Indiana University
Journalism Ernie Pyle

From London to Paris: In the footsteps of Ernie Pyle (2009)

war museum
Photo by Mike Conway
The class in the Imperial War Museum, London.

The J460 Footsteps of Ernie Pyle class headed to England and France with associate professor Owen Johnson, the second time the class has traveled to places the famous World War II correspondent made famous in his columns. They followed Pyle’s path from London to Paris as he reported on the war in Europe. The group also visited the Omaha Beach and Normandy.

Trip diaries:

Back in time on a walking tour

By Anna Newell
March 21, 2009

With our week quickly coming to an end, we enjoyed our last beautiful day in Paris. A Saturday filled with sunshine could not be any more perfect for our morning free to do what we chose. Some visited the Louvre, shopped around town or merely soaked up the sights in Paris.

At 2 p.m. our group met in the hotel lobby and took the metro to the Notre Dame for our walking tour. A young tour guide from St. Louis, Mo., led us around the historic parts of Paris, taking us back in time to what was happening to the city during World War II. The sunny weather kept our spirits high as our tired legs hit the stone sidewalks and parks.

Around 5 p.m. our tour ended and we were free to enjoy our last night in Paris however we wished.

Meeting a legend in Paris

By Kevin Pozzi
March 20, 2009

John G. Morris in Paris
Photo by Mike Conway
Photojournalist John G. Morris, 90, talks to students during their visit to Paris. In his long career, Morris worked with many famous journalists and met Ernie Pyle.

Our first full day in Paris began with a breakfast of chocolate croissants, slices of ham, Swiss cheese and a machine to squeeze oranges into fresh juice.

Following that indulgence, our group boarded the Metro for downtown Paris. After emerging from the mess of tunnels, we found ourselves in one of the older sections of the city. We paused briefly for reflection and photography at the oldest square in Paris, the Places des Vosges, but the children and couples lounging around the park benches added a youthful touch to the historic place.

Our journey continued down a few small alleys to the home of our guest speaker, John G. Morris. At 90 years old, Morris energetically detailed his life experiences in the journalism world–as well as his first-hand interpretations of various 20th century wars.

Morris, who met Ernie Pyle during WWII when he was his tent mate one evening, said, "Ernie was especially nice to me…he was the only correspondent to say goodbye."

After a brief lunch, our day continued with a long bus tour of the city. We viewed all of the highlights: Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the River Seine and the Eiffel Tower.

The day ended with our class breaking off into smaller groups of similar interests. Some headed for the Louvre, some to the Eiffel Tower, and others content with seeking out more French cheese and chocolate. We hope to make the best of our last day in Europe.

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Destination: Mont-Saint-Michel and Paris

By Kalyn Hippleheuser
March 19, 2009

mont saint michel
Photo by Anne Kibbler
The group toured Mont-Saint-Michel, learning of its1,300-year history.

We packed our bags, indulged in a breakfast of French croissants, and said bonjour to Caen. Mont-Saint-Michel, a sanctuary situated atop a mountain, marked our first destination. Two hours from Caen, we arrived at Mont-Saint-Michel in late morning. We explored the cobblestone roads and gift shops before meeting with our guide.

The tour began near a pair of historic British cannons and wound through the only street of Mont-Saint-Michel. We climbed several flights of stairs to the famous church dedicated to Saint Michel. The group ate lunch and posed for a picture before heading to Paris. Arriving there, we dispersed to explore the City of Lights.

A full day of World War II — and Ernie Pyle

By Audree Notoras
March 18, 2009

at normandy
Photo by Mike Conway
The students had a personal tour guide for their visit to the American Cemetery at Normandy.

Today was by far our most hectic day. We met in the hotel cafe at 7:45 a.m. for breakfast and left for the beaches of Normandy by 8:45 a.m. Our tour guide, Helen, met us at our hotel and stayed with us until our day ended at 7 p.m. She was excellent and never lacked for facts.

We took a two hour bus ride to Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial, where we saw bunkers and dormitories the Germans used by the beach. We stopped at Omaha Beach for 20 minutes and walked along the shore. Then we went to the American Cemetery, the resting place for thousands of American soldiers who fought in WWII, including the two Roosevelt Brothers.

We stopped for lunch, which the journalism school treated us to, around 1:30 p.m. in Arromanches. Winston Churchill built a temporary port here for the Allies to transport tanks and supplies to soldiers already in France. Remnants of this port can still be seen a couple of kilometers off the coast. After lunch, we had a museum tour about the port.

omaha beach
Photo by Mike Conway
Jaclyn Baker reads a plaque marking events at Omaha Beach.

We arrived in Bayeux, where we saw the Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux Tapestry), which was constructed in 1472. Then we took a quick walk through the city and toured the Notre Dame de Bayeux. It is a gorgeous cathedral in the center of town.

