child's temperature, respiration, and even his brainwave reactions to stress, emotion, and other environmental influences?"

After all, people today are walking around with artificial valves in their hearts, with plastic veins in their legs -- and women, particularly, employ certain artificial aids to add or take a curve away here and there.

Personally, we don't care to have our own emotional responses transistorized, and our blood temperature and respiration remains our own business.

But we like our women shapely, no matter how they do it. We're looking forward to the first American lady astronaut. Cape Kennedy can take it from there.

This is Bill Downs, substituting for Edward P. Morgan, saying good night from Washington.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014. Richard C. Hottelet, 1917 - 2014

Richard C. Hottelet (1917 - 2014)

Richard C. Hottelet passed away this morning at age 97 at his home in Connecticut. He was a legendary journalist and the last surviving member of the Murrow Boys. Above is his seminal D-Day broadcast of his eyewitness account of H-Hour as he flew in a bomber over Utah Beach.

1943. Tragedy on the Steppe Front

The Steppe Front
Source: Red Army artillery reconnaissance unit in Voronezh on the Steppe Front

The portions of the transcript in parenthesis were censored from broadcast by Soviet officials. Downs expanded on this account in the September 20 Newsweek article "Harvest of Death."

Bill Downs


Saturday night, September 4, 1943

I have just returned from the Steppe Front, southwest of Kharkov, where Red Army troops are fighting their way forward toward the Dnieper river line.

Last night at midnight, after the foreign correspondents were brought back to a staff headquarters near the front, a supply officer grinned at us and said, "Congratulations. The Allies have landed in Italy." Later at dinner, there were toasts to the success of this operation. The landings in Italy were not toasted as a second front -- yet.

(After dinner, when we went to our billets, we told the good news to the orderly assigned to us. She was a buxom young girl named Katya. We said, "Katya, the Americans and British have landed in Italy.")

(Katya thought a minute and replied, "Is it a land front?" We assured her it was. Then she grinned and came back with a present of four bottles of water -- mineral water, which is just about the most valuable thing in Ukraine today. The Germans are doing a thorough job of earth burning, blowing up public services and contaminating wells with dead bodies.)

(So with Katya we toasted the first operations of the Allies on the continent of Europe and to the day when the Red Army joins the Allied forces in Berlin.)

(The officers and men I talked to on the Kharkov sector yesterday and today are happy at the news. But they are anxiously awaiting developments to see how this new front in Europe will help their drive to the west.)

But this good news was preceded by a personal tragedy to the entire foreign press corps. The assistant chief of the foreign office press department, Mikhail Vasiev, and an officer representing the Red Army general staff, were killed. These three men have accompanied us to the front on several occasions.

We were flown to Voronezh Wednesday where eight American jeeps picked us up. We drove over supply roads toward Belgorod for five hours through army traffic. When night came, we were warned against bombings by Nazi planes, so we formed a closed line and inched forward with only dim lights that couldn't be seen over a dozen feet or so. We were also warned that the road had been de-mined, but that the sides of the road had not.

I was in a jeep with David Nichol of the Chicago Daily News. We agreed that driving across the Ukrainian steppe at night was much like riding across the Atlantic in convoy. There's that same eerie feeling.

Occasionally one of the jeeps would wander out of line and the driver would switch on his lights. Twice when this happened, Red Army sentries fired warning shots. No one takes any chances.

We came to a little farm railroad called Maslova Pristan. Our convoy of jeeps stopped. An air raid had started someplace on the horizon. The ack-ack and bomb flashes lit up the skyline so brightly that it didn't seem real. If you saw it in the movies you would say it was too Hollywood; too overdone.

Mr. Vasiev, who was in charge of the party, walked along the line of cars and again warned of the danger. He was in the second car in the line. My jeep was the second car behind him. We started off again in the dark when there was a muffled explosion. The concussion blew the brim of my hat up. Then a few seconds later things started to drop around us.

The second jeep had run over an anti-tank mine. It was blown almost in two. The major, the censor, and Mr. Vasiev died shortly afterward.

We spent the night on the road awaiting instructions. At dawn a Red Army colonel took charge of the party.  We had been ordered to go to (General Ivan Konev's) the Steppe Front to do a job. That's where we went.

