William Manchester

US Marine and author William Manchester died on Tuesday.

This from his Torygraph obituary:


Perhaps Manchester's greatest achievement was Goodbye, Darkness (1981), an account of the Pacific War, in which he had fought as a young Marine. No one has better caught the horror of combat. Manchester had been a gangling, sickly youth, who had always funked fights at school. Now he found himself embroiled in the brutal fighting at Okinawa, where he was twice wounded and once given up for dead.

In a particularly memorable passage Manchester described the first time he killed a man, a Japanese sharp-shooter whom he had trapped in a shack. "He was a robin-fat, moon-faced, roly-poly little man...squeezed into a uniform that was much too tight.

"Unlike me, he was wearing a tin hat, dressed to kill. But I was quite safe from him. His Arisaka rifle was strapped in a sniper's harness. ... My first shot had missed him, but the second caught him dead-on in the femoral artery. His left thigh blossomed, swiftly turning to mush.

"Mutely he looked down at it. He dipped a hand in it and listlessly smeared his cheek red. His shoulders gave a little spasmodic jerk, as though someone had whacked him on the back; then he emitted a tremendous, raspy fart, slumped down, and died. I kept firing, wasting government property...

"I began to tremble, and next to shake all over. I sobbed, in a voice still grainy with fear, 'Im sorry.' Then I threw up all over myself...At the same time I noticed another odour; I had urinated in my skivvies... I remember wondering dumbly: Is this what they mean by 'conspicuous gallantry?'"
Black humour and all, as the man says, 'no one has better caught the horror of combat'.

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