Monday, November 26, 2007

War in the winter

I just finished Alex Kershaw's The Longest Winter. This is the story of a single platoon, the eighteen members of which, through the dogged defense of their position at the beginning of the German onslaught at the Battle of the Bulge on December, 16, 1944, managed to delay the advance of a critical German regiment of Panzer tanks for twelve crucial hours.

Amazingly, the entire platoon survived despite a couple of members receiving dreadful wounds. Because they were all captured (only surrendering after having completely exhausted their supply of ammunition) and through the discombobulation associated with the decommissioning of captured soldiers at the end of the war, the significance of their actions and the beneficial consequences of their defense was not recognized until years later. Medals and commendations for members of the platoon did not actually get awarded until the 1970's.

More than the battle actions, this is a good book for painting the most remarkable feats of very ordinary American citizen soldiers.

You might pair this with a pictorial version of an incident of the Battle of the Bulge, captured in Peggy Mercer's There Come a Soldier .

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