THE hurry-scurry and tiffs among the Generals to get into Rome and be photographed was an opera buffa. Several were nearly killed, whether by enemy or friendly fire. A small special force under General Frederick, who should not have been there, was clearing a bridge of mines. Approached from the other side by a small force under General Kendall of the 88th Division -- he shouldn't have been there either -- the two forces shot at each other and men were killed and wounded, including Frederick, before the amicide was stopped. Not until the afternoon of June 5 did all hostile obstruction and sniping quit. By then, the City was infiltrated by a score of processions, one from every lane of entry, flowing out then into every street. Wave upon wave of trucks and guns washed through. Fifty thousand soldiers marched at route step, dragging their feet, pausing, gawking, camping, eating, drinking, dispersing. There was no looting. Onto the streets poured many thousands of young Italians who had been hiding from the Neo-Fascist and German conscription gangs.
These were glorious hours, the greatest triumph of Allied arms in the West, the moments when the ordinary soldier could grasp what he might be fighting for, beautiful cities wrested from a cruel foe, innocent girls in clean dresses, imposing boulevards and grand cafes, churches so grand, with Christs and Marys so sublime, that the hill- billy Baptist might begin to doubt that God was a bedouin. Rome was taken in a glorious spirit. Because everything was in such good order, the soldiers behaved themselves. Because so little had been destroyed, they destroyed nothing. Because the people needed less food, they received more. The soldiers were so happy to find so wonderful a city that they believed the people must be admirable, even virtuous; hence they deserved better than those other people they had seeing on the way up the Boot of Italy whose ruins, rags, hunger, shivering, opportunism, and depression proved their unworthiness.
For days celebration continued. Once more the population went on promenade. Genuine partisans and freebooters tramped the streets in search of Fascists. There was sorrow and rage to support them: in the last weeks there had been roundups of Jews and murders of anti- Fascists. Lt. de Grazia's jeep is blocked by a cluster of people, who have in hand a man they shout is a dirty Fascist. They would like him to be killed on the spot. The Lieutenant glances the man up and down. Could be. He cannot stop to handle him. "Hey, soldier," to a loitering G.I. "Go with these people to the nearest M.P. post or police station and turn him in." The soldier says, "Yes, Sir," but who knows: he is probably A.W.O.L. from his unit.
A large number of Allied soldiers are gadding about the City. The Lieutenant reckons that the Fifth Army has lost at least temporarily a division of troops just by passing through Rome. Rome has been promptly declared off-limits to the troops but there could be no stemming of this initial tide of the awe-stricken and hilarious. Repeatedly he is accosted by a soldier with "Sir, can you tell me where my outfit is?" "What is your outfit." "The First Armored." "They're all gone North, I think, I don't know, try the M.P.'s." Not likely. His conscience appeased for another day, the soldier wanders off.
Meanwhile the battle has moved North. Thanks to the vainglorious Clark and all those taking cues from him, including the French, the two German armies that should have been isolated and destroyed, fled up the Tiber Valley until they found the undestroyed crossing and joined forces. The line will not settle down until the Germans cease their retreat short of Florence and build a defense across the peninsula.
Bianca Moffa puts him up in a kind of sun-room. From there he goes out upon the street, helps the others find a billet by the newspaper plant of Il Messagero, and discovers the staff of Stars and Stripes already inside readying their first Rome edition. There is little for him to do; he loiters outside thinking where next to stick his nose; a blonde girl, she is of course beautiful, stands nearby looking calmly at the comings and goings. Buon giorno and all of that -- her name is Clara Unghy, she lives next door, "Grazie, non fumo," but, yes, she would like to have lunch with him tomorrow, meeting him here, she knows where they might eat well, she is calm and unpretentious, not a flicker of flirtation, plainly dressed. By the next day he has a hotel room, the lunch is excellent, the siesta is put to good purpose: they are lovers; he counts her in on things, he knows where he can find her.
Bianca introduces him all around, to Giovanni Makaus, for instance, with whom he becomes friends. He is an Italian naval commander, now wearing civilian clothes, who was in hiding in Rome and worked for Italian Intelligence. Bianca would like Alfred to be her lover, but there was already Paolo -- would it be proper -- and Clara. He moves out of Bianca's nook but not from her circle. Nearly every evening there is some party with her friends.
