GENERAL EDDY, HEAD OF 9TH DIVISION, IGNORES SHELLING TO VISIT HIS MEN

By Ernie Pyle

NOMANDY—ONE of the favorite generals among war correspondents is Maj. Gen. Manton S. Eddy, commander of the Ninth Division. We like him because he is absolutely honest with us, because he is sort of old-shoe and easy to talk with and because we think he is a mighty good general. We have known him in Tunisia, Sicily and now here in France.



general eddy

Major General Manton S. Eddy

Like his big chief, Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Gen. Eddy looks more like a school teacher than a soldier. He is a big, tall man, but wears glasses and his eyes have sort of a squint. He talks like a Middlewesterner, which he is. He still claims Chicago as home, although he has been an Army officer for 28 years.

He was wounded in the last war. He is not glib, but he talks well and laughs easily in spite of being a professional soldier. He despises war and like any ordinary soul is appalled by waste and the tragedy of it.

When the General is in the field he lives in a truck that used to be a machine shop. They have fixed it up nicely for him with bed, desk, cabinets and rugs. His orderly is an obliging dark-skinned sergeant who is a native of Ecuador. Some of his officers sleep in foxholes, but the General sleeps in his truck. One night, however, while I was with his division, it got too hot even for him. Fragments from shells bursting near by started hitting the top of the truck, so he got out.

Tours In Afternoon

Usually he stays at his desk during the morning and makes a tour of regimental and battalion command posts during the afternoon. Usually he goes to the front in an unarmed jeep with another jeep right behind him carrying machine-gunner and riflemen, on the alert for snipers. His drivers say when they start out, “Hold on, for the General doesn’t spare the horses when he’s traveling.”

He carries a portable telephone in his jeep and if he suddenly wants to talk with any of his units he just stops along the road and plugs into one of the wires that are lying on the ground.



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General Eddy communicates by phone with his forward troops

General Eddy especially likes to show up in places where his soldiers wouldn’t expect to see him. He knows that it helps soldier’s spirits to see their commanding general right up at the front, where it is hot, so he walks around the front with his long stride, never ducking or appearing or appearing to be concerned at all. One day I rode around with him on one of his tours. At one command post we were sitting on grass under a tree looking at maps with a group of officers around us. Our own artillery was banging near by, but nothing was coming our way. Then, like a flash of lightning, there came a shell just over our heads, so low, it went right through the treetops, it seemed. It didn’t whine; it swished. Everybody, including full colonels, flopped over and began grabbing grass. The shell exploded in the next orchard. General Eddy didn’t move. He just said, “Why, that was one of our shells,” and since I had known Gen. Eddy for quite a while I was bold enough to say:

General, if that was one of ours, all I can say that this is a hell of a way to run a war. We’re fighting toward the north and that shell was going due south.”

The General also likes to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning once in a while and go poking around into message centers and mess halls giving the boys a start. It was one of these night meanderings that produced his favorite story. It was in Africa and they were in a new bivouac. It was raining cats and dogs and the ground was knee-deep in mud. The tent pegs wouldn’t stay in and pup tents kept coming down. Everybody was wet and miserable, so late at night the General started out on foot around the area, “just because he felt so sorry for all the kids out there.”

As he walked he passed a soldier trying to re-drive the stake that held down the front of his pup tent. The soldier was using his steel helmet as a hammer and he was having a bad time of it. Every now and then he would miss the stake with the helmet and would splash mud all over himself. He was cussing and fuming. The General was using his flashlight, and when the soldier saw the light he called out, “Hey, bud, come and hold that light for me, will you?” So General Eddy obediently squatted down and held the light while the soldier pounded and spattered mud and they finally got the peg driven. Then as they got up the General said: “Soldier, what’s your name?”

The startled soldier gasped, leaned forward and looked closely, then blurted out, “God Almighty.”



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