August 12, 2020

1944. American Foreign Correspondents on Stalingrad and Leningrad

Bill Downs Looks Back on Russia
A woman walks past the wreckage of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane in Stalingrad in the summer of 1943 (source)
The Nazi Propaganda Ministry kept a file on Bill Downs mentioning this article, in which Downs recounts his experience reporting from the Soviet Union. An account by James Fleming, Downs' successor in Moscow, is also featured here.

From Newsweek, February 21, 1944, pp. 30-31:
A Departing Correspondent Looks Back on Russia

What does Russia look like to a correspondent who has just completed a long assignment there? Bill Downs, Newsweek and CBS correspondent, recently returned from the Soviet, Newsweek asked him to sum up his impressions of Russia. The story below tells how it seemed to Downs as viewed from the vantage point of New York.

Russia is a place that gets into your skin—despite wartime irritations of crowded subways, lack of taxicabs, of overworked and understaffed offices; despite the overly strict and self-conscious censorship; despite the grimness of the Moscow scene and the war weariness that makes people short-tempered; despite the pitiful sorrow of a people who have withstood terrible carnage.

After spending a year and two weeks in the Soviet, I find that already I miss the place. It's that kind of country and they're that kind of people.

And coming back to America after an absence of more than three years, I ached to show all the wonderful things that are America to the friends I made in Britain and Russia. For example, the young, good-looking cook in the headquarters dugout at Stalingrad. Her name was Vera. She handed me a drink of water, saying: "This is good water. Volga water. It has Russian blood in it."

The New Era: When I entered Russia on Christmas Day, 1942, the country was in the midst of the Battle of Stalingrad. The strain was evident in Moscow. Tired, red-eyed officers from the southern front who were reporting to headquarters could be seen in Moscow hotels trying to snatch a few hours' sleep before rushing back to the battle.

But the victory, although its cost was scores of thousands of Russian men, was the turning point of the United Nations war against the Axis.

This victory was also a turning point for the Soviet. It marked the end of one era inside Russia and the beginning of another. Only today are we beginning to see manifestations of a new era.

Our Questions: People have asked me: "Can we trust Russia? Will she make a separate peace?"

I found that when I left the Russian people were asking something of the same thing. They are tremendously appreciative of American and British aid to their country. But to a nation sacrificing millions of lives on the battlefields in the west, trucks and sugar and planes and meat seem pitifully small contributions to the victory. That is the basis for the insistent and sometimes bitter demands for the "second front." It is an understandable reaction.

Since the Moscow and Tehran conferences, however, the position of Russia's allies has been made more clear to the people. Our war in the Pacific and the bombings of the Continent have been more fully explained and their value more truly appreciated. But the Russian soldiers still call the cans of American meat they like so well "Second Front." It is a standard joke for a Red Army man to say: "Hand me a can of that Second Front, Ivan."

Total Russian casualties in the Soviet-German war today are estimated at between 10,000,000 and 15,000,000 men, women, and children. No one probably will ever know how many Russians have died and will die in this most terrible of all wars. Estimates of damage to Russian cities and towns and villages defy the imagination.

After what I have seen of the hatred in the faces of the people, after seeing areas so devastated that a house still intact startles the eye, and particularly after staring into mass graves where thousands of people died, it is not difficult for me to answer the question: "Will Russia make a separate peace with the Germans?"

Stalingrad: I left Moscow last Jan. 3. Our plane was grounded at Stalingrad for two days and nights by weather. As we flew over the city, there already were two thin streams of smoke from patched-up chimneys of the flattened tractor plant and the Red Barricades factory.

I had seen Stalingrad six days after the defeat of the German armies. Then the city was still stunned from the impact of battle. It was as if you had stepped into a giant bell shortly after it had been struck. There probably has never been such complete demolition over such a wide area. Bombing alone cannot reduce rubble to such small bits. Artillery is needed to break up the big chunks of masonry. And that was what Stalingrad was mostly, just a lot of little chunks of brick, mortar, wood—and bodies.

In flying over Stalingrad now, you could see the beginnings of streets and roads and of a new and better housing. And engineers, workers, and men, women, and children from all over Russia are walking along the downtown streets helping reconstruct the hero city of the Soviet Union. Part of this reconstruction was being engineered in the still-ruined factory buildings.

But the most startling thing in the city I found at the new airport. For two years I'd been looking for a central heating system outside the United States that worked. Warm radiators had become an obsession with me. I'd felt radiators in Lisbon, London, Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Baku, and Moscow. All were more like ice-box coils than heating units. Until I got to Stalingrad.

My search ended in the waiting room of the new airport building. The heat in that room was enough to knock you over. It's one of the most pleasant memories of Russia that I have. And there are going to be a lot more of them when the rebuilding is finished.
Saint Isaac's Square in besieged Leningrad in March 1943. The monument to Emperor Nicholas I is concealed from German aircraft (source)
A Newcomer Takes a Trip to Battered Leningrad

. . . What does Russia look like to a correspondent just arriving there from the Western world? James Fleming, Newsweek and CBS correspondent, who recently replaced Downs in Russia, last week was permitted to visit the battle city of Leningrad and its long-besieged environs. Here is the story he cabled on his reactions.

Leningrad—the world's most shelled city today presents a tidy façade to a visitor. There are few leveled buildings in the London-Rotterdam style, though the interiors were burned out of perhaps every fifth structure. Indeed, Leningrad's chief architect Nicolai Baranoff, says there is no building in the city that has not suffered some damage, either by bombs or shells. But the work of restoration has been continuing all through the blockade.

The Winter Palace, which received only six bomb hits, stands nearly intact save for boarded windows, yet the adjoining Hermitage Galleries suffered a serious shell gutting. None of several bridges crossing the many-figured Neva River was hit, although they were constant German targets.

No estimate is available as to how many of Leningrad's original 3,000,000 are now in the city, but a good guess is perhaps one-fourth of that number. The normal routines of daily life are completely reestablished, and mornings and evenings the streetcars are crowded with factory workers and school children.

The work of cleaning up the city's wrecked buildings is largely performed by women and girls. Plans for rebuilding, which were begun at the height of the blockade in the winter of 1941-42, envisage no exact reconstruction of destroyed buildings, but instead a project of more modern structures and a series of great parks to break up the crowded center of the city. Today the famous Kirov Works, which cover 5 square kilometers, are working at high speed. Workers tell how the factories suffered 5,000 shell hits and reminisce of the grimmest days of January and February 1942, when the ration was down to 250 grams of bread and one bowl of soup for each worker daily. Then, they say it was not an uncommon sight to see a worker slump over in a factory, dead of hunger.