PWB Naples has come up in force -- day by day trucks arrive. John Reynor is in charge of operations; Lt. Col. Culligan is military head. Alfred finds it no problem to be under two bosses, especially since neither gives him any orders and he stays in "D Section," for the time being. He laments the loss of his jeep, turned into the motor pool by general order. He goes onto the street and seizes a halted car, signs for the owner a slip of paper telling him that he can apply for compensation at some future date. It's one way of getting transport, also a form of looting. He has his eyes set upon a whole garage of cars, in fact, and envisions his comrades driving about town in style, but when he shows up to make the final arrangement for requisitioning them, a blustering Air Corps Lieutenant has preceded him and waves convincing hunting licenses in his face, so he slinks off humiliated.
He lends his seized car to Gianni Makaus who drives it to Ostia near where he had concealed his uniform and valuables when the Germans took over and he had gone underground; his watch and most of the other stuff is retrieved. He also brings back with him a batch of fresh sole, the most delicious fish that Alfred, quite deprived of seafood, can ever have tasted. But the car he seized is stolen by persons unknown, probably by its owner. He wonders whether the man will ultimately be compensated for the car on the basis of his piece of paper, while having the car as well. Now the Lieutenant must use cabs or the motor pool of the newly established HQ of PWB, a handsome modern office building next to the hotel where the personnel live and eat.
Soon, however, he rents an apartment with a garden, not far away. Rome is still a manageable city. One can walk from one end to the other in the course of the morning. As soon as he moves in, he throws a party for the old gang, combined a little differently into a new gang: Brown Roberts (he never did leave the theater), Rowina Vining, the clever Irish girl who carries on now as a kind of office manager for "D Section," Fred Annunziata, an OWI radio engineer, Jack Collins from Manhattan and Seattle who had worked for the Associated Press, Gianni Makaus, Lt. Gasperini of the Italian artillery that is now attached to the Eighth Army, et al., not to mention the aforesaid beautiful Hungarian, and more and more people, visitors from the Army Teams, and the Bianca set. It is really too much for him; he is not a socialite. At one gathering, somebody -- it might have been himself -- tipsily tips a gas lamp and sets fire to the place. They put it out in short order, but the apartment will never be the same, thankfully.
Clara escorts him to a great Mass at St. Peter's Cathedral. Trucks from a hundred Army units push into the square. Never has such a sea of khaki swept over the flagstones and in through the grand doors. The Pope presides. The crowd stands reverently still for the Alta Maggiore, one hour at least, a platoon of officiating priests, music, hymns, bells swirling their sounds through the air swallowing all human breath, so loud as to be tasted. Clara knows the Mass, the ritual, when to kneel, when to cross oneself, when to repeat the Latin and Greek. He merely copies some of what she does. It may have been the first full Mass of his life. She looks so serene and lovely in profile; it makes him fond of her; he hopes she was not praying for him to fall in love with her, to have his love for life.
When asked, she says she is a ballerina. She could be: her legs are sturdy; she walks well; she does not flinch at people, peek, engage in useless gestures. Anyhow, what else can a girl of twenty-three years in Rome in 1944 say that she is: it is either that or a student. Perhaps she could say she worked in the movies, which at the moment were shut down. She lives with her mother in a small flat next in Messagero Piazza. Her father is a Hungarian army officer last seen heading for the Russian Front and extinction. Clara has a beauty that only Hungarians, or so it seems at times, can possess, a blondness without pink, suffused overall, brown eyes, a skin white and firm. She is quiet, even-tempered, honest, un-demanding, just the kind of person you would want to have around if life were hectic, you were cagey about flamboyant Italian women, you had important privileges to dispense, and you hoped to move on one of these days to points north, like Berlin for instance.
She is not of the swinging set, too poor, too unconnected (Moffa directs films, Gasperini's mother is a countess -- and gives a nice tea party to them all --, Bianca's father is the petroleum distributer for Standard Oil in Naples, there is the daughter of Eli Culbertson, the great bridge expert who wrote, Alfred knows, a good book on world government, and so on), but she carries herself perfectly and is well- liked by women who in a way envy her and might have disparaged her, and by men who might have chosen not to respect her.
