With the Old Breed


E.B. Sledge

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A beloved Company K Marine, Bill is killed one night when a Japanese soldier infiltrates the foxhole he shares with Sam. When Bill runs out of his foxhole to escape the Japanese infiltrator, a Marine—believing that Bill is the Japanese infiltrator—hits him violently with his rifle. Another Marine later kills Bill to put him out of his agony. In the morning, Sledge discovers that the man they mistook for a Japanese infiltrator was none other than their friend Bill. This story illustrates the way in which war can lead to tragic consequences by a mix of pure accident and incompetence—which Bill’s buddy Sam illustrates.

Bill Quotes in With the Old Breed

The With the Old Breed quotes below are all either spoken by Bill or refer to Bill. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death, Horror, and Trauma Theme Icon
Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

This standard procedure in combat on the front line was based on a fundamental creed of faith and trust. You could depend on your buddy; he could depend on you. It extended beyond your foxhole, too. We felt secure, knowing that one man in each hole was on watch through the night.

Sam had betrayed that basic trust and had committed an unforgivable breach of faith. He went to sleep on watch while on the line. As a result his buddy died and another man would bear the heavy burden of knowing that, accident though it was, he had pulled the trigger.

Related Characters: Eugene “Sledgehammer” Sledge (speaker), Bill, Sam
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
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With the Old Breed PDF

Bill Character Timeline in With the Old Breed

The timeline below shows where the character Bill appears in With the Old Breed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 5: Another Amphibious Assault
Death, Horror, and Trauma Theme Icon
Friendship and Camaraderie Theme Icon
...them in the back. At the same time, he does not understand why his companions, Bill and Sam, have not fired at the Japanese soldier yet. (full context)
Death, Horror, and Trauma Theme Icon
Friendship and Camaraderie Theme Icon
...that the figure on the ground is not Japanese. Rather, he discovers that it is Bill. Sledge feels sick to realize that the Marine was shot by one of their very... (full context)
Death, Horror, and Trauma Theme Icon
Patriotism and Morality Theme Icon
Friendship and Camaraderie Theme Icon
...this story is not the shooter but Sam, who was supposed to keep watch while Bill was sleeping. This buddy system is crucial to the functioning of the Marine Corps, and... (full context)