Three men died taking us to the front. At this front we saw battlefields where thousands of men died defeating the Axis. This and subsequent broadcasts were made at this cost. I hope my reports of what I heard and saw there will be worthy.

1965. The Catholic Church Adapts to the Modern World

Pope Paul VI Visits New York
Source: "Pope Paul VI celebrated the first pontifical Mass on U.S. soil at the Yankee Stadium on October 4, 1965."

October 4, 1965


I'm told that, back in the button-shoe days of our great grandfathers, the famed man-to-man talk that went with a young man's first pair of long trousers included a statement that went like this: "My boy, there are two things that a gentleman never discusses in public: one, his women; two, his religion."

It was an unwritten rule that never really stuck to any generation, particularly concerning religious belief where every man is his own expert on what every other man's faith really ought to be. Since the beginning of time, countless nations and millions of men have gone to war over religion -- a melancholy condition that still exists -- as witness the smouldering conflict between Israel and the Arab nations. And most recently, the bloody crisis over Kashmir, rooted in the ancient hatreds between Hindus and Moslems.

Thus there was a realistic basis for the unwritten gentleman's taboo on religious discussion, although it did little to engender understanding of the other fellow's point of view. And herein lies one of the salient points of the historic New York visit of Pope Paul VI. It has most of the US and the world not only talking about religion, but closely examining Roman Catholicism as a force for peace in the world. The Papal plea for world amity was an exercise in universal faith, as well as a warning of the nuclear mortality of modern man.

Pope Paul's appearance brought credit to his church and needed prestige to the United Nations. His welcome by the people of the United States added dignity to the nation. A generation ago -- or perhaps even less -- such an American reception for a Pope of Rome might have been impossible. After Herbert Hoover's Republican landslide overwhelmed Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith in 1928, the standard interpretation of that election was that Protestant America would never tolerate a Catholic in the White House. The standard political joke only 28 years ago was that, after the election, Al Smith sent a one-word telegram to the Vatican which said: "Unpack."

By the same token, a generation ago it would have been unthinkable for Pope Pius XI to expose himself to a world still wracked by the starvation and misery resulting from World War I. It was a secluded policy of the Church of Rome of the 1920s that the duty of the priests was to attend to the souls of Catholics, not their bodies. At the same time, in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan's secret membership grew to more than a million men, largely by expanding its Southern anti-Negro propaganda to attack Catholics and Jews of the North.

Many Catholic historians say that the failure of the Roman Curia to emerge from its Vatican shell after the first World War and face world realities was one of the causes for the rise of Benito Mussolini's fascism which, in turn, provided the reasons for the growth of Italy's Communists today into the largest Marxist organization in the Western World outside of the USSR.

As a non-Catholic correspondent in Rome for some three years I covered Vatican City during the closing years of the reign of Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII. At that time, Giovanni Montini was the Archbishop of Milan in the center of Italy's so-called "red belt" in the industrial north. After more than twenty years secluded in the service of the Vatican's foreign affairs office, the Archbishop found he had lost touch with the people. Anxious to establish himself as "the workers' Bishop," Montini was shocked when he heard himself booed in the factories. But he worked at his job -- organized his priests into brigades to give emergency aid to the poor. And by the time I left Italy a half dozen years or so ago, Archbishop Montini was the most respected Catholic leader in the "red belt," on the testimony of even the most anti-clerical unionists.

Thus the president Pope Paul was briefly part of the theological revolution in the Church -- one that is still going on. Briefly stated, follow the dictum of the respected Pope John XXIII, who urged his Cardinals to open the windows of Catholicism and let the Roman Church grow and change with the modern world through discussion and dissent.

While this policy debate raged quietly behind the walls of the Vatican at the end of the 1950s, Senator John Kennedy was making up his mind to run for the presidency; gambling that the world, the United States, and his own Catholic church had changed since the prohibition days of Al Smith and the Klan madness. President Kennedy won his political gamble, only to lose another in Dallas. But his election paved the way for today's New York pilgrimage by Pope Paul.

What will come of it? As the late Josef Stalin once pointed out, the Vatican State has no armored divisions, but there are 300 million Catholics around the world who attend his words of peace. And at the UN today there also were Moslems, Shintos, Buddhists, Hebrews, Protestants, Hindus, and other religions, plus a number of pagan sects including atheistic believers in that materialistic faith called Communism.

