Phil Nordyke’s “Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) in World War II” is excellent. It is a must-read for any student of World War II.
Mr. Nordyke does a great job as he takes us with the 505th PIR from its beginnings and training in the United States, through its deployment to North Africa, and through its campaigns in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland, the Bulge, and Germany before returning home.
Record Four Combat Jumps
The book takes its title from the 505 PIR’s record four combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno/Naples, Ste Mere Eglise/Normandy, and Nijmegen/Holland. Stars representing participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on parachute wings during and after World War II. FYI – this practice did not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.
Sicily and The Secrets of Ultra
I found it a book that that demanded I read every word on every page. Be prepared for some very graphic descriptions of the training and combat. You’ll feel the heat of North Africa. I was disappointed as I read the Hermann Goring Fallschrim Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were on Sicily, that General Bradley knew it, and because of secrecy of Ultra they did not pass this information on to the attacking forces! “This was a cruel deception of our own forces, but necessary in order to protect the secrets of Ultra.”
Excellent Job of Using Primary Sources
Mr. Nordyke does an excellent job of using primary sources. At first, I was a little confused when I encountered an incident that was described from multiple people’s points of view, but quickly saw the value in seeing the way more than one person viewed/remembered an incident. It helped paint a more complete picture. Pages 300 – 301 and the actions of Private Camille E. Gagne’s response to the killing of First Lieutenant John Dodd is one example. The coverage giving to the 505th’s role in Nijmegen Holland is very detailed and had me feeling I was there.
The Battle of the Bulge
The 505th PIR’s involvement didn’t stop after its fourth jump into Nijmegen/Holland. They played a key role being deployed by truck into Belgium’s Ardennes Forest as the 82 Airborne Divisions helped stop Hitler’s in The Battle of the Bulge in freezing December 1944 and January 1945.
The book has exception maps and an amazing index. This book should be required reading for active duty members wearing jump wings. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library and would be an excellent addition to all university and community libraries.
I thought it would be fun to collect pictures of the houses I have lived in from birth to my current 60 plus years. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it was fun putting these together.
Below is visual proof of my lack of “roots”, that is my not feeling like I have a hometown. I was a military brat and United States Army Officer from birth until my late 20s. Then I worked as a Southern Baptist Religious Educator until my mid-40s. Military and minister are two vocations that are very nomadic.
Moving frequently goes with the job and life. I have lived/be stationed in over 25 locations. I attended 8 schools for 12 grades. The photos are either ones I took, my mother has, or compliments of Google Maps, street view. My memory or mother provided me with the addresses/locations.
I was born in 1953 at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
My father was in the US Air Force stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. Leaving the hospital, I moved in with my dad and mother.
We lived on Mesquite Street in San Antonio, Texas. It is located just east of downtown. The Alamodome is in the area where the house was built. I have a picture of the vacant lot where the house use to be.
Living in Ohio
In 1954 – 1955, my father was stationed at Clinton County Air Force Base in Ohio.
We lived in Bowersville, Ohio. I lived at 20 Church Street.
Living in Harwood, Texas
In part of 1955 and then 1956 I lived with my Grandfather in Harwood, Texas. My brother was born while we lived here. Well, he was born in Brooke Army General Hospital, just like me.
Living in in Greenville, South Carolina
My father was in Turkey with the US Air Force at this time.When dad got back from Turkey he was stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, South Carolina.
We moved to 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville, South Carolina. This where I have my first memories.
Living at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
While living in Greenville, SC we took a side trip to Scott Air Force Base where my father had extended military training.
While at Scott Air Force Base we lived in a military trailer park. We spent a snowy winter of 1956-1957 there before returning to our Greenville, SC home.
Living in the Valley of the Sun – Luke Air Force Base Arizona
In 1958, we moved to Glendale, Arizona as my dad took a new assignment at Luke Air Force Base.
We lived first in Glendale. I started elementary school at Glendale Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona in 1959. Dwight Eisenhower was the president of the USA. We lived on West G Avenue. Glendale renamed their streets around 1970 to match the names of the streets they connected with in Phoenix.
Then in 1960 we moved into the new base housing on Luke AFB where we stayed until 1963. I attended Luke Air Force Base Elementary School from February 1960 through the fourth grade. I had Mrs. Davis in the second grade and Mrs. Jensen in grades 3 and 4.