As usual, he does damned little for her, and she probably needs a lot, except to introduce her as the occasion demands, have her for meals whenever possible, take her to view a church -- or does she take him? -- walk about with her in the evenings, and provide a sexual partner who may or may not have been premier in her experience but probably was -- at least she acts as if that were the case. Somehow all the propaganda, circulating in both male and female circles, that a man must continually show his affections by gifts in order to please a woman, has not captured him. Perhaps the propaganda is false. The subject is fascinating. Perhaps what counts is that he does not indulge himself materially, on gifts to others, on clothing, cars, and what-not. Not being greedy, he does not attract greed.
He would be quite drowned in the almost purely Italian milieu if it were not for occasional visitors haunting him with yesteryear. George Peck comes to town and is his guest. Last seen at Pacific Palisades in California, with his wife Christine Palmer, at the home of Giuseppe and Elizabeth Mann Borgese. (Alfred happens to be finishing Giuseppe's latest book on the war and the peace to follow, Common Cause; he has just received a letter from him as well.)
George is apparently sane but quite mad. His wife Christine is as good a proof as you'd want of his inner psyche; she was a dramatic actress and had been a wheel of the University of Chicago's sophisticated student carriage set. She took George just where he wanted to go, light years away from Peck and Peck, Clothiers. They had a child, a little girl, whose treatment defined the abused child syndrome so far as their friends were concerned.
Now George recounts to Al a horrendous story about a mutual friend from the University of Chicago, Dieter Dux, who, largely because his father was a German in high office, and because his mother, an American, had some peculiar notions and a high social standing, was suspected by the pro-Allied group at the University of being pro-German; George says that Dieter escaped army duty, fled to Mexico and was last seen in Berlin. Alfred registers the story, cannot help but recount it to Jill in a letter about George's visit, denounces angrily Dieter, who was his friend, but fortunately hears contradictory news of Dieter soon and writes home quickly, this time denouncing George. So the slander does not reach far.
"D Section" sends Alfred over to handle the Press at the inauguration of the new Italian Government on June 9. Badoglio has resigned and Ivanoe Bonomi, who had been once Premier before Mussolini seized power, becomes once again Prime Minister. He is a nonentity. The strongest member of the new Cabinet is Alcide De Gasperi. There is a hullabaloo at the ceremony, photographers, Ministers, reporters. De Gasperi speaks out in exasperation: "What is going on? This is too much! Begin the meeting!" The American Lieutenant is trying to get the cameramen in and out. "Patienza!" he exclaims to De Gasperi and everyone else within earshot. "Patience!" is a cliche' dear to Italian speech, used for all occasions. Coming from the lips of a young American officer, it makes De Gasperi laugh. It eases the tension. The scene quiets. The First Democratic Government of Italy at Rome since the Fascist Revolution begins.
John Reynor, now heading up the "propaganda ministry" of the Allies, has acquired Stephen Pallos, an Anglo-Hungarian film director, who is to be in charge of the Italian film industry. Pallos and the Lieutenant get along well; the job needs a military man; so John asks Alfred whether he would like a transfer over to films. It sounds good, and he sets up shop with Steve: "I worked with Villie Viler." Looks like a crook. Doesn't appear to be doing anything. Still, he's cheerful, voluble. There's never a dull moment with Hungarians.
Alfred becomes an attractive nuisance. At once beset by Italian film producers and directors for licenses to produce films. Nobody has a notion of relating to the Greatest War in the History of the World. They trot him around to enjoy excellent meals. They send to him starlets to offer themselves as assistants, secretaries or whatever, despatched to help the war effort by Direttore Greco or some other such ex-Cinecitta nabob or would be such. He asks one of them, sitting demurely before him, "You were sent by Signor Greco to be my friend and help him get a license for a film, nevvero?" She smiles winningly and says, "Si, e' vero. Pero.."
Bianca and Paolo Moffa laugh at his stories. Paolo is a little to the side of the mad scramble, never asks for anything, has done documentaries for the Vatican. Alfred does not succumb to Bianca's lures; nor is she bashful to employ them; she has the black slanting Neapolitan eyes that must come from the neolithic Mediterraneans. Or maybe a recent Circassian, as simple as that. He writes Jill on her behalf, Dear Jill, I have this friend, see, who would love and embellish a good pair of American shoes and here is her footprint, and Jill should know that he would never send her a request for a gift for a lover of him; still, somehow, the package of shoes for Bianca never arrives.
Better than many another happening, Elsa Morante eventually appears at his office, courtesy of "D" Section, and, with her, Alberto, grim as before, and Alfred asks her, "Will you work with me on films?" to which she responds, "On what films?" "Oh, I don't know... A film on partisans!" And Elsa consented. They enjoyed several pleasant gatherings in those halcyon days of the Liberation of Rome.