The Battleground: South and west of Leningrad stretches a broad plain where the recent battles which liberated the city took place. I stood at the spot on the road to Peterhof, scarcely a mile and a half from the city's center, where the Germans approached closest. If ever Hitler suffered carpet-chewing frustration, it must have been here. The city was literally within his grasp, and outlying buildings were within range of a .22 rifle. This was the spot where citizens threw up barricades across the roads and where women joined in the work of digging up trenches and tank traps.

It would be an exaggeration to call Leningrad's physical defenses around its suburbs impressive. Looking at them, you realize that it must have been the sheer spirit of defiance on the part of the citizens that saved Leningrad. There's a gold medal on bright blue ribbon which ever soldier and civilian who participated in the city's defense proudly wears. For example, the elderly woman who tidies my hotel room is never without that emblem pinned to her dress.

In contrast to their own light ground defense works, Leningrad's defenders were ringed by an extensive series of German fortifications no less powerful than those of the Maginot Line.

The battlefield a fortnight ago after the extermination of the Germans was still strewn with big German tanks and heavy artillery, as well as immense quantities of machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, and ammunition.

The Silent: Here and there a sprawled German body lies in the snow until sappers are able to clear the minefields and arrange for burial. Strewn around the German dugouts are empty bottles of Bordeaux wine and Hennessey cognac. Everywhere one sees German gas masks and felt boots in the Russian Valenki style which one Russian colonel scornfully called "ersatz Valenki."

The amount of booty left behind indicates an unplanned retreat and the fact that the Russian break-through came as a complete surprise.

Right in the midst of the battlefield are the ancient and magnificent palaces of Peterhof and Gatchina, while at nearby Pushkin is the palace of Catherine the Great. The Germans had used barracks and on retreating set fire to them. The third floor of the Pavel Palace at Gatchina was used as a brothel for the German Air Corps. The tremendous grounds of the Peterhof Palace, resembling those at Versailles, were plowed over with tank traps and the palace proper on the Gulf of Finland was used as an artillery station.

Special movies shown to correspondents in Leningrad revealed many new details of the "Summer Road" across Lake Ladoga, which was used at the height of the blockade when melting ice destroyed the winter route. Oil-carrying railway cars, half-filled in order to maintain buoyancy, were floated across the lake tied to boats, while strings of barges also brought vital supplies.

In the lobby of the Hotel Astoria is a big siren used to give artillery warnings—now not needed in view of the fact that the Finns have withdrawn their big guns and the Germans are a hundred miles away. But the custodian pats it affectionately and insists it must be ranked as an honored trophy.

July 13, 2020

1948-1950. The Berlin Reports

Bill Downs Reports from Blockaded Berlin
Bill Downs and Edward R. Murrow in East Berlin standing under a Free German Youth banner in 1948
Berlin, 1948 - 1950

Bill Downs served as the CBS correspondent in Berlin for nearly two years to cover the blockade and airlift. He stayed in the city from 1948 to 1950 with his wife, writer Rosalind "Roz" Downs (née Gerson). During that time he reported extensively on political developments in postwar Germany. In one letter home dated October 1948, he wrote:
You know just about as much as we do about what is going to come out of this mess. The decisions will not be made here. However the reflection of our policy shows here first and as far as I can make it out, we are preparing to continue this air lift for two years if necessary. There has been nothing that gives any hope for the lifting of the blockade in the near future. The Russians go as far as they dare without overtly precipitating war. I get the feeling that we do the same more or less. And the feeling is that there will not be any open, official conflict between the two major powers.
In another letter home dated September 1948, Roz wrote about the devastation in Berlin:
We drove into the city the other day. [Edward R. Murrow] wanted to see what was left of it. The only opinion I have of the Germans after seeing Berlin and the other parts of Germany we've driven through is that they sure were damn fools. I think before the war Berlin must have been one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Now, there is no city. For miles on end there is nothing but rubble. You are startled when you see a building standing until you drive close to it and see it's only four walls with no insides. . . . It is very depressing to go into Berlin proper. As Ed said, it looks like the end of the world. It looks like something out of a fantastic story magazine; something that looks like a civilization of the past, now dead.
Below are some of Bill Downs' reports from 1948 to 1950. The text is adapted from his typewritten scripts.
1948

July 22, 1948 to September 22, 1948: Berlin's newspaper propaganda wars

July 30, 1948: Politics and the black market in West Berlin

September 12, 1948: Communists hold "Victims of Fascism" rally in Berlin

September 13, 1948: Rumors of an "X-Day" putsch

September 14 to September 16, 1948: Outcry over the sentencing of West German protesters

September 17, 1948: The East-West standoff rattles the city

September 18, 1948: US celebrates Air Force Day by ramping up the airlift

September 19, 1948: Uneasy quiet ahead of UN meeting

September 20 to September 23, 1948: Western Allied Commanders convene on the eve of UN meeting

September 24, 1948: US increases the airlift operation

September 25, 1948: Worried speculation of Soviet interference in the airlift

September 26 to September 28, 1948: The Western occupation powers appeal to the UN

September 30, 1948: The tenth anniversary of the Munich Agreement

September 30 to October 12, 1948: One hundred days of blockade

October 2, 1948: War of nerves behind the Iron Curtain

November 16, 1948: Moscow withdraws recognition of Ernst Reuter

November 18 to November 26, 1948: Elections near as the Anglo-American airlift continues

November 21, 1948: Downs' car vandalized

November 28 to November 30, 1948: Eastern sector Communists oppose West Berlin elections

November 30 to December 4, 1948: The East-West divide widens

December 4, 1948: West Berliners go to the polls

December 6, 1948: Berlin, the "island of anticommunist opposition"

December 7 to December 10, 1948: The deepening isolation of West Berlin

December 16 to December 20, 1948: The French destroy Soviet-controlled radio transmission towers

December 18, 1948: Signs of economic difficulty reported in the Soviet zone

December 19 to December 30, 1948: Christmas in Berlin

December 1948: Germans making the most of the holiday
A crowd of approximately 200,000 listens to Mayor Ernst Reuter speak in Berlin at a demonstration against the policies of the SED and the Soviet military government, September 9, 1948 (source)
1949

January 1949: Bill Downs on the "moral reconstruction" of Germany

January 4, 1949: Stalingrad prisoners forced into the East German People's Police

January 5, 1949: The Harnack House club

January 10 to January 24, 1949: The fascist remnants in Germany

January 12, 1949: Simmering tensions over the Ruhr

January 13, 1949: Dispute over missing German war prisoners in Russia

January 14, 1949: The West Berlin assembly prepares to meet in Schöneberg

January 14, 1949: The Communist-Socialist divide in East and West Berlin

January 17, 1949: Protests against the Ruhr occupation

January 24 to January 29, 1949: The Socialist Unity Party convenes in Berlin

January 26, 1949: The future of the two Germanies

January 28, 1949: West Germany's booming industry alarms Britain and France

January 30, 1949:  Reports of a shakeup for the US military government in Germany

