July 21, 2019

1943. The Aftermath in Stalingrad

The Site of One of Hitler's Greatest Defeats
Soviet soldiers on the roof of a factory shop in Stalingrad in 1942 (Photo by Arkady Shaikhetsource)
Bill Downs first arrived in Russia to cover the Eastern Front on December 25, 1942. He and other foreign correspondents were taken to Stalingrad just days after the German surrender there in February 1943.

During their long journey the group came across the broken, humiliated Axis commanders in Soviet captivity, including Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, whose 6th Army had just been destroyed. The press group then entered the city, where they passed bodies strewn along the streets and came across the wreckage at Mamayev Kurgan, the site of some of the worst fighting of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Recalling the experience in a broadcast, Downs said: "There are sights and sounds and smells in and around Stalingrad that make you want to weep, and make you want to shout and make you just plain sick to your stomach."

This text has been adapted from a transcript cabled to CBS in New York. The passages in parentheses were censored by Soviet officials for military security or propaganda reasons.
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

February 8, 1943

The Foreign Office press department summoned the foreign press corps with a mysterious 6 p.m. phone call. They informed us we were leaving for Stalingrad at 8 a.m. the next morning. The trip was extremely hush-hush, although it had been announced that fighting had ceased in Stalingrad the day before. We were warned to dress warmly and take five days' worth of food.

I rushed back to the hotel and collected hard boiled eggs, a slab of smoked fish, sugar, two loaves of bread, and most important of all, a liter of vodka, which is Russia's most important personal antifreeze.

The next morning I dressed with three pairs of wool socks under fur boots, two pairs of wool underwear, a wool shirt, two sweaters, a ski jacket, a fur hat, and a fur coat—and I was among the lightest dressed in the party. Someone told me it was a mild winter.

The five hour plane trip in a comfortable Douglas transport was spent recalling hundreds of stories of Stalingrad's four and a half months of concentrated hell, which was worse than Coventry's, Rotterdam's, Warsaw's, or London's—anything Hitler had been able to do to cities opposing him.

The Douglas landed at an obscure little airfield 50 miles north of Stalingrad on steppes which looked like the Texas panhandle or Dakota plains buttered with about three feet of snow. The biting northwest wind of the Kalmyk Steppe made me look down at my legs to see whether I was not wearing a bathing suit.

The airfield was a former fighter-bomber base located in the area where the northern arm of the Red Army's tremendous encirclement of west Stalingrad started. We sheltered in a group of a half dozen peasant farmhouses which formed a tractor station for the surrounding wheat country.

We wondered how in the hell the Russians were able to concentrate an offensive army in these treeless, hill-less steppes without German reconnaissance discovering their striking power. That's mystery number one—or mistake number one—which was one of the major factors for the German defeat at Stalingrad.

At nightfall we headed southward to another peasant farm village where we were liberally fed and tried to warm our freezing hands and feet, to the amusement of Red Army men and women who were interested in foreigners.

We traveled by bus some 60 miles to a point 35 miles directly west of Stalingrad, where the next day we were taken to the headquarters of the commander of the Stalingrad front, Colonel General Konstantin Rokossovsky, who now takes a place as one of the great generals of history. Rokossovsky passed us en route to Moscow, where he went to the Kremlin to be awarded the Order of Suvorov for Stalingrad. We herded into a small peasant house where chairs were lined up like in a classroom, with desks in the corner and a map on the wall.

In walked a medium-sized Red Army general, his breast lined with several medals, dressed in a simple uniform on which the Red Army's new epaulets had yet to be sewn. He is Lieutenant General Mikhail Malinin, chief of staff for the Stalingrad front and one of the men responsible for putting into operation plans for the encirclement of the German 6th Army.

Malinin looked 35, square-faced with hair in a short pompadour which stuck up like a schoolboy's. The only sign of age was the sprinkling of gray hairs around the temples. He picked up a stick with which to point to the map. He looked as out of place standing at the front of that schoolroom as a schoolteacher would have looked in a front-line Stalingrad trench.