On Bastille Day, more from coincidence than out of regard for the French Revolution, he traipses to a large party with Alberto and Elsa at the home of the Painter Severini's daughter. Capogrosso is there, with other pezzi grossi. The Moravias have taken up their former lives in Roma but with the new strong connection with the outside world through "D Section." They are, as the Lieutenant had expected when he sent them South, doing some work for the Allies. Alberto is, of course, typically ungrateful: he must have been spoiled by over- indulgence and inner rage accompanying his childhood infantile paralysis.
A Director of well-known films arrives and Steve and Alfred talk with him. He wants desperately to begin work on a film. Look, he says to them, if you think that I am a Fascist, why would I risk my life in crossing the lines to put myself in your hands. I never said, the Lieutenant tells him, that opportunists lack courage. He is angry. But what can he do? It is not a matter of killing. Some things are.
Professor Hartshorne arrives. He is in OSS, though he doesn't say so, and gets attached to PWB headquarters. The Lieutenant is naturally drawn to professors. An informant tells him, Hartshorne is dealing with some of the worst Fascists. Confirmation extends from another source. Watch out, he tells Hartshorne, I have bad news on this guy. Hartshorne resents the information. Sometime later (I could wait for six months of the story to tell you this, but I want to show right now his perspicacity) he hears that Hartshorne dies, mysteriously murdered, say most. Al is in no position to follow up the report. He is far away.
What we need, he says to Steve Pallos, as shifty-eyed, physically unimpressive, over-verbal, and unconvincing chap as ever you might encounter on the side streets of Istanbul -- but all ears, so you can see his intelligence -- is a film to help the war effort, on the activities of the partisans in Italy. Great, says Steve, and off they go signing up people for the film on partisans.
Not content with a lovely fictional set-up amidst the rapidly coagulating bloody Hollywood atmosphere, it occurs to the American officer that they must have fresh live footage on partisan activities on the other side of the Front. "D Section," to which he regularly refers, though no longer a member, collects a continuous stream of reports of resistance activities in the North, of trains derailed, power plants destroyed, wires cut, enemy soldiers killed, industrial sabotage, and so on; indeed they are the best informed people in Italy about Italian affairs in German-occupied Italy. On June 19, General Kesselring, Commander of German forces in Italy, has issued to his officers a license to murder:
The partisan situation in the Italian theater...constitutes a serious danger to the fighting troops and their supply lines as well as to the war industry and economic potential. The fight against the partisans must be carried on with all the means at our disposal and with the utmost severity.
I will protect any commander who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of severity of the methods he adopts against partisans...
In consequence and for example, when partisans kill two German soldiers at the quaintly beautiful village of Civitella, SS troops appear by surprise on June 29 and massacre all male inhabitants and burn the village to the ground. (A surviving infant will become many years later son-in-law of the American Lieutenant.)
Alfred talks privately to Gianni about the film about partisans. Might you undertake to go with a camera across the lines and take some pictures of partisan action, and bring them back? One explosion, even if you have to blow up an appropriate target yourself, would make a film persuasive. Gianni unhesitatingly agrees. He himself might be able to commit the authentic act that would be the subject of the filming.
Alfred has discovered a partner for him, a partisan, a red-faced Milanese engineer, Pietro Boni, who has just crossed the lines. It is typical, the man who has just done the heroic deed is the one who is turned around to do it again. Still, Gianni has his companion vetted by Italian Intelligence. He is probably a Communist. No problem. Togliatti has told the Communists to collaborate, not to destroy the existing coalition government.
The American arranges a couple of days of training in the use of the camera equipment that he has bought for them on the open market. He goes to John Reynor for clearance and funds. How much do you need? About $2500.00 in old lira. O.K. He trusts the Lieutenant. One wonders whether he knows the odds. Fine. "I also need a car to take them up to the Front Line." O.K. He gets a car alright. It's a new English jeep, right-hand drive. He is afraid to look its lamps in the eye, its axles might buckle. Its metal had been stretched to the thinness of pie crust before fashioning it into a vehicle. A two-wheel drive. Its tires were as delicate as a dancer's pumps.
