Friday, June 11, 2004

Up Front

Too quickly, the events of D-Day were overshadowed last Sunday. So here is another vignette. Those of you old enough to remember, have heard the name Bill Mauldin - generally agreed upon to be the greatest cartoonist of WWII. Mauldin, an enlisted troop himself, was under fire constantly, lived in trenches, and stormed ashore along with thousands of others during some key battles that now live in history.

Few know that he was just 23 years old when, as a fighting man, and part time cartoonist - and now syndicated throughout the free world through the Stars and Stripes - he stormed ashore at Anzio, Italy in early 1944.

Anzio took a large toll and lasted nearly three months with the Allies prevailing finally, just 10 days before the D-Day landings would take place over in Normandy, France. Mauldin's unit swept into France some weeks after D-Day from the other direction. Mauldin wrote from the enlisted man's perspective of the misery, the danger, and the hell that is war. But his humor showed through all and endeared him to his readers - not just his cartoons, but what he wrote as well.

An example from Mauldin's book Up Front, that he documented from Anzio: "The soldiers killed a lot of cows (for food). One rifleman insisted that a cow had attacked him and that he had fired in self-defense."

A few months ago I went on line looking for a copy of Up Front and felt lucky to find a used one for less than $10, amazingly from Amazon. Not only that, but imagine my surprise and joy when it arrived - it was a copy from the first printing of the book in 1945, with just a slightly worn dust cover. Inside, the original price was printed - $3.00. The price didn't matter. I just started reading...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link