Malinin started speaking slowly and deliberately and explained that he wanted to outline briefly the details of the Red Army's encirclement movement where it started.

"Hitler sent his best troops—the German 6th Army—against Stalingrad, containing his crack infantry, tank, and motorized divisions," he said. Continuing in the same matter-of-fact tone, he said that as German forces moved toward the Volga, they created for themselves a sort of second front on the northern flank, "and the task of the defenders was not to give up the city."
Red Army soldiers on the Stalingrad front patrol the snow-covered steppes (source)
Malinin has been in three wars—in addition to the Russian Civil War and the Finnish War, he fought on the Moscow and Smolensk fronts in this war. He formerly was on the faculty of a Red Army military school.

(Malinin said that "Russian resistance forced the Germans to continually send up reinforcements. During the month of October and the first part of November was the fiercest fighting. The Germans continued to pour in huge reinforcements. But by the middle of November there was a certain equilibrium of strength. The Soviet High Command took advantage of its own forces at this time and ordered an offensive aimed at destroying both the Stalingrad and Don front troops of the enemy.")

(This certain equilibrium which Malinin referred to represented the greatest fighting retreat in the history of warfare. It was one place where the Red Army for the first time definitely stopped an Axis advance on the southern sector of the Russian front since the Axis invaded Kiev eighteen months earlier.)

Malinin then explained the great pincer movement (which launched simultaneously on November 19 one hundred miles northwest and some distance southeast of Stalingrad. This blow was so well-timed that in the first four days the northern and southern forces each advanced 55 miles on schedule, and the threat of encirclement became evident.)

Malinin said "the German High Command apparently was unconcerned because they evidently planned to bring up a powerful groups of reinforcements from Kotelnikovo anyway. However, the genius of this plan directed by Joseph Stalin foresaw this and even predicted that the Germans would attempt to relieve the group. Thus the Red Army prepared for it. The Germans did just what we thought they would do. They were engaged and routed at Kotelnikovo. We captured the original Paulus order to commanders not to receive Red Army emissaries who advanced under white flag to present an ultimatum. This order specified that this peace delegation was to be fired upon—the exact translation read 'to see emissaries off the premises with fire.'"

Malinin said that American and British equipment played very little part in the Battle of Stalingrad. "We had a small number of British tanks—Churchill tanks—but not enough to take into consideration when reckoning the entire offensive. Where they were used, they stood up well under test. No American tanks or planes were used in the battle. There were some American Dodge trucks, but they don't shoot."

The interviews ended and we filed out of headquarters feeling like we had just taken a college examination for a master's degree in history.

However, the Red Army moves fast, and they took us to a nearby village with a dozen or so scattered unpainted houses around which they posted heavy guard. The conducting Red Army colonel motioned us inside one house. There we found four German generals sitting around a table looking at each other, one in a sweater and the other three in full regalia. In the next room were four others standing and looking out the window, and sitting in the corner looking despondent was woebegone General [Romulus] Dimitriu, the onetime glorified Romanian general.

The Germans in the first room got politely to their feet, smiling sheepishly. These men were Hitler's super-generals, leading super-Aryans against an inferior tribe. The only sign of their "super-ness" now were the magnificent decorations of iron crosses displayed on their uniforms like pictures on a gallery wall.

The German generals of the first group included [Otto] Renoldi, Schlömer, Deboi, and Von Daniels. All fought in the last war and are damn proud of it. We were whisked through the room and had little chance to question them, but when they heard were were American correspondents, Schlömer and Renoldi began long conversations about how they like cigarettes of the American type and had used up their ration of Russian cigarettes. Not a single reporter responded to their hint to give them a smoke. I believe if anyone had, he would have been tackled by the entire press corps when we got outside. These generals were getting a Red Army officer's rations according to the Hague Convention, which is too much considering the kind of rats they are.

In the next room Von Drebber, who looks more like a college professor than a military man, dominated the group which included such nasty types as [Hans] Wulz, who is a small, bald-headed, potbellied Prussian who only managed to squeeze out an unenthusiastic "Heil."