The Northern Front is fluid. Fermo and Perdaso fall to the Eighth Army on 20 June. Foligno is liberated on 16 July. Ancona with its seaport and communications is taken by the Poles in a three-day battle between 17 and 19 July. Somewhere in between Ancona and Lake Trasimeno is the Central Front, over which he intends to pass the two men and wish them well. John 's last words are "Alfred, you will not, I trust, be gone for long. Not over the lines, mind you."
Morning becomes evening and they are following first one and then another of the poor roads that parallel the Front, going beyond Lago Trasimeno, heading East. The last outpost of which they inquire say they do not know, and cannot locate on the map where the enemy might be. That is not unexpected. No two Fronts are ever the same. Soldiers may lay in swarms at one point, as thick as bedbugs, while the enemies may be separated beyond mortar fire distance at some other point, -- like here. They are on the main ridge of the Apennines, the forest is thick, the underbrush heavy. It is a hell of a place to let off two men on foot with equipment, men not trained as forest rangers either. Men who would be shot if taken, or equally well shot by friendly soldiers.
They camp for the night on a hillside, a wood and brook below. The slope resembles more the Sierra Nevadas of California than fabled rustic Italy. There is the usual little stone cabin, without windows, with a crooked door. He looks in. We can stay here, he said, but I don't want to sleep inside. We will, they said, it's better than out in the cold. He thinks, well, let them sleep inside, I can be of help out here if any strangers happen by, and I don't like filth, and probably bugs. He is nonetheless in poor shape. The grippe that had seized him that morning had progressed into a feverish influenza. At least he would be able to breathe and thrash about outdoors.
The night passes. His flu has worsened. His comrades emerge, Gianni eaten up by insects. On their way once more. He explains now the problems as he sees them of getting past the lines here. Too, that he has found out the OSS has no agents in the area who might help. They should continue driving until they reach the coast where he has heard that OSS has a band working into both Italy and Yugoslavia.
The roads are bad. He hits a pothole and the car makes an appalling noise, then begins to thump every now and then as if to say, from here on we are going at my speed not yours.
They descend to the sea below Ancona, which is falling to the Poles. There they locate the OSS agents. They have boats operating, one that same night. They will take Gianni and Pietro by sea to enemy-held territory, and put them ashore where they would hopefully find their way through enemy territory and ultimately join up with a band of partisans. Good-bye. Good luck. Ciao. Buon fortuna.
Slowly, painfully, sick and dog-tired, he proceeds to Rome. The car is in a poor state, worse than himself. How he hates it! And he can find no motor pool to fix it. Junk it, he is told! He still gets it across the mountains into Rome. All in all, some 600 miles, with 8 hours sleep in all. Ergo he sleeps. He arises. He decides to put in a show at his office.
Reynor wants to see him, when, and if, he returns. "How did it go?" "O.K., I suppose. We'll see." Alfred, there is an important business coming up, and it may be the sort of thing you like.
Every bell rings in the American! He knows what is coming. They are asking us for somebody like you, says John. It is up to you. If you want to go, you can go.
He will go, no doubt. Goodbye, John, let me know. Goodbye, Steve, smiles. Goodbye, "D Section," heartfelt fare-thee-wells and see-you-agains. He doesn't fully appreciate how final is this parting from dear friends. Elsa is still in his office when he leaves, holding the line for integrity, he is inclined to say, though she may be too shy. He has seen already so much mal-administration in his brief career that he wishes to regain the life of chaos where no apology is needed. It is easier and more outgoing, and therefore more fun.
Good-by Clara, gentle smiles, gentle hugs, take her home in his car, leave with her whatever little is of use from his month-old residence, see her last beneath the large sign of Il Messagero. He owns somebody's fine shot-gun, in a barracks bag full of the kind of possessions one has gathered over time with some discrimination, and he leaves this all with the supply officer, whence it will be forever gone.
On July 27 he writes Jill to hint that a new invasion will soon be underway and that he will be leaving these parts. At the moment he is encamped South of Naples. He has lots of time to deliver himself of pronunciamentos on higher education, among other things. Hutchins, he says (and I would agree with him), wants to teach people to think first and foremost and that's the basis of education. But see what has happened. A foremost thinker of his close acquaintance, Mortimer Adler, has gone all-out for the good war and victory. Hutchins himself is restrained, skeptical, almost isolationist, the mark of Goethe heavy upon his forehead. And Milton Mayer, his disciple of the Great Books, has become a conscientious objector and pacifist.