Living in Sequin, Texas – Dad in Vietnam
Dad headed to South Vietnam, and I headed to 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas.803 Jefferson Avenue, Seguin, Texas is where I lived in 1963 – 1964. I was in the 5th grade and living there when President Kennedy was assassinated and when The Beatles came to the USA.
The house was white with a green roof back then. It had trees in the yard and hedge around the house back in the day. It had a backyard that was over an acre. I had a great treehouse in the backyard tree as well as a huge garden. My father was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in South Vietnam.
I attend Jefferson Avenue Elementary School. It was located across the street from my house. Mrs. Englebrock was my fifth-grade teacher. She taught me to love to read and to write stories.
Living in El Paso, Texas – Biggs Air Force Base
Next I moved to El Paso, Texas in August 1964. My father was transferred to Biggs Air Force Base and B-52s. I don’t have a picture of our house on Raimey Circle. It has been torn down. I am still searching for a photo.
I attended Ben Milam School. Mr. Romero was my sixth-grade teacher. In the seventh grade, I played football and started having different teachers for each class.
Living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Pease Air Force Base
From here I moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Pease Air Force Base.
It was a neat place with lots of snow in the winter. I got to go to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine to the Longfellow and Chamberlain Homes. I went to the Robert Frost farm. I attended science camp at M.I.T. and Harvard University’s Summer Institute for the Gifted studying literature, poetry, and writing in their Humanities program.
I lived at 2024 Larkspur Circle on Pease Air Force Base in 1966 – 1967. I attended Portsmouth Junior High School. I was the eighth-grade class vice-president. I went to all the historical places in Boston and fell in love with history.
I was here until my father retired from the US Air Force. He earned a degree in business from New Hampshire College while we lived there. From here it was back to Texas.
I finished the last few weeks of the eighth grade in Nixon, Texas at Nixon Junior High School. We stayed with my grandparents until our furniture arrived and we moved into the below house.
Living in Schertz, Texas
We lived in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz. I lived at 1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas. I started high school at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas in 1967. I would move to the Dallas area at mid-semester. We also owned the house that was two to the left of this one.
Living in DeSoto, Texas – Last Place I lived Before I Married
I lived at 1010 Southwood Drive in DeSoto, Texas until I headed to college and married. My father still resides there. – Update: Mom passed away in 2014 and dad died in 2017.
Living in Arlington, Texas – My First Place
When I was 17, I got my first place. It was a duplex. In 1971 – 1972 I lived at 201 1/2 Ray Drive in Arlington, Texas while attending The University of Texas at Arlington.
Another College Residence – Arlington, Texas
I moved into an apartment with my brother in 1973. It was the Four Oaks Apartments off Pecan Street in Arlington.
Living in DeSoto, Texas- First Home as a Married Man
In December 1974, I married Benita Breeding, and we moved into an apartment in DeSoto, Texas on 283 South Hampton Road. We lived upstairs, the second unit from the end nearest as you look, was our home.
First Army Post – Fort Riley, Kansas
I spent the summers of 1974 and 1975 on active duty at Fort Riley, Kansas thanks to the US Army.
Living in Columbus Georgia
I graduated from college in 1975 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army. We moved to Columbus, Georgia. That’s where Fort Benning is located. We there 1975 – 1976.
We lived the Holly Hills Apartments with lots of second lieutenants in a unit off Oakley Court. I attended the US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and the Platoon Leader Maintenance Management Course while living there.
Living at Fort Lewis, Washington – Tacoma, Washington
We moved from there 3000 plus miles to Fort Lewis in Washington State. We were here 1976, 1977, 1978.
We lived in two different military quarters while there. The first was one bedroom. We got a two bedroom unit after our son Kristopher was born. While stationed at Fort Lewis I spent more time deployed or on training exercises
I made two trips to Camp Pendleton for training. I was there in 1976 and 1977.
In 1978, I spent some time at Twentynine Palms Marine Base.
Twice I spent months at Fort Irwin in the middle of nowhere for training. Actually think between Edwards AFB and Death Valley, CA for its location or halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Two times I suffered on the beaches of Coronado and San Diego. This was in 1976 and 1977.
