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Their Blood Was Finally Up: Ernie Pyle and the 1st Infantry Division in North Africa

Virtual Date With History

Thursday, September 10th
7:00 PM Online via Zoom
Free Event but Registration Required


In February 1943, the German Wehrmacht, under the command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, pushed American forces from Faïd Pass west across the Tunisian desert fifty miles through Kasserine Pass. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been proven correct; the Americans weren’t ready for war. And they certainly weren’t ready for Operation Roundup, the plan proposed by American military planners in 1942 for a cross-channel invasion of France.

Ernie Pyle, one of the most beloved correspondents of the Second World War, was America’s eyewitness to what happened next. With supply lines running thin, Rommel withdrew his troops, affording General Dwight D. Eisenhower time to turn command of the frontline soldiers over to the irascible George S. Patton, Jr. By the middle of May, a quarter million German troops trapped between the 1st Infantry Division and the Mediterranean Sea were forced to surrender. The Americans’ blood was finally up.

For three months, Ernie embedded with various elements of the 1st Infantry Division as they pushed toward Bizerte. Unlike many other correspondents, who tended to hang around the generals and their headquarters staff, Ernie marched and dug slit trenches. He ate and chewed the fat. And he endured dozens of German artillery barrages and ducked sniper rounds. But most of all, he wrote poetically and powerfully about what he saw: the evolution of America’s fighting man from a naïve amateur to hardened veteran. His reporting from North Africa would eventually earn him a Pulitzer Prize.

Please join David Chrisinger for this enlightening discussion about the earliest days of America’s involvement in the Second World War, when final victory was anything but inevitable and the fate of the world literally hung in the balance.

MEET THE AUTHOR: David Chrisinger is the author of the forthcoming book about Ernie Pyle’s wartime experiences, titled The Unhappy Warrior: Ernie Pyle and the Story of the Second World War. He is also a contributing writer for the New York Times At War Column and The War Horse, where his reporting focuses on the intersection of conflict, trauma, and the stories we tell about ourselves. In addition, David directs the Writing Program at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and teaches memoir writing to military veterans and their families.

Want to stay up-to-date on David Chrisinger’s journey to retrace the footsteps of Ernie Pyle through the war? Visit his website to sign up for his mailing list to receive updated articles every two weeks.

This event is worth 1 PD credit for IL teachers. If you are an IL teacher and wish to obtain PD credit:

1. Register for the webinar above.

2. Click Here to join our teacher roster.

3. After the webinar, you will receive a google form link to a short application activity to meet your full 2 hours of credit.