ONE DAY IN FOUR IN NORMANDY IS NICE, BUT IT’S ALWAYS DAMP

By Ernie Pyle

SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE–All American soldiers here are impressed by the loveliness of the Normandy countryside. Except for swampy places, it is almost a dreamland of beauty, everything is so green and rich and natural-looking. There are no fences, as such. All the little fields are bordered either by high trees or by earthen ridges built up about waist high, and now after many centuries completely covered with grass, shrubbery, ferns and flowers.

Normandy differs from English landscape mainly in that rural England is fastidiously trimmed and cropped like a Venetian garden, while in Normandy the grass needs cutting and the hedgerows are wild and everything is less of neatness and more of the way nature makes it.

Main roads in Normandy are macadam and the side roads gravel. The roads are winding, narrow and difficult for heavy military traffic. In many places we have made roads one-way for miles at a stretch.



The average American finds the climate of Normandy abominable even in June. We have about one nice day in three bad days. On nice days the sky is clear blue and the sun is out and everything seems wonderful except that there is still a hidden chill in the air, and even in your tent or under a shade tree you are cold. On a bad day the whole universe is dark and you need lights in your tent at noontime. It drizzles or sprinkles, and often cold wind blows and your bones and your heart, too, are miserable.

Most everybody has on his long underwear. I wear four sweaters in addition to my regular uniform. Overcoats were taken away from our troops before we left England, and there are a lot of our boys not too warmly clad. There is constant dampness in the air. At night you put your clothes under your bedroll or they are wet in the morning.

All this dampness makes for ruddy cheeks and green grass, but ruddy cheeks are for girls and green grass is for cows, and personally I find the ordinary American is happiest when he is good and not stinking hot.

It is a custom throughout our Army, as you doubtless know, for soldiers to paint names on their vehicles. They have names on airplanes, tanks, jeeps, trucks, guns and practically everything that moves. Sometimes they have girls’ names and often they are trick names such as “Sad Sack” or “Invasion Blues” or “Hitler’s Menace.” Well, the boys have already started painting French names on their vehicles. I saw a jeep named “Bientot,” which means “soon,” and a motorcycle named “Char de Mort,” which means “chariot of death.” Pretty soon we will be seeing jeeps named “Yvonne” and “Ma Petite Cherie.”

ernie pyle

Ernie Pyle working on one of his front line dispatches



For Further Reading Check Out:

Brave Men By Ernie Pyle


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