Von Drebber, six feet four inches tall, was asked what primary factors led to his defeat. He drew himself up and politely replied: "The Russians struck from the north and south—we were simply sitting in the middle. We were surrounded, cut off with no munitions and no food."

We tried again asking why they didn't try to break out of encirclement. Von Drebber said: "At one time we could have broken the ring—but you will have to ask Marshal Paulus about questions of strategy."

He was asked if he had Hitler's permission to surrender. Von Drebber said: "I was ordered by Paulus to hold until I pushed back to a certain line. When I reached that line I surrendered."
Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, commander of the Wehrmacht 6th Army, and his adjutant Wilhelm Adam (left) are escorted to the Soviet 64th Army headquarters following the German surrender at Stalingrad, January 31, 1943 (source)
Then we asked Wulz, who is an artillery general, how Russian artillery compared to German artillery. He made a whining, inconsequential answer that "every army has good and bad guns, good and bad artillery—that's how it is with the Russian and German armies."

Schlömer, who was stationed in another house, said however: "The Red Army fought well everywhere we met them."

But the most revealing statements came from Von Arnim and [Fritz] Roske. Roske was asked how the Russians broke them down. Von Arnim interrupted: "That question is badly put. You should ask how we managed to hold out under such conditions."

Roske ignored Von Arnim's remark with a brief statement: "Hunger, cold, and lack of munitions."

However, the Russian colonel was anxious to show us the Red Army's prize exhibit and rushed us to a small farmhouse sitting apart from the others. We gathered outside around the doorway while a grinning Mongolian soldier—definitely non-Aryan—looked down on us.

The door opened and out came Paulus, poker-faced except for a tic which spasmodically twitched from eye to mouth on the right side of his face. He is 53 but looked 65, his face lined and yellowish—almost the same yellowish color of the frozen corpses of men he left lying in gutters in Stalingrad.

Accompanying him was his personal aide, Colonel Adam, a flat-faced Teuton who looked like a slightly overweight ball of concentrated Nazism, and Paulus' chief of staff, General Schmidt, who looked like he'd be happier running a Berlin butcher shop. All men were dressed in fur caps pulled down over their ears against the subzero cold. Paulus answered only two questions, which he appeared to do with effort. He said his first name was Friedrich and that he is 53.

The standing and gazing captured Nazis in those overheated peasant houses, as well as that bare peasant yard where Paulus was held, gave the same feeling one gets when looking in a snake pit at a zoo. But the obvious comparison that strikes when looking at German officers and German soldiers is that the officers are always well-clad while the soldiers are just the opposite. And standing there in that obscure peasant village, these much decorated gold-braided groups of Nazi bigwigs reminded you of a flock of sad-eyed peacocks standing with distaste in a hen run.

The conducting colonel loaded us into drafty buses for a 60 mile trip to Stalingrad. By nightfall the temperature dropped to 40 below, and we started out on a twelve hour, all night trip through snow to Stalingrad.

We would have made the trip sooner when we ran into a Russian supply column moving westward from Stalingrad toward new battlefields. There was a long black line of soldiers, horses, mobile kitchens, guns, and cars. It was an unbelievable sight out there in the steppes to come upon so many people slowly moving along the snow-choked road. But the most unbelievable of all was the sight of camels pulling sledges in three feet of snow.

As we made our way slowly along the road against traffic, a curious Red Army man came up to our bus, looked in, grinned and asked: "Deutschen Soldaten?"

When we explained we were Americans he immediately called all his comrades and soon there was a great crowd around our bus. We passed out cigarettes and someone made a speech with the general theme of friendship between the Soviet Union and the United States. Russians will make a speech at the drop of the hat, but it gave you a warm feeling overcoming even the steppe temperatures to get such a demonstration of friendship at two o'clock in the morning in the swirling snow and wind 30 miles east of Stalingrad on the world's bloodiest battlefield.