January 31 to February 13, 1949: Stalin's conditions for lifting the blockade

February 9, 1949: Debate over Cardinal Mindszenty's sentencing in Budapest

February 16, 1949: Tensions grow as the Berlin blockade continues

February 17 to March 4, 1949: The eight Russians who refused to leave Frankfurt

February 19, 1949: Criminal trials in Munich

February 19 to February 20, 1949: Five men charged with espionage against the United States

February 23 to February 24, 1949: The Soviets opt to remain in Germany

March 2, 1949: Ultranationalism in West Germany

March 8, 1949: Fear dominates Leipzig

March 11, 1949: Soviets conduct defensive exercises along the Elbe

March 13, 1949: The West prepares for indefinite blockade

April 17, 1949: Easter in West Berlin

April 18, 1949: The US stages a major field exercise in Germany

April 19, 1949: New wave of blockade speculation in Berlin

April 20, 1949: The Kremlin reconsiders its blockade policy

April 23, 1949: The SPD and CDU work on drafting a constitution

April 23 to April 25, 1949: Western occupation powers urge statehood for West Germany

April 26 to April 27, 1949: The Kremlin calls for a Big Four conference

April 28, 1949: General Clay announces he will step down as military governor

April 29 to April 30, 1949: Berlin readies for May Day

May 5, 1949: The price to pay for lifting the blockade

May 7, 1949: Strategic failure as the Soviets plan to lift the Berlin blockade

May 8, 1949: Victory Day ceremony in Treptower Park

May 10 to May 13, 1949: Soviets dispute Western claims of ending the counter-blockade

May 11 to May 12, 1949: Celebrations as the blockade is lifted

May 14, 1949: Western powers grant West Berlin more autonomy

May 15 to May 17, 1949: Unexpected anti-Communist movement in East Berlin elections

May 21 to May 27, 1949: Massive worker uprising hits East Berlin

May 28, 1949: Council of Foreign Ministers meets in Paris to discuss Berlin crisis

June 3, 1949: Gerhart Eisler criticizes the United States

June 4 to June 10, 1949: No end in sight for the elevated rail workers' walkout

June 6, 1949: Pro-Soviet propaganda downplays D-Day's significance

June 11 to June 16, 1949: Rail workers vote to continue strike

June 18 to June 29: Occupation powers clash over rail strike

June 19 to June 23: Deal sought to end rail strike

June 25, 1949: Airlift marks its first anniversary

June 30 to July 1, 1949: Traffic snafu in Berlin

July 2 and July 8, 1949: The East awaits the economic collapse of the West

July 3 to July 6, 1949: American High Commissioner John McCloy in Berlin

July 4, 1949: American occupation troops celebrate the Fourth of July

July 10 to July 14, 1949: The "Little Blockade" of Berlin

July 16, 1949: Tragic accidents in Germany

July 17 to July 29, 1949: The Catholic Church's "open warfare" with communism

July 19 to July 22, 1949: East Germany seeks a united front

July 25 to July 27, 1949: "Little Blockade" finally ends

July 29, 1949: Western Allies pay tribute to lives lost during the airlift

July 31 to August 2, 1949: Allied occupation officials convene ahead of West German elections

August 7 to August 15, 1949: Factions vie for power in West Germany

August 15 to August 17, 1949: United States backs right-wing coalition government

August 19 to August 21, 1949: The Communists lose influence in the West

August 22, 1949: American officials promote the Marshall Plan

August 24, 1949: Adenauer set to form coalition

August 26, 1949: Intelligence reports of increased Volkspolizei activity

August 29 to September 10, 1949: US officials appeal to Soviets to release two American youths

September 3, 1949: Tensions rise with the Yugoslav-Soviet split

September 7, 1949 to September 9, 1949: The West German parliament meets in Bonn for the first time

September 11 to September 15, 1949: Konrad Adenauer becomes Chancellor of West Germany

September 18, 1949: Son of Communist leader Max Reimann escapes the Volkspolizei

September 22, 1949: Adenauer government begins work

September 26, 1949: The Soviets successfully develop nuclear weapons

October 11, 1949: Massive pro-Communist parade down Unter den Linden

November 14 to November 15, 1949: Secretary Acheson meets with Allied High Commissioners

November 16 to November 25, 1949: Adenauer signs the Petersberg Agreement

November 30, 1949: East Berlin marks anniversary of rump magistrate's founding

December 4, 1949: American labor leader Walter Reuther visits Germany

December 5, 1949: Threats of violence overshadow West Berlin elections

December 6, 1949: East Berlin criticizes West; Germans clean up World War II battlefields

December 9, 1949: Yugoslav diplomats detained in East Berlin

December 10, 1949: The question of rearming West Germany

December 11, 1949: More purges in East Germany as technicians flee to the West

December 14, 1949: Soviet Foreign Minister Vyshinsky visits Berlin

December 15, 1949: Occupation powers back German youth movements

December 17, 1949: US ramps up economic ties to West Germany

December 18, 1949: Far-right nationalist movement emerges in Bavaria

December 21, 1949: East Berlin celebrates Stalin's birthday

December 23, 1949: Downs reports for the American Forces Network

December 24, 1949: Berlin prepares for its first Christmas after the blockade

December 24, 1949: Positive news for West Germany on Christmas Eve

December 25, 1949: Downs celebrates another Christmas in West Berlin
The Free German Youth marches in East Berlin to protest the Marshall Plan and the Western Powers, with a banner reading "Yankee, go home," May 1950 (source)
1950

January 6, 1950: Downs returns to Berlin from New York

January 8, 1950: Germany reacts to British recognition of Communist China

January 13 to January 15, 1950: Adenauer meets with French Foreign Minister Schuman Meet in Bonn

January 18 to January 22, 1950: East Germany threatens to impose new traffic blockade on Berlin

January 25, 1950: Soviets shut down internment camps in East Germany

January 27 to January 28, 1950: East Berlin announces the creation of the Stasi

February 1, 1950: Traffic slowdown at Helmstedt-Marienborn checkpoint

February 6 to February 10, 1950: Klaus Fuchs arrested in Britain

March 1 to March 3, 1950: East criticizes Western preconditions for reunifying Germany

March 4, 1950: Soviet deportation plan for Germans stokes tensions with British

April 2, 1950: German Communists react to Senator Joseph McCarthy

April 28, 1950: East German lieutenant testifies Soviets building a German army

April 29 to May 2, 1950: East and West Berlin hold dueling May Day demonstrations

May 7, 1950: Political reshuffling on both sides of Germany

May 8, 1950: West Germans scoff at Communist declaration of "Liberation Day"

May 18, 1950: West Germany celebrates holiday as the East prepares for elections

June 6, 2020

1944. The Murrow Boys on D-Day

The Murrow Boys Report on the Normandy Landings

RICHARD C. HOTTELET AT H-HOUR
June 6, 1944

DOUG EDWARDS: And now for the report of Richard Hottelet of CBS. Go ahead, London.

