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Samples from the columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle
Samples from the columns of journalist Ernie Pyle
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November 23, 1942



It was a great feeling as I staggered up the gangway to the ship with my sea bag in one hand and the mattress cover loaded with blankets, mattresses, etc. , over my shoulder. At last I have a home -- and a warship at that.

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January 26 1943

New Hebrides



Last night they said we were about 2-1/2 hours from the Jap fleet but let them come. I came out here to see action and I hope this is the biggest battle of all time and it is also an honor to be on the flagship so I think this baby will give a good account of itself. Most of the crew would rather keep on going and see action than go back to the States. As for me, I would not trade me place with anyone back in the states. I...do not know how I will feel when we run into action, but right now I feel in the pink of condition and don't care how many Japs I run into.
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June 30 1943



The Solomons are over five hundred miles long and most of the islands are Jap-held fortresses. We call this going up the Slot. It is like going up an alley at night in the tough sections of any city... We will be away up in the Solomons; (attacking) the Shortlands south of Bougainville, the largest of the Solomons...While we are hitting the Japs up here... the Army and Marine Raiders will be landing, about 100 miles south of us on the island of Rendova and New Georgia...Our job will be to bombard the Japs on shore and prevent Jap subs and warships from attacking our transports, minelayers and troops...Our bombardment will take place in darkness as usual right in the Japs' backyard. It will be a bad place to get hit because if you land in the water the sharks will get you, and if you land on one of the islands the Japs will get you and of course that means torture and death.
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July 15 1943



A big LST pulled alongside today...[with] close to 300 wounded troops from Munda...A lot of the wounded were cut very badly by Japanese knives. Many had to be strapped down because they were insane, they were given something to make them sleep. They said our troops go for days with very little sleep. They live in foxholes and when they get wounded...cut their clothes off to bind their wounds...Fighting the Japs is like fighting a wild animal. the troops said the Jap is not afraid to die, it is an honor to die for the Emperor, he is their God. A lot of the fighting is done at night and you can smell the Japs 25 yards away... The Japs watch from coconut trees in the daytime and then when it becomes dark they sneak into your foxhole and cut your throat or throw in a hand grenade...The Japs take all kinds of chances, they love to die. Our troops are advancing very slowly. It is a savage campaign...You also hear all sorts of noises made by animals and you think it is the Japs. This is too much for some men and they crack up.
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October 19, 1943

Sidney, Australia



It was quite a feeling to be back in civilization for the first time in almost a year. It was just as if we were coming home. A feeling came over us that we could not explain. It seemed like paradise... This was the first time in over 10 months for some of the men to leave the ship and put their feet on land...



When you leave the ship you go through a beautiful park to get to the business section of Sidney... The first thing that catches your eye are all the beautiful girls. The place is full of them. There are supposed to be 5 girls to every man but I think there are even more than that. Everyone is so friendly down here. I never saw such friendly people. The girls in the states could really learn something from the girls here. They treat you as if you were related and invite you home to meet the family...



We did not like to leave. When you know it's your last night in civilization you could walk on the soil all night, and just breathe the fresh air. It feels so good. You know it will be some time before you put your feet on anything like this again...It is an experience you will never forget. You will put Australia down as the best liberty port in the world.

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November 10 1943



This afternoon, while we were south of Bougainville...we came across a raft with four live Japs in it...As the destroyer Spence came close to the raft, the Japs opened up with a machine gun at the destroyer. The Jap officer then put the gun in each man's mouth and fired, blowing out the back of each man's skull. One of the Japs did not want to die for the Emperor and put up a struggle. The others held him down. The officer was the last to die. He also blew his brains out. The Spence went in to investigate. All the bodies had disappeared into the water. There was nothing left but blood and an empty raft. Swarms of sharks were everywhere. The sharks ate well today...We went to battle stations...and at 10PM we were attacked by enemy planes...Later darkness descended and the rains came.

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May 14 1944



A destroyer pulled alongside and I spent some time talking to the crew on board. They took part in the Gilberts Campaign when the Marines landed on bloody Tarawa. One of the Marines was holding his stomach in his hands and it was not long before he died. The leg of another Marine was held together by a single thread of flesh. It was later amputated. One had a bullet through his eye and was lodged in his beck. He was holding a pad over it to stop the flow of blood. He died shortly after. Another had his knee blown wide open. Part of the leg had to be cut off. Many boarded the destroyer blind. They were all doped to help combat the pain. The Marines were mowed down like grass. Blood covered the ship in all corners as Tarawa was considered one of the bloodiest in the history of the Corps. The Japanese thought Tarawa was impregnable. The Marines, paying for every inch taken in dead and wounded, secured the bloody atoll...Went out tonight at 6 PM for gunnery practice. We are having all this practice so there will not be another Tarawa.

