April 3, 1944 — Movies on the Anzio beachhead

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April 3, 1944 — Movies on the Anzio beachhead

War correspondent, Ernie Pyle, wrote, “As tiny and shell-raked as our Anzio beachhead is, life in some respects is astonishingly normal. For example, the Fifth Army runs a daily movie here. It started less than a month after our troops first landed.”[1]

Pyle continued in a piece titled, “Movies on the Beachhead:”[1]

They put on two shows a day, and we’ve had such recent pictures as Abbot and Costello in “Hit The Ice,” Jean Arthur in “The More The Merrier,” and Rosalind Russell in “What a Woman.”

I go occasionally, just to kill time at night, since the place where I write has no electricity, and I haven’t got enough Abe Lincoln in me to do my work by candlelight.

A funny thing happened at the movie the other night. I was standing outside the building with a big bunch of soldiers waiting for the first show to end. As we stood there, a shell suddenly whipped in, scared us out of our wits, and exploded behind the building.

When the boys came out after the first show ended, they were laughing about the odd timing in the picture’s dialogue. The exploding shell made a big boom inside the theatre, and just as it went off there was a pause in the film’s dialogue, and the heroine slowly turned her head to the audience and said: “What was that?”

At the movie the other night, I ran onto one of the two soldiers who had so nicely volunteered to help lug my gear off the boat, the day we nit the beachhead. They were Corp. Mert L. Hunter of Tonkawa, Oklahoma and Pvt. Paul Norman of Des Moines, Iowa. Hunter is in the engineers, and Norman is in a signal company, and works in the message center.

The boys say they don’t mind it on the beachhead. On the boat, they and some other soldiers had a frisky little brown puppy they’d bought in Naples for two packs of cigarettes and some gumdrops. They couldn’t think what to name the dog, so I suggested they call him “Anzio.”

So Anzio it is, and he’s still here with them, having the time of his young life.

Also, our beachhead has a rest camp, (ha, ha) for infantry troops. The camp is under artillery fire, as is everything else on the beachhead. But still is serves its purpose by getting the men out of the foxholes, and as somebody said, “There’s a hell of a lot of difference getting shells spasmodically at long range, and in being right up under Jerry’s nose where he’s aiming at you personally.”


[1] Ernie Pyle. With Fifth Army Beachhead Forces in Italy. (By Wireless). The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. News Clipping.


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