In 1977, I was in a joint training exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho
While at Fort Lewis at the sub-post of Yakima Firing Center (as it was named in the 1970s) in 1976, 1977, 1978. Tank gunnery and T.O.W. Missiles had me there.
My unit had assignments like protecting the Alaskan Pipeline. Operation Jack Frost helped soldiers prepare for this mission, learn to preheat toilet paper and work in extreme cold.
My unit also had a mission to help if the North Koreans came back across the 38th parallel.
My unit also took part in REFORGER – Return of forces to Europe with treks to Italy and Germany in the fall of 1978.
Living in Fort Worth, Texas
From here we moved to Fort Worth Texas where I earned my master’s degree. We lived in student housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Gordon Avenue. This house had a floor the was not level. Our second son Jason was born while we lived here. We left here and moved to Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb when I graduated in 1980.
Living in Decatur, Georgia – Fist Full-time Church
We lived at 773 Scott Circle until our landlady moved back in when here husband passed away. Then we moved to a townhouse in Clarkston, Georgia. I served as Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.
The townhouses were large and state of the art for their time. It was an affluent baby-boomer paradise. This stock photo from Google doesn’t do them justice. They were located off Memorial Drive across from the DeKalb Community College. They were 99% owner-occupied townhomes with a very strict and sometimes mean homeowners association. I was still Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia while living here.
Living in Bogalusa, Louisiana
In December 1982, we moved to Bogalusa, Louisiana. We lived in a paper mill town and could smell it. I was Associate Pastor at Superior Avenue Baptist Church. While living here I started working on my doctorate.
Living in Jasper, Texas
In November 1984, we moved to Jasper, Texas. We lived in this house until 1988 when we bought our first home. Our daughter Sara Joy was born while we lived here. I was Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas. In 1987 I earned and was confirmed the doctor of education degree in educational administration.
The picture doesn’t do the house justice. The lot and house are larger than they look. The house was the Better Homes and Gardens House of the year in 1959 and was featured in Southern Living Magazine.
The people who bought the house after us took out all the azaleas and dogwoods we had and replaced with hedge and non-native trees. They also removed over a dozen seven-five-year-old or older trees. They added the black shutters, wrought iron windows, and doors and made it like a prison.
The multi-level tree house my kids had the backyard was also removed when the trees were cut down.
I was still Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas. I owned the house until March 1995. We moved from here in 1992 to Buna, Texas.
Living in Buna, Texas
This was on Halley Street in Buna, Texas. We lived in a church-owned home. It has been moved. The pastor lived in the house to the right. In the background is the church. I was Associate Pastor and Business Administrator at First Baptist Church of Buna, Texas. I lived here 1992 – 1993.
Living in Denison, Texas
Next I lived at 168 Chickadee in Dension, Texas from May 1993 until January 1996. Our oldest son graduated high school while we lived here. My father-in-law passed away while we lived here. I was Minister of Education and Senior Adults at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison, Texas. The house was small, did not have central air, and was close to the church.
Back in Jasper, Texas
I lived at 721 Marvin Hancock Drive in Jasper, Texas. We lived in the unit on the bottom left. We lived here for the spring semester of 1996. I was Vendor Management Specialist for East Texas Support Services overseeing the CCMS program for day care centers in 16 counties. I also taught early childhood education at a local university.
Living in The Colony, Texas
I bought our current home on Watson Drive in The Colony, Texas in July 1996. I have worked as a senior training specialist for American Express, Internet coordinator for Hilton Hotels, as a senior support engineer for Equator LLC, and in multiple Information Technology roles for Interstate Batteries while living here.
Our youngest two children finished high school, got college degrees, and our daughter married since we moved here. Sadly, the huge tree in the center of our front yard had to be cut down in 2007.
Update: My wife died in at home hospice care here on April 2018 from melanoma cancer.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.
I have read six books dealing with the Eastern Front in World War II. All were either memoirs written after the fact or traditionally researched works. “Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43” by Hans Roth, edited by Alexander Christine and Mason Kunze is different.
The book is the results of three diaries of Hans Roth. He was accounted as missing in action in 1944. Amazingly a buddy on leave delivered the three volumes of diaries to Roth’s relatives. They cover the years 1941, 1942 and 1943. Sadly, Hans Roth vanishes as another MIA unaccounted for casualty of war.