RICHARD C. HOTTELET: This is Richard C. Hottelet speaking from London.

The Allied forces landed in France early this morning. I watched the first landing barges hit the beach exactly on the minute of H-Hour. I was in a Ninth Air Force Marauder flying at 4,500 feet along twenty miles of the invasion coast.

From what I could see during those first few minutes, there was nothing stopping the assault parties from getting ashore. We spent about half an hour over enemy territory. We flew over and bombed some of the coastal fortifications, but except for some light flak from inland positions and from some tanks firing at us, we saw no enemy gunfire. The only other sign of life in enemy territory were some white and yellow parachutes dotting the ground, where all our paratroopers had hit the ground. The weather is favorable for the operation.

Offshore, Allied warships were bombing the enemy coast, and they seemed to be doing it without any opposition. As far as we were concerned, there was no opposition from the air, either. The Luftwaffe just didn't seem to be there.

What I saw was literally the last minute of the invasion preparation and the first minute of invasion. We were low, but we were traveling fast, and we could not tell how the battle for the beaches would develop. But if the ground action goes as smoothly as the air preparation, we can hope for the best.

I went in with a bomber group—probably the hottest group in the Ninth Air Force. Our mission was to plaster the invasion beach and some coastal fortifications with bombs seven minutes before our assault parties came ashore. This group was chosen for the hair-trigger work because of its previous superb record.

Well, we delivered, and we delivered on time.

This is the way it worked. Last night we were told briefing would be at 3 o'clock. We got up at 2, had griddle cakes and fried spam for breakfast, went into the Nissen hut that serves as a briefing room. The doors were closed, and the commanding officer announced that the invasion had begun. He said that, since midnight three hours before, our paratroopers—some 20,000 of them—had been landing in France. The men cheered. The colonel went on to say that the air forces were being called upon for their maximum contribution. There were going to be more than 1,500 Fortresses and Liberators flying ahead of us. Hundreds of medium bombers, too, were going to precede us, and our group was to wind up the pre-invasion bombing.

When he said this, the men really cheered. To top it off, we were going to have cover from more than 2,500 Allied fighters. The colonel made it plain that nothing was to be left to chance. The weather in the target area had been unsettled and cloudy, and as we were going to deliver precision bombing, we would have to fly below the clouds, and then we would go down and bomb from a thousand feet. When he said that, not a man blinked an eye, despite the fact that such a low altitude counts as suicide for the Marauders.

It was still dark when we took off, and raining. But one by one, those Marauders roared down the runway and took off. An hour and a half later we were out over the English Channel. First we couldn't see anything except a few stray vessels. Great care had been taken to keep our ships from firing at their own planes. Every single bomber and fighter had been painted overnight with special markings on wings and fuselage, and the direction we were to fly, the way we were to turn if we got into trouble, and the recognition signals we were to give, had all been very carefully worked out. Even so, when we passed over the first few barges, we had the uncomfortable feeling that we were being shot at. It didn't last long. We were out of the way in a matter of minutes.

By this time it was getting on, and the sun was painting the sky a bright orange color on our left. Below us, the English Channel was a fine, deep blue. There were a few whitecaps, but we got the impression that it wasn't very rough down below. About five miles off the French coast, we saw a plane in a steep dive laying a smokescreen. Just about the same minute, the pilot said he saw fires on the shore. I looked as hard as I could, and there down to the left were some naval vessels. They looked like cruisers firing broadsides onto the shore. Their guns belched flame and smoke. Once, I saw a fountain of water not far from one of them, which may have been a shot from the shore or a death charge. Near the cruisers were dozens of landing craft of all kinds, hardly visible in the early morning haze. All this while, we saw medium bombers and fighters crisscrossing on the way to the target without a sign of a German plane. Then, as we turned in over the coast about ten minutes before H-Hour, we saw a fast assault boat race along parallel to the beach laying a smokescreen. From the way the screen laid, smooth and even, it looked as if there were no wind.

We opened our bomb bay doors. Light flak began to come up after us; little balls of fire off to our right and to our left. Some heavy flak off to our left, not near at all, firing only sporadically. The flights ahead of us dropped their bombs. The guns on the ships offshore resumed fire. The bombs and the shells burst together on the target. There were sheets of flame down below, then rolling balls of brown and black smoke.

Four and a half thousand feet up, our plane was rocked by the concussion, and we got the stench of the explosives. We dropped our bombs as scheduled. And just then, we saw down below on our left dozens and scores of white streaks as the assault boats raced over the blue water to the beach, leaving their white wakes stretched out behind them.

As we turned away from the target, we saw the boats hit the beach. Then we took evasive action—I couldn't see anymore. Down below, except for some more sporadic flak, it was a dead country. No sign of life. No vehicles on roads; no troop movement. And all the way in, we saw our Marauders weaving in and out in perfect formation above us, below us, and around us on all sides. We didn't see a single one of our planes in distress.

The mission wasn't the way we had figured it. We had expected to see German fortifications give back blow for blow with our ships. There was no sign of it. We had expected to see the Luftwaffe out in its full remaining strength to try to stop our planes, or at least strike a blow against our landing craft. We didn't see either. We had expected to find enemy territory full of antiaircraft, alive with reserves moving into threatened areas. We didn't see that.

The circumstances of our flight, the fact that we got there simultaneously with the invading troops and left in a minute, make it impossible to draw any far reaching conclusions on how the battle is going. But one thing we can say already, and that is: our air supremacy over the coastal invasion zone today is not seriously challenged.

I return you now to the United States.

CHARLES COLLINGWOOD AT UTAH BEACH
June 6, 1944 (broadcast June 8)

EDWARD R. MURROW (from London): This is London. Late on the afternoon of D-Day, Charles Collingwood took his recording gear in a little 36-foot LCVP onto a French beach. Nearing the beach, the water was filled with floating objects. Part of a parachute; a K-ration box; a life jacket; wreckage from a ship; shell cases. Here is part of the recording.