Perhaps, by international radio and TV, the Pope for a few hours today stirred perhaps a billion men's hearts and spirits toward the cause of peace. Who knows what might come of it?

This is Bill Downs, substituting for Edward P. Morgan, saying good night in Washington.

Friday, December 12, 2014

1944. "Voyage to Victory" by Ernest Hemingway

Voyage to Victory
Source: "American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) traveling with US soldiers, in his capacity as a war correspondent, on their way to Normandy for the D-Day landings, 1944." (Central Press/Getty Images)

From Collier's Weekly, July 22, 1944.


Collier's famed war correspondent watches, as our fighting men battle across the beaches of Normandy.

No one remembers the date of the Battle of Shiloh. But the day we took Fox Green beach was the sixth of June, and the wind was blowing hard out of the northwest. As we moved in toward land in the gray early light, the 36-foot coffin-shaped steel boats took solid green sheet of water that fell on the helmeted heads of the troops packed shoulder to shoulder in the stiff, awkward, uncomfortable, lonely companionship of men going to a battle. There were cases of TNT, with rubber tube life preservers wrapped around them to float them in the surf, stacked forward in the steel well of the LCV(P), and there were piles of bazookas and boxes of bazooka rockets encased in waterproof coverings that reminded you of the transparent raincoats college girls wear.

All this equipment, too, had the rubber tube life preservers strapped and tied on, and the men wore these same gray rubber tubes strapped under their armpits.

As the boat rose to a sea, the green water turned white and came slamming in over the men, the guns and the cases of explosives. Ahead you could see the coast of France. The gray booms and derrick-forested bulks of the attack transports were behind now, and, over all the sea, boats were crawling forward toward France.

As the LCV(P) rose to the crest of a wave, you saw the line of low, silhouetted cruisers and the two big battlewagons lying broad-side to the shore. You saw the heat-bright flashes of their guns and the brown smoke that pushed out against the wind and then blew away.

"What's your course, coxswain?" Lieutenant (jg) Robert Anderson of Roanoke, Virginia, shouted from the stern.

"Two-twenty, sir." the coxswain, Frank Currier of Saugus, Massachusetts, answered. He was a thin-faced, freckled boy with his eyes fixed on the compass.

"Then steer two-twenty, damn it!" Anderson said. "Don't steer all over the whole damn ocean!"

"I'm steering two-twenty, sir," the coxswain said patiently.

"Well, steer it, then," Andy said. He was nervous, but the boat crew, who were making their first landing under fire, knew this officer had taken LCV(P)s in to the African landing, Sicily and Salerno, and they had confidence in him.
"Don't steer into that LCT," Andy shouted, as we roared by the ugly steel hull of a tank landing craft, her vehicles sea-lashed, her troops huddling out of the spray.

"I'm steering two-twenty," the coxswain said.

"That doesn't mean you have to run into everything on the ocean," Andy said. He was a handsome, hollow-cheeked boy with a lot of style and a sort of easy petulance. "Mr. Hemingway, will you please see if you can see what that flag is over there, with your glasses?"

I got my old miniature Zeiss glasses out of an inside pocket, where they were wrapped in a woolen sock with some tissue to clean them, and focused them on the flag. I made the flag out just before a wave drenched the glasses.

"It's green."

"Then we are in the mine-swept channel," Andy said. "That's all right. Coxswain, what's the matter with you? Can't you steer two-twenty?"

I was trying to dry my glasses, but it was hopeless the way the spray was coming in, so I wrapped them up for a try later on and watched the battleship Texas shelling the shore. She was just off on our right now and firing over us as we moved in toward the French coast, which was showing clearer all the time on what was, or was not, a course of 220 degrees, depending on whether you believed Andy or Currier the coxswain.

The low cliffs were broken by valleys. There was a town with a church spire in one of them. There was a wood that came down to the sea. There was a house on the right of one of the beaches. On all the headlands, the gorse was burning, but the northwest wind held the smoke close to the ground.

Those of our troops who were not wax-gray with seasickness, fighting it off, trying to hold onto themselves before they had to grab for the steel side of the boat, were watching the Texas with looks of surprise and happiness. Under the steel helmets they looked like pikemen of the Middle Ages to whose aid in battle had suddenly come some strange and unbelievable monster.