The diaries are incredible. They show that he viewed part of the actions as being pre-emptive (p. 27). There was a clear fear of the Russians being on German soil and killing his loved ones. We learn that the diaries include content that would have never cleared the censors plus he was glad to keep the horrors away from his dear wife.
The book is spectacular. Hans Roth provided a wonderful service for his family and future generations by recording what he witnessed and what he was ordered to do.
You can feel the fear he felt. You can sense the mixed emotions he experienced. The day to day log of his units actions with his understanding of what was going on are amazing. The detail and description he provides of the surroundings paints a remarkable portrait of the times.
Hans Roth realized that luck was a key part of survival. He makes this clear time and time again. The amount of artillery and equipment the Russians had seems to have caught the Germans by surprise. The aircraft strafing runs and Russian counterattacks in 1941 caught me by surprise. Other works reported little or none on these until 1942 and later.
Note: As I read I could feel the growing fatigue and cynicism Hans Roth had a result of the war. His love of his wife and family shows regularly in his comments. The book is an important resource for anyone interested in the Eastern Front as well as those who want a realistic look at the terrors of war. It is gripping and paints one of the clearest pictures ever of how war is horrendous.
Christine Alexander and Mason Kuntze deserve a big thank you for the editing and translation of this project.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. He is old enough to collect Social Security if he wants, but not yet old enough for Medicare. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.
“The Battle of the Denmark Strait: A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck’s Singular Triumph” by Robert Winklareth achieves its goal of being a narrative description of how the Battle of the Denmark Strait was fought. He does a masterful job of explaining the significance of key events leading up to both the battle and its aftermath. The book is incredibly technically detailed, yet very readable. It tells the story of one of the most famous naval battles of World War II.
The book and its massive appendices provide a wealth of information. The photographs and drawings by the author give a perspective not seen before. The book’s structure is three parts containing the twenty eight chapters and seven appendices. Part one covers the demise of the German Navy at the end of World War II and continues to the Bismark in the Rhine Exercise (Operation Rheinübung).
Part two of the book is the actual battle in the Denmark Strait. This is where the Hood is destroyed and the Prince of Wales retreats.
Part three is the search for and destruction of the Bismark.
The author is a technical analyst. His knowledge of and attention to detail may be too much for the casual reader, but for the hard-core student of military or naval history I gives an insight that will be appreciated. The use of photos taken from the Prinz Eugen and the analysis of the photos adds to the understanding of the battle, though the placement n the book had me turning back and forth sometimes searching to match picture and data. I think its important to point out this is a very balanced book making good use of both British and German sources.
This is a must book for any serious student of naval history. It would be a great addition to any World War II buff. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.
If you enjoy reading about airborne troops, special operations, andelite troops in World War IIthen author Michael F. Dilley’s book “Behind the Lines: A Critical Survey of Special Operations in World War II” is for you.Divided into two parts, part one of the book is titled, “Behind Enemy Lines”. It tells twenty stories of special operations behind enemy lines. The excellent story telling of the author has shines in all twenty of the stories. Each story stands on its own.
Starting with the Tragino Aqueduct Mission in southern Italy where we see the foolishness of the first mission that requires a fifty mile escape and evasion trek just to get to the pickup point without radio communication to stories on the raid to kill General Rommel and eighteen others that cover every theater of operation we see a common structure. The author tells at times a very spellbinding story followed by the strength of the book – a mission critique. The mission critique show Michael F. Dilley’s strong military intelligence analysis skills.
The second part of the book, “Behind Friendly Lines” lifted back the curtain on an often missed use of special operations soldiers. We look at three amazing missions where they are dropped just behind or into friendly lines.
The pictures included in the book are not a reprinting of stock photos you have seen many times, but rather photographs of uniforms, insignias, and special troops in their special equipment.
The book’s appendixes give us the criteria for evaluation of the units and the operations deserving special recognition. The bibliography included is by itself a resource worth the purchase price of the book.
Michael F. Dailey gets my highest praise for this much needed work on a subject dear to every world war history buff.
