Ernie Pyle

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[Tuttle wound up back in a sick bed, but had a kindred spirit for a ward mate.]

I had to give in and admit it – I was sick. Whatever I had caught which put me on a hospital ship a couple weeks ago never quite went away. I had shied away from tough living since then, never feeling quite up to it, but finally the bug caught up with me again.

Field hospitals were very busy this time, and they wanted to send me far back, even off the island again. This time I begged to stay close to the front. They compromised by shuttling me eastward over to where the land based facilities weren’t so busy with broken fighting men.

It was a jarring ride, even though our engineers have improved roads in the center of the island appreciably. A splitting headache, dry cough, and rumbling gut can turn the smoothest road into rough seas. I woke up miserable this morning on what I’m sure a healthy man would consider a comfortable bed, in the 40th Infantry Division primary hospital.

My roommate was feeling much better than I was. He had been there two days before me and was well over the bug that had laid him down. Master Sergeant Harold Elliot whiled away much of the afternoon telling me stories from Dodge City, Kansas. I wondered how a patch of table-flat farm land could hold many good stories, but Sergeant Elliot was good teller of tales. I didn’t mind his monologue one bit.

Finally he asked, “Don’t you ever get sick of it? Tired of writing the same story every time?” He hit a nerve. It was exactly what I’d been brooding over for days.

After every pitched battle I had to come up with a new way to say, ‘Things were destroyed. Men are dead.’ I had been at it for years. It seemed important, telling people what an awful spectacle I had seen. But somehow I still had to entertain them. I had to keep readers from becoming as numb as me and turning away from it all.

Sergeant Elliot perked up and leaned over closer at my account. “That’s exactly what I mean! I wanted to hear it from a civilian.” He confessed to me as a new found kindred spirit. “Honestly, there’s no solid reason for me to be laid up back here. I’ve been a lot sicker than this and stayed out on the line with my boys.”

He sat back against the metal headboard again and looked around the room, as if to make sure it was still just the two of us. “I’m just tired, sick and tired of it all.

Personally, I could get out there and fight forever, out on the line. In fact I was sure this was a job you just do until you get killed, no exceptions. But since they gave me those fifth and sixth stripes,” he pointed at his hanging service jacket, “all I do is feed good men into this… into that machine out there. It adds them up, spits some back out, and nobody knows how it decides.”

“And so what? So goddamned what?? These mountains, they don’t care. They’ll be here long after all of us. The ocean? It could swallow us all and not notice. Even the cities we think we destroyed, they’ll all come back. They won’t care one whit that their old people are dead, and if the new people are a slightly different color.”

The old master sergeant about had me convinced to resign, to give up and buy a struggling grape orchard somewhere. Since I didn’t have enough saved up to do that I continued the argument. We talked until well past the second lights out scolding from the floor nurse.

There was never a doubt that the sergeant would return to ‘his boys.’ He was part of the best chance they had to accomplish something, however indifferent the mountain might be to it, and to get back home alive. It mattered because they mattered.

We were people. Ultimately all we could worry about was people . The ambivalence of the birds we would have to live with, however many of us lived to hear them sing again back home.

I was suddenly impatient to leave my sick bed again. It felt like me getting out to witness things would help them along, just a little bit faster.

Yesterday a sand snake crawled by just outside my tent door, and for the first time in my life I looked upon a snake not with a creeping phobia but with a sudden and surprising feeling of compassion. Somehow I pitied him, because he was a snake instead of man. And I don’t know why I felt that way, for I pity for all men too, because they are men.

– Ernie Pyle, June, 1943

Ernie Pyle with front line dog

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[Tuttle shuttled over to visit another island off Okinawa while everyone else packed up for the impending invasion.]

I wanted to visit Ie Shima for a particular, perhaps peculiar, reason. It is a small island with a small mountain and a small airfield, which the Army took with some cost, and many more Japanese died defending it. The same can be said now for many dozens of small islands in the Pacific. Ernie Pyle died here.

If you are reading this column you are probably aware of Ernie Pyle’s enormous legacy. If you are reading this column instead of his, you probably also miss him. I read that Pyle was read in over 700 newspapers by 40 million people. I’ve no way of researching the point right now, but I can’t imagine a writer in the past has ever had so wide a circulation or readership. This was at a time when newspapers may be just past their peak of power, as newsreels and radio broadcasts are taking a growing share of attention. Pyle may go down as the most widely read reporter and one of the most influential men of his day. Pyle would have wanted nothing to do with any such power.