CHARLES COLLINGWOOD: This is Charles Collingwood. We are on the beach today on D-Day. We've just come in. We caught a ride in a small boat which came in from our LST loaded with a thousand pounds of TNT, half a ton of high explosives on this beach which is still under considerable enemy gunfire.

While we have been here we have just seen one of the strangest and most remarkable sights of this invasion so far. Two great fleets of over a hundred gliders have gone overhead towed by C-47 transports, who are certainly proving the workhorses of this invasion. They've hauled them right over the beaches and it seems as though the German gunners, amazed at this incredible sight, have stopped firing on the beach now because it's quiet here, and the second batch are droning over now. I can see them. They're casting off the gliders as they circle around over the beach and the transports are circling around and beginning to make off home. Where they're landing we don't know because we're down here on the beach, and there's a seawall in front of us and we can't see the land behind.

This is the way the beach looks, which was hit by our troops about twelve hours ago early this morning. It's a flat, sandy beach, like almost any beach that you're likely to see, and it floats gently away from the shore—from the seashore up to the dunes and then to the seawall, which was the first objective of our troops and which they took early on in the game.

Since that time, we have been able to bring in quite a bit of equipment. There are various trucks and jeeps and motor vehicles of all kinds here. There are also antiaircraft guns. We breached the seawall in various places and have set up guns there to defend against any possible enemy counterattack on the beaches, which has not occurred.

A naval party has just come in from the shore and begun to unload our TNT here, which is taking a load off my mind as well as a load off this vessel. And I asked him how things were going and he said it was pretty rough still. I asked him how far the troops had gone on inshore and he said that they'd got five or six miles inshore, which sounds as though they're making good progress. He said that the beach was still under considerable gunfire. The Germans had some 88s which we haven't been able to silence.

These boys are apparently having a pretty tough time in here on the beaches. It's not very pleasant. It's exposed, and it must have been a rugged fight to get it—although as nearly as we can see there is not a great deal of evidence of damage. Perhaps that's because it has been smoothed up. We can look along down the coast now and see this flat part of the beach which joins the water, going all the way down to the lower beach which is marked for us by columns of white smoke which are arising from it. And further up at the end of this beach we can see another huge column of white smoke which has apparently been caused by naval gunfire.

Looking out to sea, all we can see of the vast invasion fleet which is assembled for us are the silhouettes of the big warships, the battleships, and cruisers which have been putting a steady bombardment against the enemy positions all day. We can also see a few of the transports, but the fleet of LCTs and LCIs and other craft, which we have brought and assembled back maybe ten miles offshore, is invisible from us at this moment. They're coming back now, taking off more and more of this ammunition.

We've got a captain here who has come by and is looking rather curiously at this gadget we've got. Captain, can you come over here a minute? Can you tell us how things are on the beaches?

LIEUTENANT: Thank you for "captain," but actually I'm a naval lieutenant. Sometimes we get on these beaches by—we get to look like all kinds of things, particularly after you take a few running jumps in the sand.

COLLINGWOOD: Well Lieutenant, what's your name?

LIEUTENANT: Well, I work for a rival network in New York City...

COLLINGWOOD: You do?

LIEUTENANT: So that—or I did and I don't think I wanna ruin your broadcast. Let's just—let's say we dropped in, and that alone.

COLLINGWOOD: Okay, well, how are things going on the beach there?

LIEUTENANT: I've only been in for a little while, while these other boys have been there all day and if you might have made—maybe an army word, it's "rugged" as a matter of fact.

COLLINGWOOD: Is the beach still under some enemy shellfire?

LIEUTENANT: The beach is being pounded by enemy shellfire, though we hope to have it knocked out in the near future.

COLLINGWOOD: Boy, those gliders that just went over were quite a sight, weren't they?

LIEUTENANT: That was an impressive thing. I think that all of you folks listening at home, if you could've heard the "oohs" and "aahs" from men who are really dug in the shell holes in the sand—if you had heard those it would've done your heart a lot of good. It certainly did mine to see them go by.

COLLINGWOOD: Well I can agree with that too because it was a very impressive sight.

And now looking out we can see them going back very low along the water. The C-47s—which brought the gliders in—they've cut loose. And here comes another flight. The third flight of gliders which is being pulled in. I can't tell how many of them there are. They're coming in over the beach here. Squadron upon squadron of them have lined up in perfect formation, with the gliders coming along behind the big C-47s, and they're coming in apparently to drop right where they dropped before. Further up the beach, there's a fire which has apparently just been started by enemy shelling. It's maybe a quarter of a mile up from us.

At the moment there's no shelling in our immediate vicinity, although when we first beached our little LCVP about a hundred yards down the beach, German 88s were kicking up big clouds of sand as they shelled our positions down there, and you can still see some smoke drifting off from it. And over to our left, there's what is left some small craft or other which has been hit and is burning.

A great big Rhino ferry is making its way into the beach loaded with every kind of vehicle and craft. I can make out jeeps and trucks on it, and men sitting up there manning their guns which are already in case of enemy air attack. But there is no enemy air to be seen anywhere around here. The sky however is filled with this third fleet of gliders which are coming in full of our airborne infantry.

There is something which just dropped into the ground—into the sea. I don't know whether it was a plane or what it was that it made a big splash up there as it dropped down from out of the sky. The gliders are coming in now hauled in by the C-47s and protected by fighters which are around there. I can make out Thunderbolts and Spitfires which are giving them cover, and they've just taken off the last of our thousand pounds of high explosives, which is making it considerably more pleasant on this little boat. They're having to wade in across maybe fifty yards of water to get it into the beach.

We've come in in this LCVP through the transport area where our ship is. It's taken us about two hours to get in, and we came in through the choppy seas, with every second wave breaking over the ship and dousing us with spray. Gene Ryder and I are—and everyone on this little boat—are soaked absolutely to the skin. We're wet through and through. The salt is caked in our eyebrows. Every time we lick our lips we taste the salt. Our hands are cold and chapped as... We just found ourselves lucky that, after having made a trip like that, we don't have to go onto the beaches and fight. All we have to do is make the trip again.

GENE RYDER: I might tell the Navy Department we owe them one recorder.

COLLINGWOOD: Gene is referring to the fact that we took our recording machine which the Navy has lent us along with us here, and it has been absolutely inundated with the spray. Somehow or other Gene has made it work. I don't know what—he was out there polishing it with his handkerchief. Gene says he doesn't know how he made it work either.

And looking back now, turning around with my back to the beach and looking out to the sea, more and more and more of these glider-borne troops are coming in. These gliders are coming in towed very slowly by the big C-47s in what is apparently an unending stream. It's an incredible sight. And as that navy lieutenant told us a moment ago, the troops are waving and pointing and talking about it on the shore, at least those of them who have time and are not too busy taking care of themselves.

