Sicily Sketch Book 5

This fifth volume of Mauldin’s Sicily Sketch Book is different from the others, as rather than being signed by various soldiers, this book presents one soldier’s account of the war at the time. This contemporary reportage appears to have been done for the folks back home, as a way of letting them know what was going on. Using Mauldin’s cartoons and drawings as a springboard for that reportage once again shows how important Mauldin’s work was to the soldiers. These observations could have easily been done in a letter, but the visuals help set the stage for the soldier’s writing. Sadly, the soldier is not identified, but the book is dated October 16, 1943.

Back Cover

“The soldiers picked up every means of transportation imaginable, and you could see anything in the road.”

Inside Front Cover

“October 16, 1943.

This collection of cartoons has to do with our life in Sicily and are, as a rule, true to life.  Some would perhaps seem pointless to a person who hadn’t experienced or seen some of the depicted scenes or actions, so I will make notes of explanation.”

Page 4

“This change in prices was seen throughout the island as we advanced.  It was due to three factors.  First the Lira was worth more on the exchange than the exchange rate was pegged by AMGOT (Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories).  Second, the soldiers didn’t know prices as none were posted and would give more money to the seller than the article would ordinarily sell for, thus establishing a new price in the seller’s mind.  Third, the people maintained the belief that all Americans are rich.”

Pages 6 and 7

“Each plane that comes over seems to have the intent of bombing you personally, and any action in your part would seem to invite him.  But that doesn’t keep the men from firing at enemy planes because they have a natural hatred for them.”

“The Germans put booby traps (a bomb to explode when disturbed or when a wire is tripped) in all of their abandoned equipment.”

Pages 8 and 9

“This was while the Germans were evacuating Sicily as they used every available boat.”

“Every person from five years old to aged women smoked, and would beg us for cigarettes.  To find one who didn’t would be a noteable (sic) exception as above.”

Page 12

“Uniforms were the normal garb for everybody and each seemed to vie with the other for glitter.  Musso (Mussolini) even had very small boys and girls uniformed.  The Chief of police was always a strong party man and incompetent.”

Pages 14 and 15

“One of the most fitting.  The MP’s (sic) went through the towns after they were captured and marked everything off limits to troops, so there was no need going to town.”

Pages 16 and 17

“He has reference to a hand grenade, which has a pin through the handle which when pulled out releases the handle and allows the grenade to explode in three seconds.  This page will probably be blown up by the time you get the book.”

“There is nothing funny about this page as it was our hardest battle on the island.”

Pages 18 and 19

“They put hard candy in our rations and the men would throw them to the kids.  Whenever we went anywhere the kids would line the road and shout ‘caramella’.  If you stopped, the above gathering would result.  And you could give them anything and they would eat it.”

“Enuf said!”

Pages 20 and 21

“People were always being found who were cousins or aunts.  The Dago population of the U.S. is great enough to have a relative in every house.”

“No one likes an M.P. and anything that happens to him is funny.”

Pages 24 and 25

“Every horse trough became a bath tub and was a relief from a helmet bath.”

Inside Back Cover

“The Sicilians never were treated as enemy.  When any of the soldiers were captured or gave up they were released to return to their farms.  They treated us very well and received the same kind of treatment in return.  As a whole we found Sicily to be a great likeable place and should be worth a mint of money as a tourist attraction.”

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