There would be a flash like a blast furnace from the 14-inch guns of the Texas, that would lick far out from the ship. Then the yellow-brown smoke would cloud out and, with the smoke still rolling, the concussion and the report would hit us, jarring the men's helmets. It struck your near ear like a punch with a heavy, dry glove.

Then up on the green rise of a hill that now showed clearly as we moved in would spout two tall black fountains of earth and smoke.

That is the only thing I remember hearing a G.I. say all that morning. They spoke to one another sometimes, but you could not hear them with the roar the 225-horsepower high-speed gray Diesel made. Mostly, though, they stood silent without speaking.

I never saw anyone smile after we left the line of firing ships. They had seen the mysterious monster that was helping them, but now he was gone and they were alone again. I found if I kept my mouth open from the time I saw the guns flash until after the concussion, it took the shock away.

I was glad when we were inside and out of the line of fire of the Texas and the Arkansas. Other ships were firing over us all day and you were never away from the sudden, slapping thud of naval gunfire. But the big guns of the Texas and Arkansas that sounded as though they were throwing whole railway trains across the sky were far away as we moved on in. They were no part of our world as we moved steadily over the gray, whitecapped sea toward where, ahead of us, death was being issued in small, intimate, accurately administered packages. They were like the thunder of a storm that is passing in another county whose rain will never reach you. But they were knocking out the shore batteries, so that later the destroyers could move in almost to the shore when they had to come in to save the landing.

Invasion Coast Dead Ahead

Now ahead of us we could see the coast in complete detail. Andy opened the silhouette map with all the beaches and their distinguishing features reproduced on it, and I got my glasses out and commenced drying and wiping them under the shelter of the skirts of my burberry. As far as you could see, there were landing craft moving in over the gray sea. The sun was under at this time, and smoke was blowing all along the coast.

The map that Andy spread on his knees was in ten folded sheets, held together with staples, and marked Appendix One to Annex A. Five different sheets were stapled together and, as I watched Andy open his map, which spread, open, twice as long as a man could reach with outstretched arms, the wind caught it, and the section of the map showing Dog White, Fox Red, Fox Green, Dog Green, Easy Red and part of Sector Charlie snapped twice gaily in the wind and blew overboard.

I had studied this map and memorized most of it, but it is one thing to have it in your memory and another thing to see it actually on paper and be able to check and be sure.

"Have you got a small chart, Andy?" I shouted. "One of those one-sheet ones with just Fox Green and Easy Red?"

"Never had one," said Andy. All this time we were approaching the coast of France, which looked increasingly hostile.

"That the only chart?" I said, close to his ear.

"Only one," said Andy, "and it disintegrated on me. A wave hit it, and it disintegrated. What beach do you think we are opposite?"

"There's the church tower that looks like Colleville," I said. "That ought to be on Fox Green. Then there is a house like the one marked on Fox Green and the timber that runs down to the water in a straight line, like on Easy Red."
"That's right," said Andy. "But I think we're too far to the left."

"Those are the features, all right," I said. "I've got them in my head but there shouldn't be any cliffs. The cliffs start to The left of Fox Green where Fox Red beach starts. If that's true, then Fox Green has to be on our right."

"There's a control boat here somewhere," Andy said. "We'll find out what beach we're opposite."

"She can't be Fox Green if there are cliffs," I said.

"That's right," Andy said. "We'll find out from a control boat. Steer for that PC, coxswain. No, not there! Don't you see him? Get ahead of him. You'll never catch him that way."

We never did catch him, either. We slammed into the seas instead of topping them, and the boat pulled away from us. The LCV(P) was bow-heavy with the load of TNT and the weight of the three-eighth-inch steel armor, and where she should have lifted easily over the seas she banged into them and the water came in solidly.

"The hell with him!" Andy said. "We'll ask this LCI."

Landing Craft Infantry are the only amphibious operations craft that look as though they were made to go to sea. They very nearly have the lines of a ship, while the LCV(P)s look like iron bathtubs, and the LCTs like floating freight gondolas. Everywhere you could see, the ocean was covered with these craft but very few of them were headed toward shore. They would start toward the beach, then sheer off and circle back. On the beach itself, in from where we were, there were lines of what looked like tanks, but my glasses were still too wet to function.

"Where's Fox Green beach?" Andy cupped his hands and shouted up at the LCI that was surging past us, loaded with troops.

