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Post Hemingway at Battle of Bulge: Antony Beevor
Created by John Eipper on 02/11/15 12:22 PM

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Hemingway at Battle of Bulge: Antony Beevor (Nigel Jones, UK, 02/11/15 12:22 pm)

Regarding the ongoing discussion on "Papa" Hemingway (as he liked to style himself, though by all accounts he was a lousy father), I am currently reading Antony Beevor's forthcoming book Ardennes 1944, and came across this vignette about Hem during the savage battle of the Hurtgen Forest:

"Hemingway, again armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun despite the recent inquiry into his martial activities, was also carrying two canteens, one filled with schnapps and the other with cognac. He certainly demonstrated his own fearlessness under fire on several occasions, and even took part in one battle. Journalism was not high on his priorities. He referred to himself mockingly as "Old Ernie Hemorrhoid, the poor Poor Man's Pyle," in a mild jibe against Ernie Pyle, the most famous American war correspondent. But he studied the men around him and their conduct under fire because he had plans for writing the great American novel about the war... J.D. Salinger, little more than a mile away with the 12th Infantry Regiment, continued to write short stories furiously throughout the hellish battle, whenever, as he told his reader, he could find an unoccupied foxhole. This activity seems at least to have postponed Salinger's own psychological collapse until the end of the war."

[Later, following the German breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge.]

"Ernest Hemingway heard of the German attack at the Ritz on the Place Vendome where he was installed with his paramour Mary Welsh [eventually to be the fourth and last Mrs Hemingway]. She had returned from a dinner with the Air Force Commander Lieutenant General 'Tooey' Spaatz, during which aides had rushed in and out bearing urgent messages. The Ritz lobby was in chaos, with officers running backwards and forwards. Although still not recovered from the bronchitis he had picked up in the Hurtgenwald, Hemingway was determined to rejoin the 4th Infantry Division. He started to pack and assemble his illegal armoury. 'There's been a complete breakthrough,' he told his brother Leicester, who was passing through Paris. 'This thing could cost us the works. Their armor is pouring in. They're taking no prisoners...Load those clips. Wipe every cartridge clean.'"

JE comments:  I'm enormously looking forward to Beevor's new book.  "Old Ernie Hemorrhoid" by my calculation was 45 at the time of the battle, which is starting to sound positively young.  Dueling canteens of schnapps and cognac will age you prematurely, although this is an appropriate cocktail for a battle over control of the Franco-German borderlands.


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