We arrived in Stalingrad at about 4 a.m. The driver seemed anxious to get there. We drove around for two hours. The only thing in sight were the dark ruins where we spotted fires which sentries cluttered around to keep warm.

Our driver finally pulled up to one of these fires, and when he got out he was crying. Our interpreter explained that the driver had once lived in Stalingrad and had not been back to the city since the battle. "He can't find any street that he knows," the interpreter explained. "He hasn't yet recognized a house."

This is because there were no houses. The streets were just auto tracks over ruins up and down through bombshell holes. This was the Red October factory district, parts of which changed hands a half dozen times during the fighting.

As the sun came up the scene of devastation was so great it made a lump in your throat. This was the worker's factory district's small homes. These homes were absolutely flat. Not even a gracious blanket of snow could cover the destruction they suffered.

Characteristic of all bombings I have seen in Britain, one of the most indestructible items of furniture in any home is the iron bedstead. It is the same in Stalingrad. The grave of every home is marked by charred headpieces of beds sticking up like tombstones over what was a peaceful home. Occasionally one could mark where a street once existed by looking closely at poles sticking six or seven feet out of the ground. These once were telephone poles which stuck ten to twelve feet up. Now they looked like blasted trees.

Sentries told us that, believe it or not, some civilians holed up in their basements and stuck through the whole bombardment. These included some women who did washing and cooking for the Red Army.

What these people suffered cannot even be imagined. When they were without food, they were forced to forage and risk bombshells. Horse meat was considered a delicacy, and sometimes bread. But they stuck through it, although many are not there to tell their story.
Soldiers of the Soviet 62nd Army walk past dugouts constructed on the banks of the Volga, 1942 (source)
At daybreak we were directed to the headquarters of the 62nd Army, which is credited for saving the city of Stalingrad. The headquarters is built into the side of a western bluff on the Volga near the bottom of a hundred foot high clay cliff. We were led up this cliff to dugouts—zemlyankas—small timber-roofed caves dug into the side of the cliff from where the Red Army held the Germans from establishing themselves on the bank of Russia's greatest river. Just three days earlier the Germans had been only 300 yards away from my zemlyanka. But I slept well—they are now fighting on a line 200 miles away.

Rising above the Volga bluff is Stalingrad's famous Hill 102, Mamayev Kurgan, which the Germans held and placed heavy artillery. The hill commands a view of the entire city as well as the Volga, over which the Red Army's vital supply lines are held. The summit of Mamayev Kurgan is only about a quarter mile from the Volga, and between it and the river are the Red October and Red Barricades factories. Beyond these plants is the high Volga bank wherein zemlyankas are located. This is where some of the bitterest fighting occurred.

We walked single file along a narrow path through the factory. There was little need to remind us the factory was mined, as every minute or so there was a shattering explosion of rock wreckage in a nearby district which Red Army sappers were de-mining.

The Red October factory once made steel for tractors and farm implements. With the war it switched over to tank armaments. After the Battle of Stalingrad the whole plant is now simply a junk heap. The Germans took almost the entire building after it was mercilessly shelled and bombed flat. The only portions of the factory still standing are extremely heavy girders which once held cranes. All other buildings are flat. There literally was not a piece of sheet iron roofing or shovel or piece of metal sticking four inches above ground which didn't have bullet shrapnel or fragment holes through it.

It was in this factory that we saw our first German dead. They were lying at the bottom of a large bomb crater with only their bare feet sticking up. Most of Red October's bodies had been cleaned up earlier.

The de-mined path through the factory led across wreckage and craters. We passed a German dugout in perfectly good condition, clean and well-kept. Beside it stood a sentry, and a sign on the door warned: "Keep Away—This Booby Trap."