Pyle made his name by learning about everyday Americans and sharing their stories. Tire treads and shoe leather were never spared as he criss-crossed the continent finding the big little stories that make us up. There was really nothing different about doing that on other war-infested continents. The subjects were living in the ground and getting shot at, but they were living just the same, each with an American story to share.

If you’ve ever felt empathy for a dirty cold soldier 5000 miles away, where you could really feel the chill in your bones as you reflexively scrunch your own shoulders to shrink down into a hole in the earth to hide from exploding artillery shells, it was probably because of Ernie Pyle. If you’ve felt the anxiety of an air base ground crew counting their damaged planes coming back from a raid, and the empty gut that comes when the count is short, it was probably because of Ernie Pyle.

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Today we conclude this series of specific references behind the details in X-Day: Japan. These are not formal citations, as they are not all root sources and the book is not an academic volume. The use of real historical elements for X-Day: Japan serves to educate the reader about the time, add interest to the story, and honestly it just made the thing easier to write!

November 23, 1945
Jumbo air-to-ground rocket,
airandspace.si.edu

November 27, 1945
1st Cavalry Division,
first-team.us

December 3, 1945
M29 Weasel,
m29cweasel.com

December 8, 1945
M26 Pershing tank next to M4 Sherman tank (models),
warbird-photos.com

December 9, 1945
War Department Technical Manual TM-12-247,
Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel,
archive.org

December 10, 1945
U.S. Army Center of Military History style guide,
history.army.mil

December 11, 1945
Battle Formations – The Rifle Platoon, for NCOs (1942)
youtube.com

December 21, 1945
Hospitalization and evac plan for Operation Olympic,
Logistic Instructions No. 1 for the Olympic Operation, 25 July 1945
cgsc.cdmhost.com
USS Sanctuary, hospital ship AH-17
navsource.org

December 22, 1945
Russian communists vs Chinese communists,
– Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon
Chiang Kai-shek quote on the communists vs the Japanese,
izquotes.com

December 23, 1945
Sakura-jima and its volcanoes,
photovolcanica.com

December 25, 1945
USS Hazard, minesweeper AM-240 [MUSEUM SHIP],
nps.gov
tripadvisor.com

January 17, 1946
Radiation detection equipment,
national-radiation-instrument-catalog.com

July 18, 1945
PBY-4/5 Catalina flying boat,
pwencycl.kgbudge.com
Consolidated Aircraft plant in San Diego,
sandiegohistory.org
Consolidated Aircraft plant production and products, B-24 and PB4Y-2,
legendsintheirowntime.com
wikipedia.org

December 24, 1945
Pearl Harbor survivors, trapped under USS West Virginia,
nps.gov
community.seattletimes.nwsource.com

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It must be emphasized that X-Day: Japan is not an academic work. Still, we’re proud of the research and detail that went into it. Some readers have asked for more information about certain details, or for a longer list of references than in the bibliography.

In the margins of the main manuscript can be found links to many of the little facts that decorate the novel. We’ve compiled them into a list, sorted by the Tuttle journal dates in which each was found. A bunch of them are given below. The list will be completed in later installments.

July 16, 1945
FM 30-26 Regulations for Correspondents Accompanying U.S Army Forces in the Field,
archive.org

July 19, 1945
Macarthur’s personal plane, and his assistants,
donmooreswartales.com
ozatwar.com
Flying across the Pacific in a hurry,
wikipedia.org
wikipedia.org
uswarplanes.net

July 22, 1945
USO,
archive.org
Hawaii – it’s history, economy, defenses, and outlook – as of late 1940,
fortune.com
Prostitution in Hawaii,
library.manoa.hawaii.edu
Actual USO show,
gvnews.com
abebooks.com

July 23, 1945
Training on Hawaii up in Camp Tarawa,
Chuck Tatum, Red Blood, Black Sand
DE’s by class and commissioning year,
ibiblio.org/hyperwar/

July 26, 1945
NATS,
wikipedia.org
vpnavy.org
FDR’s line crossing ceremony,
ww2db.com

July 27, 1945
Marpi Airfield, Saipan,
airfields-freeman.com

July 28, 1945
SB2C Helldiver,
wikipedia.org
Marine close air support,
ibiblio.org

July 29, 1945
Facilities and engineers in the Marianas,
ibiblio.org
Floating dry-dock example,
navsource.org
navsource.org
Log of bombing missions from one group,
39th.org

