world war ii: war correspondent

Shells and big guns cost money, but it’s better to spend money than lives. Along that line a bunch of us were sitting around conjecturing about how much it costs to kill one German with our artillery. When you count the great price of the big modern guns, training the men, all the shipping to get everything over, and the big shells at $50 each, it must cost, we figured, $25,000 for every German we killed with our shelling.

‘Why wouldn’t it be better,’ one fellow said, 'just to offer the Germans $25,000 apiece to surrender, and save all the in-between process and the killing? I bet they’d accept it too.’

It’s a novel theory, but personally I bet they wouldn’t.
—  Ernie Pyle, Artillerymen (Italy, December 1943—April 1944)
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.

Dead men by mass production—in one country after another—month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.

These are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn’t come back. You didn’t see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France.

We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands.
That’s the difference.
—  Ernie Pyle, a draft found in his pocket after his death on 18 April 1945

Norwegian war correspondent SS-Oberscharführer Oskar Bang on the Leningrad Front with the Den Norske Legion in the summer of 1942. Note the collar tab representing a Norwegian lion holding an axe.