The troops are well dug in here along the seawall which is partly covered by sand. They're sitting down now, most of them dug deep into the ground as close as they can to the seawall to protect themselves from the enemy shelling. Some men are lining up further down the beach near a sign which says "five." They are taking over a truck and are apparently about to move off, whether through a breach into the seawall back inland or not, one can't tell.

We're standing here—it's an absolutely incredible and fantastic sight. I don't know whether it's possible to describe it to you or not. It's late in the afternoon. The sun is going down. The sea is choppy and the beach is lined with men and materiel and guns, trucks, vehicles of all kinds. On either side of us there are pillars of smoke perhaps a mile, two miles away, which are rising from enemy shelling. And further back we can see the smoke and results of our own shelling. Looking behind us we can see the big ships and the—some of the transports which have brought the troops in.

And overhead this incredible sight is still going on as more and more gliders are towed in by the C-47s going over the seawall, disappearing out of sight in apparently a wide sweep, and dropping their men somewhere back there who—for a function which we don't know anything about. All we can do is stand here and marvel at the spectacle. Now our men—we're trying to get the LCVP in closer to pick up the men who have been waiting ashore in this cold sea and choppy wind to pick up the stuff.

This place even smells like an invasion. It has a curious odor which we all associate with modern war. It's a smell of oil and high explosives and burning things. All—thank you. Come on over here! [Inaudible], who is one of the sailors, has just come with a handful of sand because he heard me say a while ago that what I wanted to do most of all was just to get ashore and reach down and take up a handful of sand and say "This is France!" and I've got it in my hands. France at last, after four years. [Inaudible], how does it feel just to reach down and grab a piece of sand and say "I'm grabbing French soil," huh?

SAILOR: Well it's—since I was born in France it has special meaning to me.

COLLINGWOOD: Were you born in France?

SAILOR: Yeah.

COLLINGWOOD: Where were you born?

SAILOR: In Calais.

COLLINGWOOD: You were? Well that's not very far from here. Well it has a special meaning for me too, as you can imagine. Have you got some? We've gotta save this. We've gotta put it in a bottle or something.

Now the transport planes are going back. The C-47s who came in towing the gliders, they're going back very close to the sea and we're going back too. We've got our men aboard all with handfuls of France in their hands, and we're going to save it because this has been a momentous occasion for all of us.

There go our motors. The ramp is going up. We're backing away from the beach now, and soon we'll be out in the salt spray and it'll be impossible for us to broadcast anymore.

MURROW: That was a recording made by Charles Collingwood at a French beach on the afternoon of D-Day. We return you now to the United States.

CHARLES SHAW IN LONDON
June 6, 1944
 
 
ROBERT TROUT: And now we've just had word that we're to hear further news direct from overseas. And so for another report of the pooled broadcasts, we take you now to London for the report of CBS correspondent Charles Shaw. Go ahead, London.

CHARLES SHAW: This is Charles Shaw in London. For an hour after the broadcast of Communiqué Number One [audio], I played town crier to a London generally unaware that France had been invaded. I rode and walked through the strand—Fleet Street, past St. Paul's, along the Thames embankment to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, out to Piccadilly Circus and other parts of so-called downtown London—asking people here and there what they thought of the news. In most cases I found out that I had to report the news before getting any comment.

It looked like London any morning between 9:30 and 10:30. The streets comparatively deserted, soldiers of all nations dancing about, street cleaners running their brushes along the curbs. I asked a taxi driver to take me around the city because I wanted to see how people were reacting to the news. Incidentally, I asked him, "Have you heard the news?"

"I heard something about it," he said, "But I don't know whether it's official." I assured him it was, because I had just returned from the studio where the communiqué was broadcast.

Waiting for a traffic light, we drew alongside a car driven by a girl wearing the uniform of France. I leaned out and said, "What do you think of the news?"

"What news?" she asked.

"The Allies have landed in France."

All she said was, "Thank God."

Fleet Street, headquarters of the press in London, was normal. A couple of men who might have been reporters were seen dashing into buildings and up to St. Paul's Cathedral to see whether there were worshipers inside. And the only person in the vast auditorium was a black robed guide to the crypt who hadn't heard the news. His comment after being informed was, "That's good."

And so it was all over London. Two RAF sergeants were sightseeing in Westminster Abbey. A couple of women were trying unsuccessfully to gain entrance to the Houses of Parliament. Downing Street was empty except for a street cleaner almost in front of Number 10. All over London women were selling flags for the benefit of the Red Cross. The girl I patronized hadn't heard the news, and her expression changed little when she was informed.

The next interviewee was a roly-poly woman, dressed about as broad as she was long, who had heard the broadcast. "It's gewd," she said. Not a newspaper extra appeared on the street. London this morning, for at least an hour after the broadcast of Communiqué Number One, was the same London that it was yesterday morning.

Earlier this morning, the telephone rang at 7 AM. It was Ed Murrow. He said, "Better get dressed and wait for a call from me." A new world speed record for getting dressed was promptly set. The dressing was accomplished against a background of heavy sky noise, the sound of great fleets of planes. They were too high to be seen, but their roar seemed to fill the sky, and the planes seemed to be everywhere.

At 7:45 the phone rang again. "Get to such and such a building as quickly as possible." It was a building from which the big communiqué was to be issued.

It was going-to-work time for London, and masses of shopgirls and businessmen jammed the sidewalks leading to that building. Almost bursting with what I felt was the big secret, I studied the faces of those people. Their expressions were the same as those of going-to-work people all over the world. Most of them looked sleepy. Quite a few of the girls were white-lipped, apparently having got up too late to put on lipstick and intending to do so at their offices. Some were neatly dressed, others had ties askew just like the eight o'clock crowd in Pittsburgh or San Francisco.

But there was one difference. The clothes they wore neatly or carelessly were mostly of 1939 and 1940 vintage. The lipstick the girls wore or forgot to wear was of a hard, chalky substance—war stuff. The tiredness in their faces came not from a bad night, but from almost five years of working in the front lines of war. You felt like shouting to those weary people, "It happened! The invasion has started!" Because that's what these people have been working and fighting for; fighting beside antiaircraft guns, fighting with fire hoses, fighting with industrial tools since one day exactly four years ago when the tattered fugitives from Dunkirk reached these shores. In a few hours they would know, and you wondered how they would take it.

The building was reached, and the way correspondents were converging on the gates from all directions reminded you of the old Toonerville Trolley animated cartoons in which an incomprehensible number of people would enter small apertures. They were all hurrying; some of them just moved their legs faster without seeming to cover much more ground. Practically every pass that you've been issued since arriving in London had to be produced. No one-eyed Connellys could get in here.

