Reporter, Scripps Howard
Born in Indiana, he spent comparatively
little time as a reporter when young and instead, became an editor. But,
in his mid-thirties, he fell victim to the nervous strain of executive
life, and was ordered to get a job out of doors. He became Scripps-Howard’s
roving reporter, filing six columns a week as he criss-crossed America 35
times, writing about its quirks and characters.
So when, in 1940, he was sent to cover
the war, he carried with him the memory of the tens of thousands of
Americans he had met on his travels –
and he wrote for them. Never glamourising, or treating war like sport with
the safety catch off, he struck a chord. In 1940, his reports were carried
by 30 dailies. By 1944, nearly 400 carried his pieces.
On the Blitz:
“It was a night when London was
ringed and stabbed with fire.…”
The return of men from the front lines
“Their faces are black and unshaven.
They are young men, but the grime and whiskers and exhaustion make them
“It was a lovely day for strolling
along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping
And the waste of war:
“There are many of the living who
have had burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead
men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of
hedge throughout the world.”
Pyle loathed war, but in 1945, despite
five years of almost continuous reporting from the front lines, he felt
compelled by a sense of duty, to undertake one last tour. A day after
landing on the island of Ie Shima, he was killed by a Japanese sniper’s
bullet. He was mourned from coast to coast. No reporter ever better
captured what war meant to the men who fought it than Ernie Pyle.