July 30, 1945
458th Squadron, 33th Bomb Group,
rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ny330bg/
mission log including radio report from Ray Clark,
rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ny330bg/

August 3, 1945
Baseball in wartime,
baseballinwartime.com
Navy reports on typhoon of June 1945 (Connie),
history.navy.mil
USS Red Oak Victory, cargo ship AK-235 [MUSEUM SHIP],
navsource.org
navy.memorieshop.com
richmondmuseum.org
Shortage of loading berths at Okinawa,
Nimitz Gray Books [multiple references]

August 6, 1945
Yonabaru Naval Air Station,
rememberingokinawa.com
Buckner Bay and Navy HQ buildings,
rememberingokinawa.com
Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,
history.com

August 9, 1945
Trial of Captain McVay of the Indianapolis,
ussindianapolis.org

August 10, 1945
Active airfields on Okinawa, 1945,
wikimedia.org

August 16, 1945
USO show on Okinawa,
rememberingokinawa.com
Betty Hutton,
bettyhuttonestate.com

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Born August 3, 1900, Ernie Pyle told the story of America by telling the stories of Americans. When he perished under fire in the Ryukus, an enormous void was left behind in the world of journalism and in the hearts of soldiers, mothers, sailors, bothers, tradesmen, and every other sort of reader everywhere. Even our own Walt Tuttle was speechless over the event.

Among many lengthy obituaries, the New York Times had this to add.

Ernie Pyle was haunted all his life by an obsession. He said over and over again, “I suffer agony in anticipation of meeting people for fear they won’t like me.”

No man could have been less justified in such a fear. Word of Pyle’s death started tears in the eyes of millions, from the White House to the poorest dwellings in the country.

President Truman and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt followed his writings as avidly as any farmer’s wife or city tenement mother with sons in service.

Mrs. Roosevelt once wrote in her column “I have read everything he has sent from overseas,” and recommended his writings to all Americans.

For three years these writings had entered some 14,000,000 homes almost as personal letters from the front. Soldiers’ kin prayed for Ernie Pyle as they prayed for their own sons.
http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0803.html

While terribly modest about it, Pyle’s fame allowed him into places other people could not intrude, especially into the confidence of greasy workers and low-level enlisted men. [Tuttle confessed to riding Pyle’s coattails into low places many times.] He had this story to share about one modest but distinctive honor.

“Whenever a flier was fished out of the North Sea or the Channel, the RAF
rescuers gave him a little felt insigne about an inch high, in the form of a half
wing — showing a fish skipping over the water. This was a membership badge in
the ‘Goldfish Club.’ It was sewn under the lapel, and displayed when occasion
demanded. It wasn’t worn outwardly because, I presume, we didn’t want German
agents to know how many guys had been fished out of the water.

The boys had another memento of their salt-water bath. They all had Short
Snorter bills. But they had started a new series of signatures on bills which they
called ‘Dinghy Snorters.’ Only fliers who had had to ditch were allowed to sign
those bills. They flattered me by asking me to sign, and said mine would be the
only non-Goldfish signature permitted on their bills.”
http://www.shortsnorter.org/Ernie_Pyle_US_1_dollar_HAWAII_090108.html

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[Tuttle took care to paint the background scene for readers back home. The details he included are missing in other histories, the ones about presidents and generals.]

Today I wanted to see some of the island myself before I saw more of the military side. I looked for a ride over to the famous Waikiki beach a bit to the east of downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. A poster of bus routes reminds riders that priority should be given to military personnel and civilian war workers going about their needful business. Some people tell me that my work is important to the war effort, but I still looked around for busier looking riders before getting on a bus.

One errand they ran me through yesterday was to change out some of my currency for “Hawaiian” money. Wary of Japanese invasion, which seemed inevitable just three years ago, the government called in all the paper money from people in Hawaii so that it couldn’t fall into enemy hands. But with a half million inhabitants and likely millions of servicemen and support people about to be moving in, there was a need for replacement cash, pronto.

The expedient-if-inelegant solution was to stamp “HAWAII” on the front and back of millions of existing bank notes. I suppose a lot of the marked notes will become souvenirs someday. Right now mine is marked for lunch money and bus fare.

Honolulu bus map, 1945

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[This is the preface from the book X-Day: Japan.]