Bureau chiefs were herded into one big room. One person from each press association, major newspaper, and broadcasting network. All others were barred. And downstairs, outside of news special studios, the other broadcasters were waiting and typing out last minute pieces. And one of those studios had been locked tightly since its construction was completed. That was the studio that which the communiqué was to be read to a waiting world. Already the German radio was broadcasting reports of fighting in France. London was maintaining silence.

The broadcaster's workroom was filling with colonels, majors, lieutenants, and GIs of both the American and British armies. Nobody seemed quite sure of what so many soldiers were supposed to do in so small a room. White legging-ed, white belted MPs, their garrison caps banded with what looked like white bandages, took spaces inside and outside the doors.

In came the official Allied spokesman with retinue. He began calling New York network headquarters, informing them that the first communiqué would be broadcast at 9:32 London Time. 9:32 arrived. The communiqué was broadcast. The big secret was out.

This is Charles Shaw in London returning you to New York.

BILL DOWNS "SOMEWHERE IN NORMANDY"
June 14, 1944

BILL DOWNS: I'm speaking to you from a tent somewhere in Normandy—that bit of a truly free France liberated eight days ago by the invasion of British, Canadian, and American troops. It is 6:30 AM over here—the ninth day of the invasion is only a few hours old.

If you hear strange noises during this broadcast, it's the RAF and the Allied air forces and the American air forces on dawn patrol. It's more than dawn patrol—it's dawn attack.

I could take you right now in a thirty minute jeep ride to where the Allied troops are fighting. You can get to some part of the front in thirty minutes no matter where you happen to be.

So much has happened in these past eight days that they seem like eight months to every one of us over here. Americans have died, and British and Canadians have died—and a very great number of Germans have died. But the Allied forces have achieved what Hitler's henchmen said was impossible. We are in Europe to stay—and you only have to look at the face of an American doughboy, or into the eyes of a man from Calgary or from London, to know that we're not going to stop until we have completed the job.

All this comes under the category of making history.

The news from the front this morning is good. As a matter of fact, we've no bad news to report since the Allied forces crossed the beaches.

On the American sectors of the front, the troops continue to widen the bulge, threatening the entire peninsula of Cherbourg. The British-Canadian sector likewise is slowly expanding. There are hold-ups at a village here or there which the Germans have strongly fortified. There has not been much forward movement [around the city of Caen on the left flank of the] beachhead.

But you might compare this bit of liberated France to a giant muscle, which daily is becoming stronger and stronger as the sinews of war pour into it. As more tanks and guns and men pour in, the muscle expands.

Thus far the Germans have been unable to do much about it. However, last night and today there are signs that the Nazi high command has finally been able to get some fresh troops into the line. The fact that it took a week for his first reinforcements to arrive speaks for itself as to the effectiveness of the Allied night and day bombing over the past few months.

But as the Germans reinforce—and we are reinforced—there can be little doubt that a big battle is developing. In this sense, the Battle of France is a race between supply systems of the opposing armies. The force that gains superiority first will strike. You'll be interested to know that our supply position is all right.

I have heard so many stories of gallantry and pure guts since I arrived here that it is difficult for me to begin to tell them. Heroes are not uncommon on this beachhead. I was lucky in my own personal invasion of France. I came in on a comparatively quiet sector.

As General Montgomery has announced, the battle for the beaches has been won. Sometime when we're not so busy, history will record the battle of the Commandos who landed behind the German defenses and so disrupted the Nazis that they were firing at each other. Or of the Canadians who walked point blank into German shellfire to silence these batteries.

And the most glorious single action of the whole invasion was performed by the American assault force. They clung to their position literally by their fingernails. They fought as no Americans have ever fought before. They were outnumbered; out-gunned with odds twenty to one against them.

They took their position coming through a wall of shrapnel, mortar fire, and machine gun bullets that was terrifying. The casualties were high—higher than on any other salient.

LARRY LESUEUR FROM THE NORMANDY BATTLEFRONT
June 18, 1944

ROBERT TROUT: And now Admiral takes you direct to the invasion beachhead in France, Larry LeSueur reporting.

LARRY LESUEUR: This is Larry LeSueur speaking from the American sector of the Normandy battlefront. Tonight the American troops hold the entire neck of the Cherbourg Peninsula firmly in their grip.

The picturesque little town of Bonneville on the western side of the peninsula has been captured, and we are now astride every road leading to Cherbourg. Thus the big French port, with its large garrisons, is cut off from the German Army in the interior of France.

Although today is D-Day plus thirteen, the boys who are up on the front lines still find themselves talking about their adventures on D-Day whenever they get a chance to smoke a cigarette.

My experience was similar to that of many of the men in the 4th Division who made the assault on our beach. The 4th Division has the enviable record of being the last American division to leave Germany after the occupation in the last war, and it was chosen to be one of the first American divisions to land on the continent.

It was very rough on the Channel, and after hours of seasickness we all felt pretty gloomy. Most of us had spent the time resting in our soaking wet [inaudible] waves had crossed over the sides of our little landing craft. But after a sleepless night, D-Day dawned. And we tramped forth from our barge towards tiny personnel assault craft. And with the regimental combat team, we began a rough ride into the beach.

It was a fantastic sight. We could see great geysers of sand shooting up from the beachhead as our planes drenched the area with bombs in great green and yellow flashes. Every time a salvo of bombs hit the beach, our assault craft seemed to bounce back about ten feet. We were the first regimental command post to make the landing.

I don't remember wading ashore—I think I must have just skipped in to get my feet on the ground. Every one of us felt the same way. We didn't care what happened to us as long as we could get off that bucking, bouncing boat.

The din of gunfire was deafening, and the first thing I vividly remember was a little sergeant with a Brooklyn accent. He was standing on the beach, and he said to me with a grin, "Boy, we made it." Out of all things, he handed me a cigar.

The stunned Germans defending the beach were being gathered in, and I remember their tall, blond Nazi captain. Dressed immaculately, he was, and as arrogant as ever. He refused to lie down with the rest of his men, although German shellfire was hitting the beach, and when my colleague Bob Landry of Life magazine tried to take his picture, the Nazi officer turned his back on him and on the whole American landing with deepest scorn.

A few minutes later a German shell hit the beach, and the German captain went down forever. He was killed by his own shellfire.

The colonel of the regiment quickly made contact with his men and led them off the beach across the green watery wastes of the port of Carteret in the rear. We followed them—long, soaking lines of men armed to the teeth. The first tank that tried to cross was hit by a German antitank shell. The second American tank fired one shot at the German antitank gun and silenced it. We were on our way.