To end our day, we saw the Journalists Memorial and the British Cemetery. The first is a unique memorial that recognizes journalists who died while doing their job. It has names from 1944 to present, and of course we all took pictures of Ernie Pyle's name.

After returning to the hotel a little after 7 p.m., we broke into groups to find dinner. No doubt that everyone will fall asleep easily tonight after a full and exhilarating day like today.

Goodbye, Britain. Hello France!

By Megan Clayton
March 17, 2009

Today we got our earliest wake-up call yet. We gathered our luggage, said goodbye to the St. Giles hotel and sped out of the city at 4:30 a.m. sharp. London is sprawling, and it took about half an hour driving south for the densely-packed buildings to give way to suburbs and then to empty hills.

We arrived in Portsmouth to board the ferry for France a little after dawn. Most of us were bleary eyed, but sleeping on the bus would have meant missing the last sights of Britain, so we stayed bleary eyed. After grabbing coffees with our last few pounds, we boarded the Mont St. Michel ferry to Caen. Ferry isn’t the right word, though, because what we were on was more like a multi-level shopping center. We sailed in style and comfort for over five hours.

The receiving port was a few kilometers north of Caen, so after disembarking we took a shorter bus ride to what would be our home for two nights, the Novotel Caen Cote de Nacre. It’s only a short trolley ride from the middle of city, and since most of us were wide awake after resting during the long channel crossing, we topped off our day by exchanging our dollars (and some stray pounds) for euros, leaving the chaperones behind and hitting the streets for dinner.

Churches and cathedrals
By LaTara Harris
March 16, 2009

Another day loaded with events ahead started at 9 a.m. We took the Tube to St. Bride’s Church, where we toured the sanctuary. It has several engravings and photos on display in honor of those who lost their lives in war. Downstairs in “the crypt,” we saw many relics of the church’s 1,500-year history.

After lunch, we met CBS News’ Sheila MacVicar, an international correspondent based in London. She talked about colleagues who had died in war while doing their jobs. Due to the economy and the continual changes in the world, MacVicar said she is unsure where she'll be in the next 10 years.

Next, we visited St. Paul's Cathedral. Inside are designs and memorials dedicated to those who fought in both world wars. We walked up 257 stairs to the Whispering Gallery, which is 99 feet above the floor of the cathedral, and then walked up at least 130 more stairs to go outside. There, we saw a beautiful view of the entire city of London.

Of course, we then had to travel back down about 400 stairs — and did I mention they were spiral stairs? I am still a little dazed.

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Exploring World War II
By Kim Clements
March 15, 2009

Photo by Mike Conway
Students are learning to navigate the Tube, London's subway.

After our morning wake-up call and breakfast, we headed to the Tube to go to the Imperial War Museum. Our tour guide led us through the World War II exhibit. The museum houses several tanks used in the war, including the Sherman. We sat through a bombing simulation and experienced the feelings and sounds that Londoners experienced during German bombing raids.

After a quick viewing of the Holocaust exhibit, we were off to lunch. The museum prepared sandwiches, fruit and veggies which we enjoyed on picnic tables in front of the museum under the unusual sunshine.

After leaving the Imperial War Museum, we headed off to Westminster to see the Churchill War Cabinet Rooms, the underground bunker where Churchill and several of his closest allies spent time planning and preparing for the bombings of London.

Afterward, we had time to go our separate ways. Some went to reminisce about the Beatles on Abbey Road and some went in search of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.

It's early to bed as we have an early morning start to St. Bride's Church and St. Paul's Cathedral on our last day in London tomorrow.

We've arrived!
By Jaclyn Baker
March 14, 2009

Photo by Mike Conway
The class in front of Kensington Palace.

Today was our first day in London. We landed in London's Gatwick airport at 7:30 a.m. (London time) after an approximately six hour flight. Most of us couldn't sleep very well on the plane due to excitement. The discomfort of airplanes seats didn't help either.

After landing, we went through customs, baggage claim and currency exchange. We met with our city tour guide, Janet, who escorted us to our bus. We were all ecstatic to be able to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh air. Janet and our driver, Paul, took us through southeast England on the way to London. However, fatigue set in quickly and many of us were asleep before we reached the city.

The bus tour showed us the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. The next stop was Kensington Palace, where many kings and queens throughout English history lived and the site of Princess Diana's funeral. Janet was an excellent tour guide and gave us details that only a native could.

After Kensington Palace, we stopped for lunch at Covent Gardens in front of St. Paul's Cathedral. The whole place was crowded and it was hard to move without brushing into another's shoulder. It was exciting, however, to see all the different shops, restaurants and street performers. We were only there for 45 minutes and many of us wished it could have been longer.

We checked into our hotel around 3 p.m., enjoying some downtime and before meeting to receive our Metro passes at 4:30 p.m. The rest of the night, we have free time to explore London and its inner workings. So far, it's been an amazing (and exhausting) experience!

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