The path ended at the most forward-line trenches the Germans held at the factory. These lines are on a small hill facing another factory building which still had two walls standing. The Russians held positions in the factory building which I paced, measuring twelve yards. It was here that some brilliant conversations between warring men occurred. This Russian factory position once manufactured consumer goods. Red Army men did their fighting here among dishpans, skillets, and shovels that littered the floor.
Soviet soldiers fighting in the destroyed Red October factory during the Battle of Stalingrad, January 1943 (source)
The only ordinary looking battlefield we saw was Mamayev Kurgan. This hill is terraced in a series of five foot shelves, and there was a recently planted apple orchard with young saplings about four feet high. There is absolutely no cover, and looking down it from German gun positions are trenches. It appeared that a single squad of machine gunners could hold against advancing infantry forces indefinitely.

Correspondents had trouble even walking over the slick snow uphill in broad daylight. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for the Soviet soldiers who only a few weeks earlier negotiated slopes under a hail of bullets, artillery shrapnel, and dive bombers. The only statement on the subject I could get from a former Red Army man was a private who grimly admitted: "It was tough."

But once they took positions atop the first ridge a really tough job still awaited. The Germans for weeks held two almost impregnable fortresses atop the hill. They were two circular water tanks about ten feet apart. The tanks were about 50 feet in diameter, dug 30 feet into the ground with about 15 feet of reinforced concrete surfaces sticking above ground. Around the tops these Germans threw earth embankment, forming a shell-proof, bomb-proof position virtually impregnable—until the Red Army decided to take it.

The battlefield before these two fortresses was like any battlefield of the First World War. There were wrecked tanks, smashed Russian and German helmets, empty shell case remnants, and smashed guns. There were bodies which had not yet been cleaned up. There were pieces of mortars, bombs, grenades, and strips of machine gun bullets.

The Russians finally took position by digging trenches up to the fortresses and then launching an infantry assault from there. Tanks were no good, only bayonets, grenades, and Tommy guns were effective in the final clean-out.
The southern part of the eastern slope of the hill Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad in 1943 right after the battle. A destroyed Renault UE Chenillette, a French armored carrier used by the Wehrmacht, sits in the foreground (source)
But the greatest shock came when we entered the city of Stalingrad proper. The way Stalingrad is laid out is strip factory districts stretching northward along the Volga, with worker's districts connected by bus and streetcar lines. These settlements were marked by wreckage. Streetcars which ran between community centers now stood burned out, wrecked on what was left of their tracks. Store shops along Communist Street—which is the main highway connecting these settlements—now only had a few walls left. About every quarter mile on Communist Street the Germans built barricades eight feet high, consisting of two fences built five feet apart and filled in with dirt bricks and rubble from nearby houses.

As we approached the city center with its modern buildings, there were more and more signs of increased fighting. Around the ground floor windows, many of which were sandbagged with apertures for machine guns, there were countless chinks made by bullets or holes made by shells.

As we neared the town square called "Heroes of the Revolution" we could see bodies in doorways or behind barricades or lying on sidewalks. Fragments of letters and photographs from home, all written in German, littered streets—letters from Berlin and Hamburg starting out with "Mein Lieber Karl," or Heinrich or Heinz.

There was not a single manhole in Stalingrad's streets with a cover. Germans and Russians not only used the city's basements, housetops, and alleys for battlegrounds, but the sewers as well. Snipers were known to crawl through sewers and come out behind German positions to create panic.

You could almost arm a full division with equipment lying about Stalingrad's ruined streets. Grenades clutter gutters. Full machine gun belts lie across sidewalks, and mortars are a dime a dozen.

Veterans of the Stalingrad fight said it was not uncommon to find Russian and German soldiers locked in each other's death grip during the height of the fighting. That was the way these two armies locked in the city of Stalingrad fought until the Red Army proved itself more powerful and skilled and brought the Wehrmacht to its knees.

Returning to my zemlyanka after this trip through Stalingrad, I went to the headquarters kitchen to ask for a drink of water. The Red Army girl dipped some out of a bucket with a tin cup. The water was cold and clean and good, and I told her so: "Your vodka and wine are great but nothing is better than this water."

She threw back her head and replied: "It ought to be. It's Volga water. It's got Russian blood in it."