In ten minutes I had reached the position of the German gun. It was trained perfectly on the only road by which we could cross. But that first shell had panicked the German gunner, and he had fled leaving his gun perfect condition.

I looked back at the beach from his observation post. With just that one gun he could have held us up on that single road crossing the swamp for hours. Now I could see other German cells docking and pulling up sand on the beach in back of us. And landing craft was going skyward as they hit underwater mines. But I was already inland, and I was glad I had chosen an early landing before the enemy had time to recover from the bombings, the shellings, and his surprise.

The colonel kept pushing ahead—gathering his men, advancing his command post, and sending out the code to wipe out the machine gun nest that harassed us from time to time.

By mid-afternoon, Bob Landry and I were already in the little town of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont some three miles inland. Here we met the paratroops. They were fighting a steep battle with the Germans. While I watched one paratrooper in hand-to-hand combat with a German, a shot rang out from a church steeple, and both the paratrooper and the German fell together—killed by a German bullet from that church.

Other paratroopers immediately turned their attention to the church steeple, tossing grenades as high as they could. And meantime, a Frenchwoman doctor refused to take cover and was giving a wounded paratrooper morphine as he lay wrapped up in his red parachute on the village green.

Whenever the machine guns opened up or a grenade exploded, the French people of the town would run for cover. And as soon as it stopped, they would emerge again. It was a most confusing scene—like a Hollywood movie set, only the dead men littering the streets made it appear real.

It was glowing dusk by this time, and we decided to set down on the grass for the night. Nobody had bedrolls or blankets, but we were wildly excited over the success of the Second Front. As it hit dusk, the planes from England started to come in towing gliders. They put down in fields all around us—meeting us, murderous ground fire from the Germans who seemed to be all around us judging by the screams of color tracers that went up to meet the gliders.

And then I talked to the soldier next to me. He was a youngster from South Carolina, and he'd been carrying a flamethrower all day long. He allowed as to how he was tired and his legs hurt him. I rolled up his pants, and I saw a wicked shrapnel wound in his leg. He had walked all day long with it, and never complained.

Those were the American soldiers on D-Day. And this is Larry LeSueur returning you now to New York.

BILL DOWNS ON THE WESTERN FRONT
June 18, 1944

BILL DOWNS: I have just returned from another one of those "little wars"—an isolated battle which is becoming more and more common in this ever-growing struggle for Europe.

This little war in no way ranks in importance with the American drive across the Cherbourg Peninsula. Everyone on the British-Canadian sector of the front regards the cutting of the peninsula the most important single achievement since the Allied troops crossed the beaches of Normandy. But the Battle of the Hindenburg and Bleecker bastions in which I participated is the perfect example of the type of fighting that is going to occur more and more as our armies advance. I was with the Royal Marine Commandos which took these two strong points. I didn't intend to go with the commandos—it just happened that way.

We haven't been able to tell you before, but just west of the city of Caen, a group of Germans has been holding out for the past ten days in two very strong defense points. These strong points, about one hundred yards apart, were built along the lines of a miniature Maginot Line. They were dug twelve feet into the ground, filled with reinforced concrete with walls three feet thick, and several medium artillery guns. The whole position was set on a rise of ground surrounded by mine fields and an intricate trench system. The Germans were so proud of these defenses that they printed the names "Hindenburg" on one of the super pillboxes and "Bleecker" on the other. The Hindenburg and Bleecker bastions were so strong that it was decided to bypass them on D-Day, and let this group of Nazis stew in their own juice. There was no hurry—the Germans couldn't do much damage there. They were completely isolated and could be cleaned out at will.

Yesterday, the order came to blast them out.

The strange thing about this battle was that to get there, you merely turned off a busy Allied supply route jammed with trucks. You drove a block up another road, parked your jeep up behind the hedge, and on the other side of the hedge was the war. For half an hour, artillery whistled over our heads, bursting all over the Nazi island of resistance. Direct hits sent bits of masonry high into the air—dust from the bursting shells mixed with the black smoke of exploding mines and a burning gasoline dump to darken the sun. We were only some two hundred yards from where the shells were landing, and you had an uncontrollable tendency to duck your head just a little every time a shell came over. The artillery punctuated the barrage with shrapnel shells that burst in the air downward into the trenches. Then the barrage stopped and the tanks moved in. There were a dozen of them approaching from two directions. They crawled forward, their machine guns and heavy guns ripping into the super pillbox. Behind them moved the commandos.

I was watching the battle with Richard McMillan of the United Press. When the tanks moved in, we couldn't see very much so we decided to walk up behind the nearest one and have a look. Out of the embrasures of the two bastions, heavy German machine guns fired in our direction. We clamped down in the tall wheat, but no matter how low you got you still felt as if you were sticking up as high as the Empire State Building.

The funny thing about it was that we weren't particularly frightened. We were too excited to be afraid. McMillan, the British conducting officer, and myself were tremendously surprised to find ourselves in with the commandos. We had followed their attacks so closely that we had actually got caught up in the middle of it.

Up ahead, an assault engineer climbed on top of the Hindenburg bastion and placed a charge of explosives on it. As soon as he lit the fuse he ran like the very devil. We all ducked. The heavy explosion must have blown a hole in the top of the pillbox. Other commandos crept up to this hole and tossed in hand grenades. One explosion set the whole works off. Out of the hole came a German "potato masher" grenade. It was on fire. We ducked again, but it didn't go off.

By this time we had reached the trench system. On both sides of us men were going along the trenches with their Tommy guns. A tank assaulted one of the trenches and behind it was a young radio operator calmly chewing a stalk of wheat, waiting to flash the words that the bastion had been taken. Shouts of "come on out of there you Nazi so-and-sos" and "keep your hands up you such-and-such" announced the arrival of the 1st Troop. Then they began to pop up like prairie dogs. All told, there were between a hundred and fifty and two hundred of them.

For the number of them, the Nazis resisted surprisingly weakly. It took only two squadrons of commandos to dig them out. The tanks merely stood by and watched after they had escorted these troops into position. We lined them up; they were as shaken a group of men as I've ever seen.

There were all shapes and sizes of Nazis. Big ones, little ones, old, and young. But the most surprising discovery made was a large number of ordinary chicken's eggs in the bastion. The surprise was that these eggs were fresh. We could not confirm earlier reports that the Germans had women in the strong point with them. There also was plenty of food, and we shared a bottle of brandy with the victorious commandos. It was a glorious feeling being in on a success like that. But even so, I believe it's the last time that I want to be that close to a practicing commando in action.

This is Bill Downs in Normandy, returning you to the United States.