Guide for the Modern Reader

The book Kyushu Diary was originally published in 1946, in which Walter F. Tuttle combined his own columns and other notes into an edited compilation. The second edition of 1952 was also by Tuttle’s own hand, with added footnotes, a map, some previously censored sections, and a post-script from the author. We are not calling this new book a 3rd edition. We have left Tuttle’s own 2nd edition of his compilation intact. X-Day: Japan starts with the second edition of Kyushu Diary and expands on it with extra features for a 21st century presentation.

The target audience of Walter F. Tuttle’s original Kyushu Diary is a newspaper reader of 1945. That person speaks a slightly different language from someone in the 21st century. That reader was persistently exposed to an argot of military affairs during six years of global war. Some of the words and concepts novel to that reader are mundane to us now, and many common phrases or jargon of that fast-changing time quickly became anachronistic or forgotten.

Tuttle wrote that “logistics” was a new word to many people then, as fielding a large army into undeveloped territory across a vast ocean was an unprecedented concept. In our modern post-jet-age economy, “logistics” is found in perky ad slogans of major companies.

Our modern world has been shaped by things we call “low intensity conflicts”, “limited war”, and “counter-terrorism operations”. These are all terms that would have been completely unknowable to a reader of the pre-nuclear 1940s. To help the modern reader bridge those gaps of time and language, we have included a section of brief historical context, and a small glossary.

Histories are generally either top-down views, summarizing the whole situation, or narratives from an individual perspective. Tuttle’s Kyushu Diary is at its heart a personal narrative. But Tuttle went to some trouble to paint a complete picture of the scene in the Pacific, from the home front all the way across to the battlefields in Japan, for the benefit of American readers who had been shown mostly news from Europe in the preceding years. Toward that effort we add this guide, additional maps, a list of further reading, and a judicious few additions to the text footnotes.

Tuttle believed in the spontaneous uncertainly of momentous events, which could turn out vastly different from changes in decision making or from natural flukes, and he was keen to communicate this to readers. In that spirit we also include a list of books of alternate histories or historical fiction novels, fantastic explorations of entirely possible what-ifs in this part of history. Popular topics in this genre are ‘What if we forced Japanese surrender by dropping atomic bombs on cities instead of military targets?’ and ‘What if we dropped atomic bombs on cities and they kept on fighting anyway?’

The book is not a parade of military hardware or a treatise on combined arms tactics. It does not get into any high level politics or command decisions. As before the war, Tuttle wrote about people and how they over came their own local problems. As a reporter he provided regular updates about the progress of each battle and the larger situation, but his real interest was in setting the stage for human stories to play out.

The text of Kyushu Diary varies considerably from the columns that were published under Tuttle’s byline during the war. The columns were worked over by many editors, and parsed out to fill some number of column-inches three days a week. Tuttle did not actually write to a format or deadline; he submitted when he could. The book was written directly from Tuttle’s own notes and original submissions. Many boring days are skipped, and some busy days have a dozen pages of dense material. That’s war for you.

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Ernie Pyle wrote that for the invasion of Sicily Army engineers of just one division brought 83 tons of printed maps. We’ve looked over the actual maps for the invasion of Kyushu and are sure it was several times that for Operation Olympic. Kyushu is a much bigger island, and they mapped it in intricate detail, down to every fishing shack and outhouse.

map snippet

Kyushu was covered by over 150 color folding map sheets, each spanning 25,000 yards, about 14 miles. Tens of thousands of junior officers tracked their men over several of the maps. An artillery battery might cover four at once. Pilots had their own versions, and planners back at base had to translate back to the land versions to coordinate activities. A lot of guys needed a lot of maps.

Now we need a new version – for the readers. Simplified maps were drawn up just for X-Day: Japan, of southern Kyushu and key battle areas. They are being made available here in a stand-alone package. The reader can refer to the maps separately, without having to flip or scroll back in the middle of a chapter.
Click to save the zip package.

xdj_map_samp
http://www.xdayjapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/XDJ_maps.zip

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[Seventy years ago, the famous reporter and columnist Ernie Pyle was killed. Walt Tuttle took a side trip to visit the site, on a small island near Okinawa.]

I took my last chance to finish up an important bit of business before leaving Okinawa. Thankfully it was no trouble finding a ride over to the small island of Ie Shima, just west of northern Okinawa. We have small ships shuttling men to and from every occupied bit of dry rock as combat units form up and garrison troops take their places.

