ON CHERBOURG PENINSULA: Just a column, of little items -
The other day a friend and I were in a mid-peninsula town not many miles from
Cherbourg and we stopped to ask a couple of young French policemen wearing dark
blue uniforms and Sam Brown belts where to go to buy a certain article.
Being quite hospitable, they jumped in the car and went along to show us. After
we had finished our buying we all got back in the car. We tried to ask the
policemen where they were going. They in turn asked us where we were going.
Knowing it was hopeless in our limited French to explain that we were going to
our camp up the road, we merely said Cherbourg, meaning our camp was in that
But the Frenchmen thought we meant to drive right into Cherbourg, which was still
in German hands. Quick as a flash they jumped up, hit the driver on the shoulder
to get the car stopped, shook hands rapidly all around, saluted, and scurried out
with a terrified "au revoir." None of that Cherbourg stuff for those boys.
SOME GERMAN OFFICERS are pleased at being captured, but your died-in-the-wool
Nazi is not. They brought in a young one the other day who was furious. He
considered it thoroughly unethical that we fought so hard.
The Americans had attacked all night, and the Germans don't like night attacks.
When this special fellow was brought in he protested in rage.
"You Americans! The way you fight! This is not war! This is madness!"
The German was so outraged he never even got the irony of his own remarks ‹ that
madness though it be, it works.
ANOTHER HIGH-RANKING officer was brought in and the first thing he asked was the
whereabouts of his personal orderly. When told that his orderly was deader than a
mackerel, he flew off the handle and accused us of depriving him of his personal
"Who's going to dig my foxhole for me?" he demanded.
You remember that in the early days of the Invasion a whole bevy of high-ranking
Allied officers came to visit us - Gens. Marshall, Eisenhower and Arnold, Adms.
King and Ramsey - there was so much brass you just bumped two-star generals
without even begging pardon.
NOW GENERALS, it seems, like to be brave. Or I should say that, being generals,
they know they must appear to be brave in order to set an example. Consequently,
a high-ranking general never ducks or bats an eye when a shell hits near him.
Well, the military police charged with canducting this glittering array of
generals around our beachhead tried to get them to ride in armored cars, since
the country was still full of snipers.
But, being generals, they said no, certainly not, no armored cars for us, we'll
just go in open command cars like anybody else. And that's the way they did go.
But what the generals didn't know was this: Taking no chances on such a
collection of talent, the M.P.'s hid armored cars and tanks all along their
route, behind hedges and under bushes, out of sight so that the generals couldn't
see them, but were there ready for action just in case anything did happen.
"THE MOST WRECKED tovn I have seen so far is Saint Sauveur le Vicomte, known
simply as "San Sah-Vure." Its buildings are gutted and leaning, its streets
choked with rubble, and vehicles drive over the top of it.
Bombing and shellfire from both sides did it. The place looks exactly like World
War I pictures of such places as Verdun. At the edge of town the bomb craters are
so immense that you could put whole houses in them.
A veteran of the last war pretty well summed up the two wars the other day when
"This is just like the last war, only the holes are bigger"
SO AS FAR AS I KNOW, we have entered France without anybody making a historic
remark about it. Last time, you know, it was "Lafayette, we are here."
The nearest I have heard to a historic remark was made by an ack-ack gunner,
sitting on a mound of earth about two weeks after D-Day, reading the Stars and
Stripes from London. All of a sudden he said:
"Say, where's this Normandy beachhead it talks about in here?"
I looked at him closely and saw that he was serious, so I said:
"Why, you're sitting on it."
And he said:
"Well, I'll be damned. I never knowed that."