"Can't hear," someone shouted. We had no megaphone.

"What beach are we opposite?" Andy yelled.

The officer on the LCI shook his head. The other officers did not even look toward us. They were looking over their shoulders at the beach.

"Get her close alongside, coxswain," Andy said. "Come on, get in there close."

We roared up alongside the LCI, then cut down the motor as she slipped past us.

"Where's Fox Green beach?" Andy yelled, as the wind blew the words away.

"Straight in to your right," an officer shouted.

"Thanks." Andy looked astern at the other two boats and told Ed Banker, the signalman, "Get them to close up. Get them up."

Ed Banker turned around and jerked his forearm, with index finger raised, up and down. "They're closing up, sir," he said.

Looking back you could see the other heavily loaded boats climbing the waves that were green now the sun was out, and pounding down into the troughs.

"You wet all through, sir?" Ed asked me.

"All the way."

"Me, too," Ed said. "Only thing wasn't wet was my belly button. Now it's wet, too."

"This has got to be Fox Green," I said to Andy. "I recognize where the cliff stops. That's all Fox Green to the right. There is the Colleville church. There's the house on the beach. There's the Ruquet Valley on Easy Red to the right. This is Fox Green absolutely."

"We'll check when we get in closer," Andy said. "You really think it's Fox Green?"

"It has to be."

Ahead of us, the various landing craft were all acting in the same confusing manner—heading in, coming out and circling.

The Tanks Were Stymied

"There's something wrong as hell," I said to Andy. "See the tanks? They're all along the edge of the beach. They haven't gone in at all."

Just then one of the tanks flared up and started to burn with thick black smoke and yellow flame. Farther down the beach, another tank started burning. Along the line of the beach, they were crouched like big yellow toads along the high water line. As I stood up, watching, two more started to barn. The first ones were pouring out gray smoke now, and the wind was blowing it flat along the beach. As I stood up, trying to see if there was anyone in beyond the high water line of tanks, one of the burning tanks blew up with a flash in the streaming gray smoke.

"There's a boat we can check with," Andy said. "Coxswain, steer for that LC over there. Yes, that one. Put her hard over. Come on. Get over there!"

This was a black boat, fast-looking, mounting two machine guns and wallowing slowly out away from the beach, her engine almost idling.

"Can you tell us what beach this is?" Andy shouted.

"Dog White," came the answer.

"Are you sure?"

"Dog White beach," they called from the black boat.

"You checked it?" Andy called.
"It's Dog White beach," they called back from the boat, and their screw churned the water white as they slipped into speed and pulled away from us.

I was discouraged now, because ahead of us, inshore, was every landmark I had memorized on Fox Green and Easy Red beaches. The line of the cliffs that marked the left end of Fox Green beach showed clearly. Every house was where it should be. The steeple of the Colleville church showed exactly as it had in the silhouette. I had studied the charts, the silhouettes, the data on the obstacles in the water and the defenses all one morning, and I remember having asked our captain, Commander W. I. Leahy of the attack transport Dorothea M. Dix, if our attack was to be a diversion in force.

"No," he had said. "Absolutely not. What makes you ask that question?"

"Because these beaches are so highly defensible."

"The Army is going to clear the obstacles and the mines out in the first thirty minutes," Captain Leahy had told me. "They're going to cut lanes in through them for the landing craft."

I wish I could write the full story of what it means to take a transport across through a mine-swept channel; the mathematical precision of maneuver; the infinite detail and chronometrical accuracy and split-second timing of everything from the time the anchor comes up until the boats are lowered and away into the roaring, sea-churning assembly circle from which they break off into the attack wave.

The story of all the teamwork behind that has to be written, but to get all that in would take a book, and this is simply the account of how it was in a LCV(P) on the day we stormed Fox Green beach.

Right at this moment, no one seemed to know where Fox Green beach was. I was sure we were opposite it, but the patrol boat had said this was Dog White beach which should be 4,295 yards to our right, if we were where I knew we were.

"It can't be Dog White, Andy," I said. "Those are the cliffs where Fox Red starts on our left."

"The man says it's Dog White," Andy said.

In the solid-packed troops in the boat, a man with a vertical white bar painted on his helmet was looking at us and shaking his head. He had high cheekbones and a rather flat, puzzled face.