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June 13, 1944



In about 14 hours now, we will start bombarding Saipan. We are only about 1200 miles from Tokyo. I guess I will go down and buy some candy. The candy has been our old stand-by when we have nothing to eat at battle stations, for long hours.
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Sunday, June 18, 1944:



Off Saipan. All hands got up at 4:45 A.M. I had a swell sleep last night even if it was only for about six hours. We had church service topside this morning, even though we are so close to Japan, and the Jap fleet might be close by.

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June 20 1944 "“ Battle of the Mariannas



At 4 PM this afternoon we got the good news we have been waiting for, they finally know where the Jap fleet is, they said it's heading for the Philippines. Our carrier planes picked them up this afternoon, everyone was glad to hear this. The Jap fleet is running away from us and heading to their base. We picked up speed and are after them. This news has put new life into the men. It is getting late and our only hope of doing any damage to them is to send our planes after them. Some of the men on this mission will not return, the Japs will give them a hot reception. It was 4:30PM when our [300] planes took off...The time dragged as we waiting to hear from our pilots, everyone kept his fingers crossed, hoping for the best. It was like waiting in the death house for a pardon, and then it happened.



About 6:50PM word came that our pilots had caught up with the Jap navy and it said three carriers were damaged...at  about 9PM tonight our planes were returning. It was dark and they would have a tough job landing on the carriers... they were low on fuel and some were damaged,  many had to make forced landings in the water. Then something never done before in war time happened, all the ships in this huge fleet put their lights on, and flares were dropped into the water... This would make it easier for our pilots to land, and if they did hit the water, they could be saved......The Japs would never do anything like this.
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July 3 1944



It will be quite a treat for us when we return home and go to sleep in a bed with nothing to spoil our sleep. It is just the little things in life that you look forward to when you go home. When you had them you thought nothing of them, you took them for granted. Now you look forward to meeting your family and friends, being able to go the corner store and get the morning paper, and read your favorite topics, or visit the drugstore for a big ice cream soda, looking at buildings and going to the Parish Church, and the local theater. Eating plenty of good food. You want to be free again and do what you want to do and go where you want to go, without someone always ordering you around.
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July 4 1944



The Press News said that in the first couple of weeks, over 6500 Japs were killed. There is a very strong odor from the beach. It smells like burnt flesh...Today is the 4th of July and a good way to celebrate it is by killing Japs... We will fire all day again. Whenever I hear some of the fellows complain about how tough it is, I tell them that if they were on that beach with our troops it would be a lot tougher, that usually shuts them up.
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July 10 1944

When the Jap General in command killed himself, the Japs were disorganized and did not know what to do. A lot of them left their guns when it was almost over, the Japs were jumping off the high cliffs committing suicide, rather than be captured, hundreds of them landed in the water. Our destroyers tried to pick them up but they refused. Our ships then opened up on them, and they were dying like rats.
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July 13 1944



Today the water was full of Jap bodies, you could see them floating by, men , women, and children. The north section was loaded with floating bodies...We went out on patrol again tonight as usual, and almost ran over a lot of Japs. One Jap was floating face up and he had a goatee, an arm also floated by. I never saw anything like it for bodies floating around. The water is full of them, the fish will eat good...


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Sunday, July 16, 1944



It was a warm sunny day although it rained a little during church services. It was the first time I ever went to church services and saw dead bodies floating by. It is nothing to see men, women and children floating. There must be thousands of Japs in the waters near Saipan. The ships just run over them.

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July 18 1944



This afternoon...we were talking to...one of the Marines...[who fought in Saipan.] The Japs had a lot of those big giant Imperial Marines on Saipan, and they were very hard to kill. They had a great habit of making believe they were dead and when you turned your back on them they would attack you , they would also sneak back to their own lines at night. The Marine I was talking to was bent over a big Jap going through the Jap's pockets, he thought the Jap was dead, but noticed his stomach move a little. He reached for his gun and shot the Jap in the head, he was still moving around, so he finished he Jap off by shooting him in the heart. One Marine liked to pull gold teeth from dead Japs. He had 17 of them. The last one he got on Saipan, the Jap was only wounded, while he was pulling the gold tooth the Jap was still moving his hands.
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November 27 1944



At 10:50AM this morning, General Quarters sounded, all hands went to their battle stations...General Quarters has an awful loud frightening sound, it has trouble written all over it. It is enough to put the fear of the Lord in you... It was not long after that when a force of about 30 Jap planes attacked us.

 

It is a tough job to hold back this tidal wave of suicide planes. They come at you from all directions and also straight down at us at a very fast pace and come of the men have time for a few fast jokes, "This would be a great time to run out of ammunition. "This is mass suicide at its best." ...How long will our luck hold out?...