General Albert C. Wedemeyer: America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II by John McLaughlin. Be there no doubt, the author is a fan of General Albert C. Wedemeyer. The book is a statement of admiration for the general. This is not bad. I am very knowledgeable in military history as a historian by education and a former US Army officer. This book made me aware of a large gap in my knowledge. Yes, I had heard of General Wedemeyer. I was aware of his leadership in China. No, I had no idea he was the architect and strategist of the “Victory Program” which conceived the plans for US mobilization and included the D-Day invasion.
In the late 1930s he was an exchange student at the German Kriegsakademia, the Nazis’ equivalent of Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff School. Because of this,he recognized the revolutionary tactics of Blitzkrieg once they were unleashed, and he knew how to respond.
The book is researched with the skill of a scholar and told in a straight forward way that is very engaging. We learn of a man who held key roles of strategizing on both the European and Asian fronts.
General Wedemeyer was an amazing intellect, one of the brightest minds the US has ever had. Dr. John McLaughlin did a great job of giving us the facts, telling the story, and leaving a tribute to General Albert C. Wedemeyer who was America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II. The book is very good. It has lessons for military leaders, politicians, and strategic strategist.
As a lifelong history buff, military history enthusiast, former US Army officer and holder of a BA degree in history, I find myself pleasantly surprised from time to time when I encounter a book that fills a void in my historical education. “Sacrifice On The Steppe: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943″ written by Hope Hamilton and published by Casemate is one such book. The idea for the book originated when the author listened to her uncles’ reflections of his participation in World War II.
When Hitler had Germany invade Russia in June 1941, Prime Minister of Italy Mussolini declared war on Russia. He quickly sent a hastily organized Italian Expeditionary force of 62,000 men to join the Russian campaign even though Adolf Hitler discouraged such a move. Italy was unprepared militarily. Mussolini’s motivation was to join Hitler in receiving the spoils following an imagined rapid Nazi victory against Russia.”
Hope Hamilton’s book draws on personal interviews, exhaustive research and the written accounts of Italians who participated in and survived Mussolini’s tragic decision of Italian involvement. Mussolini compounded his mistake by sending even more troops the following year. The author does a good job of showing the human side of the Italian involvement on the Russian front. This is not a scholarly work on the tactics and logistics of the Italian involvement. Rather, it is the story of the people who made the terrible trek from Italy to Russia to support their German ally. The German’s had little trust of and kept the Italians minimally informed and I believe misused the Alpine troops by not maximizing the troops mountain fighting ability by their placement along the Don River.
The author does a great job of telling the soldier’s story. Her writing style focuses on the individual accounts of the soldiers. She discusses how the Alpine Corps was caught up in the German campaign capture Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942. She takes us through the Soviet offensive that followed in late November. We experience the collapse of the entire Axis front and the Alpine Corps’ withdrawal to the Don. I could have used a more background about the Stalingrad Campaign. The book does not take a strategic view of the campaign. Little attention is given to the big picture. The story is told from the Italian point of view instead of looking at it from the Axis point of view.
The book includes good notes, is well indexed, and has a great bibliography. I enjoyed the book. If you are looking for an after action report of the Italian participation or a critical analysis of the campaign this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a good overview and an understanding of what the Italian soldiers experienced then you’ll enjoy the book. I give it four stars. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library. It is a good first volume to fill a long void of an English language account of the Italian involvement on the eastern front.
Travel with Jack Womer from the steel mills of Dundalk, Maryland through his being drafted (which he resented) and assigned to the 29th Infantry Division to his deployment to England. Experience with him his selection to and the nearly yearlong training with the British commandos as a member of the 29th’s elite Provisional Ranger battalion. You will learn how he joined the 101st Airborne Division after the disbanding of 29th Ranger Battalion.
You will meet the group of demolitionist he joined in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s demolition platoon as they fight in Normandy, Holland, the Ardennes and Germany. The detail of the combat jump into Normandy gives you the sensation of being there as well as showing the confusion on the group. Wormer shares examples how his Ranger training helped him survive in combat. Unfortunately, he does not share the same level of detail in the campaigns following Normandy.
Co-author Stephen Devito did a great job of interviewing Wormer and putting his stories into a first person narrative. The book gives the feel of a veteran telling the actions of his youth.