July 19, 2019

1951. Anatomy of a Korean War Correspondent

What Makes War Correspondents Run
Korean War correspondent Marguerite Higgins reviewing maps in October 1950 (Photo by Carl Mydanssource)
Article by Bob Considine in the June 1951 edition of Esquire, pp. 18-26:
Inside INSIDE

By BOB CONSIDINE

What makes war correspondents run, covering Wars I through II½, and especially Miss Higgins

A war correspondent is a foreign correspondent without a black Homburg. Other than that they strike no average, seldom shape up into a type, except when they are created by Hollywood or the stage. They all wear Abercrombie & Fitch trench coats, talk in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Jimmy Cagney with lockjaw, and advise the living hell out of generals.

Foreign correspondents are smoother and duller than war correspondents. And slicker. A war correspondent who is hard-pressed for something to write will interview another war correspondent. A foreign correspondent quickly learns to eliminate one-half of that assembly. He interviews himself, in moments of great stress, and only his inherent modesty (and a lively terror of the New York office) keeps him from revealing that he, in truth, is the "anonymous but unimpeachable source close to the heart of the tinderbox situation in the Balkans."

But let us take quick leave of the foreign correspondent. We'll concern ourselves here with overseas reporters who get a war on their hands. What they do about that problem is pretty much up to each one individually. And no three are alike.

War correspondents come short and tall, fat and lean, good and worse, brave and gutless, just like other tradesmen. They come sentimental and they come case-hardened. The ones who have learned (or knew all along) how to pour the sweet syrup get the most readers—because war, for all its savage nature, arouses torrents of sentiment and sentimentality where most of the reading is done, on the home front.

One vaguely recognizable type of war correspondent (loosely grouped in that he seldom wears his uniform except to the general's parties) is the fellow who must stay so far behind the actual fighting that, well, he sees a lot of the general. This sometimes sedentary hack is the headquarters man. Usually he is a fellow sprung loose from the rewrite desk back home and sent abroad because he knows exactly how to meld the scattered mercury droplets of news—news from the ground, air and sea correspondents—and wrap up the stuff in a compact lead fit for Page One, Column Eight.

Big-verb man, this fellow. Especially if he is covering for a wire service. When he makes that fast hard decision as to which of the droplets to feature in his lead, he then must come up with that living, breathing, spitting verb that is going to guarantee his lead a better reception and play, back home, than the similar leads of his part-time pals from the other wire services.

For him, our side just can't be dismissed with the notation that it "won" from the enemy. Our side must "barrel" through to victory; or "sledge-hammer," "mash," "annihilate," "exterminate" or "wreak utter destruction."

Why? Well, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus behind the various telegraph editors' desks in the newspaper shops of the land. Instead, it's a thin Joe with a permanent furrow in his brow and a case of ulcers à la mode, which is an ulcer on an ulcer. He barely survives the tidal wave of wire-service copy that floods his desk by keeping one flaring nostril above the surging hyperbole. This posture adds nothing to the sweetness of his disposition. Besides, his best man on the copy desk is drunk and so he must select, from the wire-service leads concerning the war, the one story which practically will write its own head. That's where the value of the arresting verb comes in.

The headquarters man tends to develop a curvature of the spine if his war lasts long enough. That comes from looking down on short, wind-broken briefing officers, who supply him with the Old Man's concept of what the hell's happening way up front, or from looking up at maps which are pinned too high on the briefing-room walls to make much sense. Except on those rare occasions when the headquarters city is bombed, as was London when it was possessed with headquarters of E.T.O., the only raids to which he is exposed are the occasional M.P. sorties against some parlor of debauchery to which our man has repaired to escape a "rocket" from the home office. A "rocket" is a message which says:
DOAKES

UTTERNEWS

GRAUSTARK

OPPOSITION UPPLAYING MACARTHUR LORDS PRAYER SMASHINGEST STOP YOU DOWN-PLAYED STOP NOW PLEASE QUESTION MARK STOP
Because he is generally a little older than the brave bulls in the field, and his feet are beginning to feel better in slippers, our headquarters man gravitates toward domesticity. A well housebroken man, he begins to miss the wife and kids with something akin to the sad yearning for his old Buick, which had a nice pickup. This sometimes drives him into leasing an apartment or house, which in turn drives him back to such literary circles as his favorite bar. When this palls on him, and the weather turns brisk, he sometimes tries to relieve the bad-housing situation by inviting a courageous native patriot to share his bed and board. Simultaneously he discovers that nearly every courageous native patriot is a girl.