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November 27 1944



Planes were falling all around us, bombs were coming too close for comfort. The Jap planes were cutting up the water with machine gun fire. All the guns on the ship were blazing away, talk about action, never a dull moment. The fellows were passing ammunition like lightening as the guns were turning in all directions spitting out hot steel. Parts of destroyed suicide planes were scattered all over the ship. During a lull in the action, the men would look around for Jap souvenirs...I got part of the plane. The deck near my [machine gun] mount was covered with blood, guts, brains, tongues, scalps, hearts, arms, etc., from the Jap pilots. One of the Marines cut the ring off the finger of one of the dead pilots. They had to put the hose on to wash the blood off the deck. The deck ran with blood. The Japs were spattered all over the place. One of the fellows had a Jap scalp, it looked just like you skinned an animal...



I picked up a... pie plate with a tongue on it. It The pilot's tooth mark was into it very deep. It was very big and long, it looked like part of his tonsils and throat were attached to it. It also looked like the tongue you buy in the meat store This was the first time I ever saw a person's brains, what a mess. One of the men on our mount got a Jap rib and cleaned it up, he said his sister wants part of a Jap body...The Jap bodies were blown into all sorts of pieces.



These suicide or kamikaze pilots wanted to destroy us, our ships, and themselves. This gives you an idea of what kind of enemy we are fighting.

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February 21 1945 "“ Subic Bay



The supply ship [that brought us food] had a group of various servicemen who were captured by the Japanese in l942, and have been prisoners for all of these years. Many of them were wounded and all had white hair. They were nothing but "bags of bones." Their arms were like toothpicks. Some were very young, but looked much older than their years. All were very weak. Now, they can have all the food they want. One of the fellows gained 50 pounds in two weeks. Most of them have a faraway look in their eyes. They must have gone through hell under the Jap treatment...One of the men who had spent 36 months under the Japs on Corregidor said that...the only food given them was a bag of rice and a little warm water. Whenever they took sick, no help was given to them by the Japs. They either became better or they died. At least 60% of the prisoners died in captivity....The Press News reported that the 4th and 5th Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

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March 2 1945 - Subic Bay



No news. Had recreation today. I saw 10 nurses on the beach. It was the first time we ever saw anything like that since leaving the states.
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August 10 1945



We are still at Okinawa...At 8:50PM Captain Gorry spoke to the crew. He said that Japan would agree to our terms but wanted to keep the Emperor. They do not want anything to happen to him. When the Captain finished speaking, everyone gave a big cheer. Some of the men were whistling and yelling. There was plenty of rejoicing. Everyone went wild. Right after the men on Okinawa were informed of the news, we could hear guns firing, flares of all colors and star shells lit the sky... They went wild over there. Some of the ships here fired heir guns and others blew their foghorns. It was quite a celebration. This was the happiest day of our lives. Everyone on the ship was having a great time. We did not have much sleep but we did not care.
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October 22 1945



During our two month stay in Japan, we visited many places and met many Japanese. The most famous place we visited was Hiroshima. We were one of the first to see the extensive damage caused by the atomic bomb... When we saw Hiroshima, a city of approximately half a million people, it was deserted except for a few people walking through with white cloths over their nose and mouths. I will never forget what I saw there. You have to see it. I cannot explain it. A few frames of buildings were the only thing that was left standing. Everything was ground to dust... We passed a mother nursing her baby in the cellar of a destroyed house. She did not pay any attention to us as she sat there in the dust. Her whole family might have been wiped out and both of them might die later from the effects of the bomb. We felt very sorry for them. The only thing they owned was the clothes on their backs, and that was not much. We saw a few stumps of trees that were barren. They were completely black from burning. The trolley cars were blown off their tracks. Only they did not look like trolley cars anymore. They were completely destroyed. I could just see pieces of them. ..Everything was reduced to a lot of rubble...The enormous buildings with walls over a foot thick were all in small chunks...As far as the eye could see there was nothing but destruction. The force from one of these bombs is fantastic. There is only one defense against the bomb, prevent it from falling.



The Japanese people are honest, hard working people who were bluffed along by their cruel leaders. They were helpless to do anything about it. It was the Military Men. Their greed for power brought destruction down upon Japan. If they let the people run the government it will be in good hands. The Japanese people are no different from the people in any other part of the world. The people all over the world are good. It's the leaders who are to blame.
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December 18 1945



We docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Most of the crew left the ship for their home towns and in a few days they would be civilians again. Before we departed there were plenty of handshakes and goodbyes. We would not see the old gang anymore. We would be carrying memories of the many friends we met and the places we visited for the rest of our lives. When I look back over the years I spent in the Pacific, it seems like a dream.