On April 18th, 1945, war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on Iejima* during the Battle of Okinawa. At the time of his death, Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was well-known for his intimate and personal storytelling that highlighted the experiences of the “average” soldier. Pyle was able to tell the stories of enlisted men because he embedded himself in their day-to-day lives; he didn’t just observe their work, he lived, traveled, ate, and shared foxholes with them.
In remembrance of Ernie Pyle, the Unwritten Record presents photographs and motion pictures that highlight his work as a roving war correspondent during WWII.
Local ID: 127-GW-74-116277 / Caption: Marine Staff Sgt. Elwood P. Smith, right, and a Marine officer, converse with the late Ernie Pyle when his visited this base of Ulithi / Photographer: Dipallina / Date: March 24, 1945
Local ID: 127-N-116846 / Caption: PFC. Urban Vachon of Laconia, NH, and Columnist Ernie Pyle, rest by the roadside on the trail at Okinawa / Photographer: Barnett / Date: April 8, 1945
Local ID: 127-N-107089 / Caption: Ernie Pyle, the celebrated journalist, recently visited Leathernecks of the 3rd Marine Division, where along with talking to the veterans of the fight on Bougainville and Guam, he observed the famous Marine Corps war dogs for the first time. Shown here talking to “Jeep”, a scout and security patrol Doberman Pinscher, Ernie was impressed with the high standards set by the dogs and their outstanding battle records to date in the Pacific. Jeep is 18 months old and has been overseas only a short time / Photographer: TSgt. J. Mundell / Date: January 24, 1945
Local ID: 127-N-108916 / Caption: Mr. Pyle is shown here talking to Division Commander, Major General Graves B. Erskine. It is Ernie’s first trip into the Pacific. Previously he wrote about GI Joe from the European Theater of Operations. From left to right: Major General Erskine, Lt. Comdr. Max Miller, Col. Robert E. Hogaboom, Ernie Pyle, PFC. James R. Jerele, Pvt. Louie E. White, and Jeep (dog) / Photographer: Tsgt. Mundell / Date: January 22, 1945
Local ID: 127-N-116840 / Caption: Columnist Ernie Pyle rests on the roadside with a Marine patrol / Photographer: Barnett / Date: April 8, 1945
Local ID: 127-N-116953 / Caption: Columnist Ernie Pyle and some members of the 1st Marine Division rest by the roadside on Okinawa / Photographer: Barnett / Date: April 8, 1945
Local ID: 127-GW-539-116841 / Caption: Ernie Pyle, noted columnist, on the trail with a group of Marines. He is fourth from the left. Okinawa / Photographer: Barnett / Date: April 8, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-262929 / Caption: Ernie Pyle being transferred by breeches buoy from the USS Cabot (CVL-28) to the USS Moale (DD-693) / Date: February 23, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-303399 / Caption: Ernie Pyle, war correspondent, interviewing Joe J. Ray S1/c and Charles W. Page S1/C on board the USS Yorktown (CV-10) / Date: February 5, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-314396 / Caption: Ernie Pyle visiting with Marines aboard USS Charles Carroll (APA-28) while enroute to Okinawa / Date: March 20, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-314401 / Caption: Ernie Pyle watching Marine play Casino aboard USS Charles Carroll (APA-28) while enroute to Okinawa / Date: March 29, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-314410 / Caption: Ernie Pyle and sailors listening to war reports over loud speaker aboard USS Charles Carroll (APA-28) while enroute to Okinawa / Date: March 29, 1945
Local ID: 80-G-314416 / Caption: Ernie Pyle with troops listing to PFC Johnny Maturello play accordion aboard USS Charles Carroll (APA-28) while enroute to Okinawa / Date: March 1945
Local ID: 80-G-314806 / Caption: L to R; Edward P. Krapse, Lt. Arlington Bensel Jr., Ernie Pyle, and Cpl. Edward M. Wrenne
Local ID: 80-G-314812 / Caption: Ernie Pyle center leaning on a Marine’s shoulder.
Local ID: 111-SC-439556 / Caption: Bomb that hit PRO today also hurt some of the war correspondents, among whom was Ernie Pyle. He suffered a slight cut on the face and is here looking at his bed from which he had just left to watch the bombing, when the roof fell on it. Nettuno Area, Italy / Photographer: Blau / Date: March 16, 1944
Local ID: 111-SC-439555 / Caption: Cpl. Jesse Cooper (of Powell Station, TN), Ernie Pyle, and Pvt. Willian Bennet (of Dunn, NC) at muzzle of a 155mm rifle. Fifth Army. Anzio Beachhead area, Italy / Photographer: Bonnard / Date: March 18, 1944
Local ID: 111-SC-210915 / Caption: At Nettuno, Italy, Ernie Pyle, war correspondent, and Major General Lucian Truscott, stand in front of Corps Headquarters / Photographer: Blau / Date: March 26, 1944
Local ID: 111-SC-207093 / Caption: Ernie Pyle, preparing to cover the Pacific war front, gets a preview from enlisted men who have returned from the front. From left to right – T/4 Al Levy (of Albany, NY), T/5 William Gharrity (of Chippewa Falls, WI), and Ssgt. Richard W. Bridenbaugh (of Toledo, OH) / Date: January 1945
Local ID: 111-SC-191703 / Caption: Photograph of Ernie Pyle, famous war correspondent, eating “C” rations. Fifth Army, Anzio Beachhead area, Italy / Date: March 18, 1944
Local ID: 111-SC-165303 / Caption: Correspondent, Ernie Pyle, of Scripps-Howard Newspapers, Washington DC, interviewing Sgt. Ralph Gower (of Sacramento, CA), Pvt. Raymond Astrackon (left, of New York City), and 2nd. Lt. Annette Heaton, ANC (of Detroit, MI), attached to an evacuation hospital. North Africa / Date: December 2, 1942
Local ID: 111-SC-334352 / Caption: The body of Ernie Pyle, who lost his life while serving with first line troops on Ie Shima, was laid to final rest on July 19th in the new Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Oahu. Pall bearers are pictured removing Ernie Pyle’s flag draped casket before the burial ceremonies / Date: July 19, 1949
Jack Lieb Collection
Jack Lieb was a newsreel cameraman who covered the end of the war in Europe (D-Day to Germany). Pyle appears in the following videos, which document preparations for the D-Day invasion in England and France.
Pyle appears in the following Universal newsreel, which was released just 9 days before his death.
The records presented above were found in the following series:
*Iejima is often referred to as Ie Shima. Additionally, at the time of Pyle’s death, some news outlets referred to Iejima as Ie Island.
Special thanks to Audrey Amidon, who provided links and context to the films included in this blog post.
All of the photographs in this blog post are unrestricted and may be used freely.