Ernest Hemingway's ETO Chronology

Article excerpt

DURING THIS YEAR'S many fiftieth anniversary commemorations of the battles which ended the Second World War, those of us interested in Ernest Hemingway should recall that Hemingway himself was a part of the epochal events of those days. As a combat correspondent for Collier's magazine he flew with the Royal Air Force, crossed the English Channel with American troops on D-Day, and accompanied Allied forces off and on from Normandy to the Rhineland. He translated these experiences into six Collier's articles, four poems, one published and six unpublished short stories, fragments of an unpublished novel, and one published novel--Across the River and into the Trees. The aim of this chronology is to provide an accounting of Hemingway's movements from his departure for England in May 1944 until his return from the war in March 1945.

About the format and background of this chronology: significant, reliably documented information is posted in daily entries beneath monthly headings. General, or poorly documented information is either summarized or posted with the nearest reliable information. The twenty-four hour military clock is used throughout for brevity. The definitive biographical reference for Hemingway (hereafter abbreviated "EH") remains Carlos Baker's Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, to which my work owes a large debt. The interested reader is directed to Baker's book for his exhaustive listing of the source materials for the period in question. EH's time in the field is surprisingly well documented by military sources, as well as by his own letters, notes, and journal. In preparing this chronology I have employed most of the same primary sources used by Baker, including EH's July-September 1944 journal which was rediscovered among his papers at the Kennedy Library in late 1991, and some notes apparently unknown to Baker. The journal was called EH's "war diary" by Baker, and his precedent is followed here.

In the spring of 1944 EH was compelled by his wife, journalist Martha Gellhorn, to cover the the progress of the Second World War in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Martha arranged to have EH flown to England in exchange for his coverage of the RAF. He agreed to the deal, then promptly usurped her combat accreditation with Collier's magazine. They left Cuba together in March, but departed New York separately in May.

MAY 1944

13: Martha leaves for England as the sole passenger on a freighter loaded with dynamite.

17: EH departs New York aboard a Pan Am flying boat bound for Foynes, Ireland, with a connecting flight to London.

18: EH's flight lands on the River Shannon in Foynes early in the morning. He later flies to London and checks into the Dorchester Hotel, "the Dorch."

22: EH meets his next wife, Mary Welsh, who wears a notoriously flattering sweater as she lunches with Irwin Shaw at the White Tower restaurant in London.

24: EH attends a party thrown by photographer Robert Capa. Also present are EH's brother Leicester, then a private in a documentary film team ("The Hollywood Irregulars"), and Life correspondent William Walton.

25: When Capa's party breaks up around 0300, EH catches a ride back to the Dorch with Dr. and Mrs. Peter Gorer. Dr. Gorer crashes into a water tank, injuring all three. They are taken to St. George's Hospital where EH is treated for a severe concussion, deep scalp wound, and smashed knees. Martha later lands in Liverpool after almost two weeks at sea, and, after reaching London and checking into the Dorchester, pays EH an unsympathetic visit at the hospital.

29: EH is discharged from the London Clinic.

JUNE 1944

2: EH briefed about the impending Allied invasion of Normandy.

5: Invasion fleet launched late in the night with EH aboard the attack transport Dorothea M. Dix.

6(D-Day): EH, his knees still weak from the auto accident, is winched aboard a landing craft and transferred to the Empire Anvil at 0200. …