"The lieutenant says he knows it, and we're on Fox Green," Ed Banker shouted back at us. He spoke again to the lieutenant but we could not hear what they said.

Andy shouted at the lieutenant, and he nodded his helmeted head up and down.

"He says it's Fox Green," Andy said.

"Ask him where he wants to go in," I said.

Leading in the Seventh Wave

Just then another small black patrol boat with several officers in it came toward us from the beach, and an officer stood up in it and megaphoned, "Are there any boats here for the seventh wave on Fox Green beach?"

There was one boat for that wave with us, and the officer shouted to them to follow their boat.

"Is this Fox Green?" Andy called to them.
"Yes. Do you see that ruined house? Fox Green beach runs for eleven hundred and thirty-five yards to the right of that ruined house."

"Can you get into the beach?"

"I can't tell you that. You will have to ask a beach control boat."

"Can't we just run in?"

"I have no authority on that. You must ask the beach control boat."

"Where is it?"

"Way out there somewhere."

"We can go in where an LCV(P) has been in or an LCI," I said. "It's bound to be clear where they run in, and we can go in under the lee of one."

"We'll look for the control boat," Andy said, and we went banging out to sea through the swarming traffic of landing craft and lighters.

"I can't find her," Andy said. "She isn't here. She ought to be in closer. We have to get the hell in. We're late now. Let's go in."

"Ask him where he is supposed to land," I said.

Andy went down and talked to the lieutenant. I could see the lieutenant's lips moving as he spoke, but could hear nothing above the engine noise.

"He wants to run straight in for that ruined house," Andy said, when he came back.

We headed in for the beach. As we came in, running fast, the black patrol boat swung over toward us again.

"Did you find the control boat?" they megaphoned.


"What are you going to do?"
"We're going in," Andy yelled.
"Well, good luck to you fellows," the megaphone said. It came over, slow and solemn like an elegy. "Good luck to all of you fellows."
That included Thomas E. Nash, engineer, from Seattle with a good grin and two teeth out of it. It included Edward F. Banker, signalman, of Brooklyn, and Lacey T. Shiflet of Orange, Virginia, who would have been the gunner if we had had room for guns. It included Frank Currier, the coxswain, of Saugus, Massachusetts, and it included Andy and me. When we heard the lugubrious tone of that parting benediction we all knew how bad the beach really was.

As we came roaring in on the beach, I sat high on the stern to see what we were up against. I had the glasses dry now and I took a good look at the shore. The shore was coming toward us awfully fast, and in the glasses it was coming even faster.

On the beach on the left where there was no sheltering overhang of shingled bank, the first, second, third, fourth and fifth waves lay where they had fallen, looking like so many heavily laden bundles on the flat pebbly stretch between the sea and the first cover. To the right, there was an open stretch where the beach exit led up a wooded valley from the sea. It was here that the Germans hoped to get something very good, and later we saw them get it.

To the right of this, two tanks were burning on the crest of the beach, the smoke now gray after the first violent black and yellow billows. Coming in I had spotted two machine gun nests. One was firing intermittently from the ruins of the smashed house on the right of the small valley. The other was two hundred yards to the right and possibly four hundred yards in front of the beach.

The officer commanding the troops we were carrying had asked us to head directly for the beach opposite the ruined house.

"Right in there," he said. "That's where."

"Andy," I said, "that whole sector is enfiladed by machine gun fire. I just saw them open twice on that stranded boat."

Target for Machine Guns

An LCV(P) was slanted drunkenly in the stakes like a lost gray steel bathtub. They were firing at the water line, and the fire was kicking up sharp spurts of water.

"That's where he says he wants to go," Andy said. "So that's where we'll take him."

"It isn't any good," I said. "I've seen both those guns open up."

"That's where he wants to go," Andy said. "Put her ahead straight in." He turned astern and signaled to the other boats, jerking his arm, with its upraised finger, up and down.

"Come on, you guys," he said, inaudible in the roar of the motor that sounded like a plane taking off. "Close up! Close up! What's the matter with you? Close up, can't you? Take her straight in, coxswain!"

At this point, we entered the beaten zone from the two machine gun points, and I ducked my head under the sharp cracking that was going overhead. Then I dropped into the well in the stern sheets where the gunner would have been if we had any guns. The machine gun fire was throwing water all around the boat, and an antitank shell tossed up a jet of water over us.