In a majority of these rare cases, the courageous native patriot eventually learns that there is more loneliness than lechery in her patron. So, with high resolve and determination to mend her life, she moves on to some worthier calling, like living with a colonel. She gives the correspondent custody of his "rockets."

Then there's the correspondent who lives with the Infantry or the Marines, dropping back now and then to the crudely fashioned field PIO (it's that red brick schoolhouse over there, Mac; where the hell did you think it would be) to lick his wounds or write his pieces—if that ain't redundant. As soon as he has seen action he regards the headquarters man as a copeless fuddy who doesn't know his brass from a foxhole. Too, he regards the correspondents who picked or were assigned to the Navy and Air Force in the same light that he regards the well-uniformed Hollywood U.S.O. hambones who carry there own mimeograph machines with them.

The front-line Joe lives like a hybrid of a private and a general. He shares the dirt and dangers of the private when out on a patrol or when his face is in the mud of a pinned-down command post. But he has the mobility of a general: that is, he usually has his own jeep, more dough in his pocket, and he doesn't have to ask anybody's permission to get the blue blazes out of there when he's had enough.

Some get fed up, or have enough, quicker than others. But the trend is toward more and more bravery on the part of these correspondents. They did things in World War II½, in Korea, that far outshone anything their colleagues did in W.W. II. They ventured into spots where angels and Richard Harding Davis would not have dared to tread. In doing so they diluted what used to be one of the more arresting war stories: the death or blood-letting of a correspondent. For a time in Korea they were getting knocked off at a rate calculated to place the misfortunes of successors in the agate type of the soldier casualties.

The model of some of them in Korea seemed to be Ernie Pyle. In 1945, at a flea-bitten place named Ie Jima, Ernie had graphically shown his predecessors exactly how close a fellow must get to get it. Ernie left the latter-day front-line correspondents a stern heritage which weighed heavily on them in Korea: the acceptance of death as well as life with troops, and the onerous need for getting names and hometowns. To wit:
With a 2-Man Patrol Near Poontang, Oct. 13 (Friday)—"Blub" said Pfc. Herman J. Mickolajczyk, of 3974 Quagmire Terrace, Oswatomie, Kansas, today when an enemy mortar made a direct hit on his plastic helmet.

Corp. Manny "Killer" Goldfarb, of 23613 Grand Concourse, The Bronx, New York, nodded knowingly.
The Korean War, whose front-line correspondents sometimes bitterly referred to themselves as police reporters, produced two additions to the now involved array of war historians.

The first was the young ex-serviceman turned correspondent, often a former Marine who had seen grueling action in the Pacific as a slightly younger man before picking up a newspaper or radio job during the five quick years of peace that led to the following war. This lad had a contempt of fear that made some holdover correspondents from the other war avoid him like the plague. He knew how to use the gun which was thrust into the hands of correspondents working out of Taegu, Masan and such places. He was in much better physical condition than other correspondents and knew more about fighting than did a vast majority of the troops he wrote about. Some of them seemed to revel in the hot fights in which they found themselves engaged—like kids getting back to a favorite game which had been barred to them for five years. These are the forerunners of the front-line correspondents of World War III and the wars beyond that. They're just better at that sort of work, and somebody in the accounting offices on the papers or wire services back home will make the happy discovery that these fellows will work for less dough than will the front-line stars of World War II.

Up front, correspondents get along well together, despite the temperature of their competition. They swap stories more often than the writers and speakers of the rear areas, and have been known to share perilously won scoops. What they will not tolerate is a colleague who fakes a dangerous date line . . . that is, if he begins his story with a heading that goes something like, "Inside Wingding with the First Cavalry," when, as a matter of fact, he is not inside the city.