I wanted to visit Ie Shima for a particular, perhaps peculiar, reason. It is a small island with a small mountain and a small airfield, which the Army took with some cost, and many more Japanese died defending it. The same can be said now for many dozens of small islands in the Pacific. Ernie Pyle died here.

If you are reading this column you are probably aware of Ernie Pyle’s enormous legacy. If you are reading this column instead of his, you probably also miss him. I read that Pyle was read in over 700 newspapers, of his own employer’s and through syndication, by 40 million people. I’ve no way of researching the point right now, but I can’t imagine a writer in the past has ever had so wide a circulation or readership. And that at this time when newspapers may be just past their peak of power, as newsreels and radio broadcast news are taking a growing share of attention. Pyle may go down as the most widely read reporter and one of the most influential men of his day. Pyle would have wanted nothing to do with any such power.

Pyle made his name by learning about Americans, down on the ground with them, and sharing their stories. Tire treads and shoe leather were never spared as he criss-crossed the continent finding the big little stories that make us up. There was really nothing different about doing that on other war-infested continents. The subjects were living in the ground and getting shot at, but they were living just the same, each with an American story to share.

If you’ve ever felt empathy for a dirty cold soldier 5000 miles away, where you could really feel the chill in your bones as you reflexively scrunch your own shoulders to shrink down into a hole in the earth to hide from exploding artillery shells, it was probably because of Ernie Pyle. If you’ve felt the anxiety of an air base ground crew counting their damaged planes coming back from a raid, and the empty gut that comes when the count is short, it was probably because of Ernie Pyle.

I met Ernie on a number of occasions, but only briefly. A couple times we actually coordinated our activities, to make sure we were in different places and not in with the same type of unit (The Army usually tried to keep journalists from being bunched up in one spot anyway). He wasn’t actually as unkempt in the field as he made out in his writing. Personal grooming and housekeeping in a combat area are tough, as he explained, but people do manage to make a suitable home for themselves wherever they are.

Here on this small island, which will fade again to anonymity once there are not fighter planes operating from its hard-won air strip, Ernie Pyle was in his usual place up near the front lines. Except the lines aren’t so sharp in this desperate fight. The Japanese have employed many tactics to mingle with Americans, to inflict damage on the invaders where our heavy artillery and air power can’t be brought to bear.

In this case a single machine gunner hid out until the American lines went by. He had a good spot. After Pyle’s jeep was attacked, it took a squad all afternoon to flush out the position. A simple wooden marker shows the spot where a well aimed burst killed Ernie instantly.

I will share one of my favorite Ernie Pyle stories, in case you missed it and just because it’s about my adopted southern homeland. Pyle was in Italy with a regiment drawn almost entirely from Tennessee and the Carolinas. The whole unit got paid, in cash, before leaving New York, collecting envelopes worth about $52,000 dollars. After a transatlantic voyage worth of poker games, in England that unit traded in their cash for $67,000 dollars of campaign currency. “Dumb, these hillbillies,” was Pyle’s dry wry end to the story.

[We are happy to report that Ernie Pyle is not forgotten. Indiana University keeps alive the memory of one of her favorite alumni. Any visitor who wishes can sit across from a bronze statue of Ernie and get all the latest scoop.]

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December 6, 1945 : X+21 – Kanoya, Kyushu

…Life under artillery fire is an inestimable and unrelenting agony. One is sleep deprived, lonely, scared, and above all helpless to do anything about it. There is no rational response. Some flavor of functional lunacy is required to carry on, be it bitter hardness or detached resignation. Cases of shell shock accumulate when a front is static – one more reason commanders are anxious to maneuver and push forward again.

It is certain that life on the Japanese side is even worse. For every scattering of shells they send, we are carpeting whole hills and valleys. We fire patterns of shells at the taller rocky mountains deliberately on schedule at the same time each day and night. The barrage is not meant to catch anyone by surprise. It is meant to reinforce the idea that we can do this at will and without end. Japanese there are probably hiding deep down in well stocked caves. It’s fine by us if they simply stay there.

Ernie Pyle wrote that in Italy some artillery men there figured that we were spending about $25,000 for every German soldier killed. They wondered what would happen if we just offered each of them that much cash to surrender instead. Pyle didn’t think much would happen.

I put the question to members of a supply company here. They spent some time doing some serious accounting. Their total came to $127,200 for each Jap. They agree with me that few of them would surrender for even that lofty ransom. We are going to have to go get those Japanese soldiers the old fashioned way.

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