The lieutenant was talking, but I couldn't hear what he said. Andy could hear him. He had his head down close to his lips.

"Get her the hell around and out of here, coxswain!" Andy called. "Get her out of here!"
As we swung round on our stem in a pivot and pulled out, the machine gun fire stopped. But individual sniping shots kept cracking over or spitting into the water around us. I'd got my head up again with some difficulty and was watching the shore.

"It wasn't cleared, either," Andy said. "You could see the mines on all those stakes."

"Let's coast along and find a good place to put them ashore," I said. "If we stay outside of the machine gun fire, I don't think they'll shoot at us with anything big because we're just as LCV(P), and they've got better targets than us."

"We'll look for a place," Andy said.

"What's he want now?" I said to Andy.

The lieutenant's lips were moving again. They moved very slowly and as though they had no connection with him or with his face.

Andy got down to listen to him. He came back into the stern. "He wants to go out to an LCI we passed that has his commanding officer on it."

"We can get him ashore farther up toward Easy Red," I said.

"He wants to see his commanding officer," Andy said. "Those people in that black boat were from his outfit."

Advice from a Wounded Ship

Out a way, rolling in the sea, was a Landing Craft Infantry, and as we came alongside of her I saw a ragged shellhole through the steel plates forward of her pilothouse where an 88-mm. German shell had punched through. Blood was dripping from the shiny edges of the hole into the sea with each roll of the LCI. Her rails and hull had been befouled by seasick men, and her dead were laid forward of her pilothouse. Our lieutenant had some conversation with another officer while we rose and fell in the surge alongside the black iron hull, and then we pulled away.

Andy went forward and talked to him, then came aft again, and we sat up on the stern and watched two destroyers coming along toward us from the eastern beaches, their guns pounding away at targets on the headlands and sloping fields behind the beaches.

"He says they don't want him to go in yet; to wait," Andy said. "Let's get out of the way of this destroyer."

"How long is he going to wait?"

"He says they have no business in there now. People that should have been ahead of them haven't gone in yet. They told him to wait."

"Let's get in where we can keep track of it," I said. "Take the glasses and look at that beach, but don't tell them forward what you see."

Andy looked. He handed the glasses back to me and shook his head.

"Let's cruise along it to the right and see how it is up at that end," I said. "I'm pretty sure we can get in there when he wants to get in. You're sure they told him he shouldn't go in?"

"That's what he says."

"Talk to him again and get it straight."

Andy came back. "He says they shouldn't go in now. They're supposed to clear the mines away, so the tanks can go, and he says nothing is in there to go yet. He says they told him it is all fouled up and to stay out yet a while."

The destroyer was firing point blank at the concrete pillbox that had fired at us on the first trip into the beach, and as the guns fired you heard the bursts and saw the earth jump almost at the same time as the empty brass cases clanged back onto the steel deck. The five-inch guns of the destroyer were smashing at the ruined house at the edge of the little valley where the other machine gun had fired from.

"Let's move in now that the can has gone by and see if we can't find a good place," Andy said.

"That can punched out what was holding them up there, and you can see some infantry working up that draw now," I said to Andy. "Here, take the glasses."

Slowly, laboriously, as though they were Atlas carrying the world on their shoulders, men were working up the valley on our right. They were not firing. They were just moving slowly up the valley like a tired pack train at the end of the day, going the other way from home.

"The infantry has pushed up to the top of the ridge at the end of that valley," I shouted to the lieutenant.

"They don't want us yet,"' he said. "They told me clear they didn't want us in yet."

"Let me take the glasses for Hemingway," Andy said. Then he handed them back. "In there, there's somebody signaling with a yellow flag, and there's a boat in there in trouble, it looks like. Coxswain, take her straight in."

We moved in toward the beach at full speed, and Ed Banker looked around and said, "Mr. Anderson, the other boats are coming, too."

"Get them back!" Andy said. "Get them back!"

Banker turned around and waved the boats away. He had difficulty making them understand, but finally the wide waves they were throwing subsided and they dropped astern.

"Did you get them back?" Andy asked, without looking away from the beach where we could see a half-sunken LCV(P) foundered in the mined stakes.

"Yes, sir," Ed Banker said.

An LCI was headed straight toward us, pulling away from the beach after having circled to go in. As it passed, a man shouted with a megaphone, "There are wounded on that boat and she is sinking."