He goes on to tell her that her former boss at Coronet-Esquire Magazine, Oscar Dystal, has shown up and partaken of his board. Also he has met Major Rathbun and gone to the Naples Opera with him. A youngster (probably of his own age, though you'd never know it) has arrived, classified 4-F (physically disqualified for military service), and asks all kinds of questions about what war is really like, and when pressed about why he doesn't join the Army, says, and he truly means the old cliche', "give me a gun, I'm ready to fight anytime," so they all laugh at this.
Hank Miller and Jay Toberty, Illinoisans, come, he sees them, he sees them all, there are times in Naples when he feels that he is in Chicago, on campus, at City Hall, or must be at the Neapolitan-Sicilian neighborhood of the West Side where the wine gurgles red out of a barrel and the air is hanging heavy on Dago Rope.
There will be no "D Section" in the campaign to come. It will remain in Italy. Almost no Brits are called for in the invasion of Provence. It will be American and French. However Captain Foster hitches on. He is Artillery, not Intelligence. The old group will always be part of Alfred. They have marked his attitudes toward war, a way of receiving its experience, not self-pitying, but strongly ironic, as something expectable and contemptible. He has shared their respect for wit and humor and the comfortable life; they were raised as bon vivants, educated to the tastes of a higher class in a society of social classes.
They have had little awareness of a movement called Social Science and regarded it as tolerable aberration of his, a habit of mind, an eccentricity with which they, such eccentrics, could sympathize. Their respect for him, which with Robertson and Greenlees expanded into an avuncular affection and indulgence, given their large age differences, was for qualities that were American but which were unexpected and indeed would not be highly regarded in the American Army, of intellectualism, of regard for the arts and a quick adaptation to the art of living. With them he became more human, broader, more tolerant, more skeptical, strangely more frank, less aggressive within a group of acquaintances. He came to regard war as less of a monopoly of the bomb and bayonet. Perhaps this was actually a better way to win wars; it was certainly a way of enduring them.
They have given him a new attitude toward Europe. The American, whatever his origins, tended to regard Europe all the way from Cork, Ireland, to Omsk, Russia, and from Trondheim to Sicily, reproachfully and contemptuously. Their folk had to leave Europe (and the same would apply for Africa) and they were unconsciously resentful at having been removed, rejected, and at the same time having left under their own will, but now they felt superior to the oppressors and fools that remained. He did not hear General George Patton's speech to the American troops on the eve of their landing in Sicily, where he reminded those of German and Italian descent, a large proportion of his force, how their forefathers has chosen a superior kind of life and possessed a superior virtue and spirit; Alfred de Grazia had not heard it because he was with the British Eighth Army; its reading came later. The speech received much criticism as representing prejudice and arrogance; Lieutenant De Grazia thought that it was well-suited to the occasion.
But this typically American attitude that he had possessed was heavily overwritten by the attitude of the small group of British with whom he had campaigned. They led him to an attitude toward Europe which was more affectionate, hardly superior, and enveloped happily in the process of cultural exchange on a fully personal as well as general political level.
When he arrives at his camp one night -- when he chose, that is, not to stay out at the Pozzuoli PWB Hotel -- he finds that he has been assigned a French roommate, who is enormously excited at thoughts of La Patrie. They drink toasts to his homecoming -- Alfred's homecoming, too, for didn't Jefferson say that every American had two countries, his own and France? -- the land of Lafayette, the Rive Gauche, too. He feels like his Dad, who would never go to bed until everyone in the family had gotten home and he could then lock the door. To usher everyone home free. It was the noblesse oblige of Alfred's Twentieth Century America.
The Lieutenant is optimistic. It must have been deeply imprinted upon the Chicago Babe from infancy. He should now know better. He writes -- we have the proof of this in black on white -- that all the moves of war , no matter how costly, are just sloppy chess, where the players exhaust all of their pieces and finally one player will end the game with a checkmate. Yet he arises from the table and his first thought is, let's get about winning this damned war! So it is time to take up one's pack and climb up the gangplank.
He bears an illicit extra bag with him, containing a cotton khaki uniform, a novel of Turgenev, extra cigarettes and soap and chocolates and whiskey. He thinks, I shall never see half of my possessions and half of my friends again. At least I shall have these creature comforts. If I can get it all ashore, all to the good, if not, the sailors or the sea will have it -- Kismet.