But breaks like that are seldom made. For the sake of a single beat (which might find a wastebasket after it gets to the office) few reporters will risk alienating the affectations and co-operation of men with whom they must continue working.

Korea's second contribution to the realm of war correspondence was the arrival of The Ladies. Sure, they had skirted the edges of World War II, and a few of them like Lee Carson and Inez Robb had done more than skirt. But in Korea they landed with both feet, and if they aren't in war to stay, I'm a monkey's aunt.

Their presence on the front in Korea shocked many a male reporter but probably none of the shockees was given more of a jolt than the veteran Australian war correspondent, Jack Percival. With his mind filled with the impending reunion with such masculine pen pals from the last war as Frank Conniff, Hal Boyle, Don Whitehead, Homer Bigart, Bill Downs, Jimmy Cannon and Bill Lawrence, Percival stumbled into the blacked-out press camp at Taegu one blistering night and, finding the camp asleep, lay down on his blanket for a little shuteye. But there was no chance. The body next to him was snoring sonorously, and answering with an alto snore. Jack pondered this for a time, then remembered an article he had read years before in Coronet. It had contained a suggestion that snoring could be stopped by turning the body of the snorer over on the stomach.

Jack reached out in the darkness to a lay a hand on the snorer, and something akin to lightning or a reasonable facsimile shot up his arm. His quivering arm stayed in the same position for a full minute, while he tried to make his astonished mind realize that somehow, as preposterously incredible as it seemed, he was holding a breast, Jack leaped up and fled for fresh air, to revive his sanity. And outside he confided to an incoming correspondent his unbelievable experience. The correspondent yawned.

"We're getting lousy with them," he said, and turned in.

Lest one suspects from the above that the Korean front at times resembled a bacchanal, let him promptly dismiss the thought. If anything, the girls were resented by their male counterparts. Their bravery was annoying or embarrassing, especially the abundance of that commonly possessed by Marguerite Higgins of the New York Herald Tribune. From the beginning of the fighting, she made men correspondents solemnly agree that it's damned unnerving to be huddling in a hole, frightened, and look up long enough to see a good-looking babe moving up closer to the fighting.

One day while out on a dangerous patrol action, Miss Higgins and the handful of troops she was following were pinned down by a heavy mortar attack. She and the young G.I. hit a ditch simultaneously and lay there close together as the enemy moved closer. Soon it was apparent that the little group would be wiped out.

In this awful moment, Miss Higgins is reputed to have said, "Well, I've had a full and interesting life. I don't mind dying."

The young G.I. at her side yelled, "Maybe so, lady, but goddammit don't go including me!"

Apocryphal or not, there doesn't seem to be any other way of ending this, except to tip my hat respectfully to the current crop of war correspondents, and to repair to the nearest public house to bestir the memories of the dead ones with Scotch on the Rocks. One gets himself a mess of grave misgivings every time a newspaper or radio pal has himself blown to kingdom come while attending to the dirty legwork of war. I don't know one dead one from W.W. II or Korea who is remembered with anything except great tenderness. There weren't any better soldiers, living or dead, than the dead who recorded the plight of the accredited fighters. They gave their lives for much more than love or fear of the gruff bastards in editorial chairs back home. They gave their lives in the great cause of translating the tedium and horror of war into words that enabled the people at home to understand and weigh. They fought throttling brass-hat censorship with a vehemence worthy of that menacing foe.

At the headquarters of the Overseas Press Club of America, in the old New York Times building, we have a gallery of pictures of dead correspondents. It gets larger. If we get into a toe-to-toe brawl with Russia that gallery will fill a wall, and the free world will be poorer for the number of pictures it holds. War correspondents have little knack for phrasing nice plaques to go with pictures of the dead. They fear the element of corn more than they fear almost anything else. So . . . if all goes well . . . we hope someday to tack a neat little bronze over those pictures at our club. And it will be inscribed: SEE YOU LATER.