"Can you get in to her?"

The only words we heard clearly from the megaphone as the wind snatched the voice away were "machine gun nest."

"Did they say there was or there wasn't a machine gun nest?" Andy said.

"I couldn't hear."

"Run alongside of her again, coxswain," he said. "Run close alongside."

"Did you say there was a machine gun nest?" he shouted.

An officer leaned over with the megaphone, "A machine gun nest has been firing on them. They are sinking."

"Take her straight in, coxswain," Andy said.

It was difficult to make our way through the stakes that had been sunk as obstructions, because there were contact mines fastened them, that looked like large double pie plates fastened face to face. They looked as though they had been spiked to the pilings and then assembled. They were the ugly, neutral gray-yellow color that almost everything is in war.

We did not know what other stakes with mines were under us, but the ones that we could see we fended off by hand and worked our way to the sinking boat.

It was not easy to bring on board the man who had been shot through the lower abdomen, because there was no room to let the ramp down the way we were jammed in the stakes with the cross sea.

I do not know why the Germans did not fire on us unless the destroyer had knocked the machine gun pillbox out. Or maybe they were waiting for us to blow up with the mines. Certainly the mines had been a great amount of trouble to lay and the Germans might well have wanted to see them work. We were in the range of the antitank gun that had fired on us before, and all the time we were maneuvering and working in the stakes I was waiting for it to fire.

As we lowered the ramp the first time, while we were crowded in against the other LCV(P), but before she sank, I saw three tanks coming along the beach, barely moving, they were advancing so slowly. The Germans let them cross the open space where the valley opened onto the beach, and it was absolutely flat with a perfect field of fire. Then I saw a little fountain of water jut up, just over and beyond the lead tank. Then smoke broke out of the leading tank on the side away from us, and I saw two men dive out of the turret and land on their hands and knees on the stones of the beach. They were close enough so that I could see their faces, but no more men came out as the tank started to blaze up and burn fiercely.

By then, we had the wounded man and the survivors on board, the ramp back up, and were feeling our way out through the stakes. As we cleared the last of the stakes, and Currier opened up the engine wide as we pulled out to sea, another tank was beginning to burn.

We took the wounded boy out to the destroyer. They hoisted him aboard it in one of those metal baskets and took on the survivors. Meantime, the destroyers had run in almost to the beach and were blowing every pillbox out of the ground with their five-inch guns. I saw a piece of German about three feet long with an arm on it sail high up into the air in the fountaining of one shellburst. It reminded me of a scene in Petroushka.

Landing on the Beach

The infantry had now worked up the valley on our left and had gone on over that ridge. There was no reason for anyone to stay out now. We ran in to a good spot we had picked on the beach and put our troops and their TNT and their bazookas and their lieutenant ashore, and that was that.

The Germans were still shooting with their antitank guns, shifting them around in the valley, holding their fire until they had a target they wanted. Their mortars were still laying a plunging fire along the beaches. They had left people behind to snipe at the beaches, and when we left, finally, all these people who were firing were evidently going to stay until dark at least.

The heavily loaded ducks that had formerly sunk in the waves on their way in were now making the beach steadily. The famous thirty-minute clearing of the channels through the mined obstacles was still a myth, and now, with the high tide, it was a tough trip in with the stakes submerged.

We had six craft missing, finally, out of the twenty-four LVC(P)s that went in from the Dix, but many of the crews could have been picked up and might be on other vessels. It had been a frontal assault in broad daylight, against a mined beach defended by all the obstacles military ingenuity could devise. The beach had been defended as stubbornly and as intelligently as any troops could defend it. But every boat from the Dix had landed her troops and cargo. No boat was lost through bad seamanship. All that were lost were lost by enemy action. And we had taken the beach.

There is much that I have not written. You could write for a week and not give everyone credit for what he did on a front of 1,135 yards. Real war is never like paper war, nor do accounts of it read much the way it looks. But if you want to know how it was in an LCV(P) on D-Day when we took Fox Green beach and Easy Red beach on the sixth of June, 1944, then this is as near as I can come to it.


While Mr. Hemingway was cabling this article, General Montgomery revealed in an interview that a German division was sent up to thicken the coastal defenses at the spot where Collier's correspondent landed. "We hit it right on the nose," Mr. Hemingway cabled.