Battered Bastards of Bastogne by George Koskimaki

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.

Free France’s Lion: The Life Of Philippe Leclerc, De Gaulle’s Greatest General by William Moore

Most students of World War II are familiar with General Charles de Gaulle. Only the most serious know of General Philippe Leclerc. I consider myself very knowledgeable when it comes to World War II history. William Mortimer Moore’s biography of Philippe Leclerc filled a void in my education. The book is well-written. It held my attention.

The story begins with Leclerc’s death. We learn of his ill-fated November 1947 airplane flight and fatal crash in Algeria. We next are educated on the details of his family history including his coming from an old line of nobility being made aware of the role of his Catholic faith and heritage. We travel with Leclerc following the fall of France in 1940 to London. We go with him to Africa, as he becomes governor of French Cameroon, travel with him as he battles the Axis in Chad and moves his troops across West Africa where he distinguished himself in Tunisia.

General Leclerc commands the French 2nd Armored Division. They land in Normandy; he participates in the battle of the Falaise Pocket, and the liberation of Paris. Leclerc and de Gaulle had to persuade Eisenhower to send troops help the Parisians.

At the end of World War II in Europe, he received command of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps, and represented France during the surrender of the Japanese Empire, signing the surrender document for France. Leclerc is the commander over French Indo-China after World War II. He approved negations with Ho Chi Minh which were unsuccessful. He returned to France.

The book is a must read for any serious student of World War II in Europe. The book is extensively footnoted. The footnotes are heavy with secondary, rather than primary sources. It has an excellent index. It would be an excellent addition to any community, college or personal library. “Free France’s Lion: The Life Of Philippe Leclerc, De Gaulle’s Greatest General” is written by William Moore. The publisher is Casemate Publishers.