This is the third in a series of reprinted Ernie Pyle articles, selected to
trace the growth of the friendship between Ernie and GI Joe. Ernie is on leave
for a rest.
NORTHERN IRELAND: I got my first sight of an American soldier on Irish soil whlle
riding on a train. Two soldiers got on at a little station and sat in the two
seats next to mlne.
Being slightly homesick already, I couldn't resist starting a conversation.
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"That town where the train just stopped," one said.
"I mean where in the States,' I said.
So one of them said Maine and the other Missouri.
"Have you been in the States?" the Maine boy asked.
I told him I had spent years there.
"It seems as if nearly everybody you meet over here has been in the States," he
I've been taken for a lot of things, but that's the first time anybody ever took
me for an Irishman.
THE MAINE BOY had some chewing gum, so he passed it around the compartment.
Across from us was a short, heavy woman with a strikingly beautiful little girl,
about 5. Each took a piece of gum. The little girl started sucking hers like a
We watched, entranced. Finally the mother told her to put it all in her mouth and
chew it. It was all so new to her that we couldn't take our eyes off her.
Suddenly the Maine boy yelled, "Don't you swallow that!" She had been on the
verge. Everybody laughed but the girl.
As we were pulllng into a station the large woman got up, put an arm around the
Maine boy's shoulder, half hugged him, and whispered in his ear that he was
welcome to Northern Ireland.
THE IRISH PEOPLE were a little standoffish at first, it seems, but they have
warmed up. They say the Americans got a bad name here before the troops arrived.
That was caused by the large contingent of civilian construction men who came
long ago to build camps and storehouses ahead of the troops. They made big money,
and they brawled and fought and caused trouble. The troops hid to live that down.
We sometines get the idea at home that all the troops do over here is drink and
pick up girls and go to dances. Actually, they are up early and work hard. In the
recent maneuvers many of them marched 32 miles in one day, and that was followed
with 25-mile marches the next two days.
They were on the go for eight days. They slept on the ground wherever they
stopped, regardless of the weather. Often they wouldn't bivouac until midnight,
and by 2 a.m. they would be up and going again.
Some of the boys were toughened and ready for it. Others such as cooks and
clerks, were soft but had to take the gaff with the rest. When great blisters
developed on their feet they were just taped up, and the men marched on. They
were sort of proud of their bandages.
ONE TANK COMPANY that had been on the move all night suddenly came upon a group
of Nissen huts, about 6 a.m. This camp wasn't on their maps, so they figured they
had stumbled on a surprise package to capture. Some was coming out of the
chimneys, and not a soul was on guard. It was a pushover.
The tanks were stopped. The commander picked his toughest-looking men, and each
took a Tommy gun. They surrounded the camp, two men covering each door of every
hut. Then at a signal they stormed the doors and rushed in, guns leveled.
And what did they find? They found several hundred ATS girls, just getting out of
For once at least American troops didn't retire in an orderly manner to a
prepared position. They just got out of there, head over heels.