Wormer shares how he and other soldiers had girlfriends when in England, but his heart yearned to return to the United States and his fiancée Theresa. A side note I enjoyed was the story of how he asked Theresa for a new picture and she refused. He told the story of his desire for a replacement picture. The press picked up the story. The Baltimore newspaper carried the story. We see his fiancée Theresa’s response/reactions.
The book’s title “The Filthy Thirteen” is the nick-name of the section in the 506th’s demolition platoon that Wormer was assigned. It operated/used special equipment like flame-throwers and explosives to attack and clear German positions. These men were infamous for hard living, tough fighting, and poor personal hygiene that earned them their name. The claim is made that The Filthy was an inspiration for the film the Dirty Dozen.
I recommend this well-written and interesting book.
George Koskimaki wrote three books on the 101st Airborne Division. They are 1) D-Day with the Screaming Eagles, 2) Hell’s Highway: Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in the Holland Campaign, September – November 1944, and 3) Battered Bastards of Bastogne. This is a review of book three, Battered Bastards of Bastogne. George Koskimaki offers unique insights, as he was 101st Airborne Division commanding general, General Maxwell Taylor’s radio operator.
Battered Bastards of Bastogne fleshes out in vivid detail the entire story of the Screaming Eagles’ valiant struggle. It gives us information not covered in the other books by interweaving the stories of 530 soldiers interviewed who were on the ground or in the air over Bastogne. They lived, made this history and much of it is told in their own words.
The story of the Battle of the Bulge is amazing. We learn how little time had passed from the Holland Campaign before the 101st is pulled from being their reserve role. We see ill-equipped they were in terms of weapons. We find out their equipment and uniforms had not been replenished after Market Garden/Holland Campaign. We hear the often-told story of the lack of winter weather gear. We see how stupid some were in tossing their limited cold weather gear like over shoes when the weather was a little less cold at the beginning of the battle. We see circumstances with General Taylor being called back to the USA for a staff conference, the shifting of key senior NCO’s due to enjoying their time off line too much, and how the division moved into combat via ground transportation for the first time.
I especially enjoyed the detail and interweaving of the soldiers stories. It is amazing to view moments on the battlefield through multiple points of view. Some readers may find the book hard or even tedious to get through because of the detail. I did not. I found it added to the story. As in the author’s two previous works on the 101st I find the personal accounts gave vitality to the story. It kept it flowing instead of reading like a military after action report. Once again, Mr. Koskimaki did a superb job of telling the history the 101st Airborne Division. I appreciated the way the book is both descriptive and detailed. It gives you a feel that you are there with the men. The author did an outstanding job in this area. This is must reading for any student of World War II history.
George Koskimaki was 101st Airborne Division commanding general, General Maxwell Taylor’s radio operator. He wrote the three-book history of the 101st Airborne during World War Two. Hell’s Highway: Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in the Holland Campaign, September – November 1944 is the second book in the series.
I had previously read Cornelius Ryan’s “A Bridge to Far”, Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” and “Citizen Soldiers”, Robert Kershaw’s “It Never Snows in September: The German View of Market-Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944”, Martin Middlebrooks’s “Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle” (focusing on the British specifically at the Arnhem sector), and James Gavin’s “On to Berlin”. All of the books gave good presentations and different points of view of Operation Market Garden. George Koskimaki’s book is based on interviews with more than six hundred paratroopers journals the soldiers intense personal accounts. It gives the vivid previously untold versions of the Screaming Eagles’ valiant struggle.
Hell’s Highway gives us something not covered in the other books. It tells of the Dutch people and members of the underground and their liberation after five years of oppression by the Nazis. It shares how they have never forgotten America’s airborne heroes and how the 101st endangered and even sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the Netherlands and Europe.
While some readers may find the book hard or even tedious to get through because of the detail, I did not. The personal accounts gave vitality to the story. It kept it flowing instead of reading like a military after action report. Mr. Koskimaki did a superb job of telling the history the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden.
The book is just right for beginners and experts of the 101st Airborne Division. The three books George Koskimaki wrote on the 101stAirborne Division are 1) D-Day with the Screaming Eagles, 2) Hell’s Highway: Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in the Holland Campaign, September – November 1944, and 3) Battered Bastards of Bastogne. I highly recommend the book.