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Subject: Book reccomendations rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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I am looking for books which centre around infantry actions in North West Europe during WW2 which concentrate on the actions of individual soldiers or squads.

I have read the following books
Heroes of World War 2 Tom Bower
Escape and Evasion Ian Dear
Greatest Stories of WW2 Robin Cross
The Call of the Bugler Patrick Strafford
By Tank D to VE Days Ken Tout
Tank 40 Hours of Battle Ken Tout
A Fine Night for Tanks Ken Tout

I know Ken Tout has another book or two which I am hoping to hunt down.
I am looking for any book which gives an account of a soldiers life or several different accounts from a soldiers perspective. I really enjoyed The Call of the Bugler but it is a short book.

Thanks
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Michael Dorosh
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whatambush wrote:
I am looking for books which centre around infantry actions in North West Europe during WW2 which concentrate on the actions of individual soldiers or squads.

I have read the following books
Heroes of World War 2 Tom Bower
Escape and Evasion Ian Dear
Greatest Stories of WW2 Robin Cross
The Call of the Bugler Patrick Strafford
By Tank D to VE Days Ken Tout
Tank 40 Hours of Battle Ken Tout
A Fine Night for Tanks Ken Tout

I know Ken Tout has another book or two which I am hoping to hunt down.
I am looking for any book which gives an account of a soldiers life or several different accounts from a soldiers perspective. I really enjoyed The Call of the Bugler but it is a short book.

Thanks


Infantry Aces of the Reich by Gordon Williamson (not all are NW Europe)
Flamethrower by Andrew Wilson (tank commander, but may be of interest)

I don't know that there are a lot of great autobiographies that go into the detail you are looking for. There are some very realistic novels by ex-soldiers. "Private" by Lester Atwell comes to mind.

Any number of books by and about Audie Murphy detail his action in the Colmar Pocket.

Some anecdotal books of looser stories include Poor Bloody Infantry by Charles Whiting and On The Front Lines by John Ellis, which both discuss the experience of men in infantry squads in World War II.

One that might best suit your needs is Robert Rush's book G.I. by Osprey, which is actually a reprint of three (?) other smaller Osprey titles. It's very good, but also a fictionalized telling of a "typical" rifleman's experience in the ETO.
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Langley Kitchings
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Perhaps Company Commander by Charles B. Macdonald.
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Chris Carnes
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What he ^ said! Company Commander is fantastic.

Also, "If you Survive" by George Wilson

http://www.amazon.com/Company-Commander-Classic-Infantry-Mem...

http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0804100039?tag=article-boardg...]
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Hawkeye
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Roll Me Over: An Infantryman's World War II

http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Me-Over-Infantrymans-World/dp/080...
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Dave C.
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Seconds for "On the Front Lines" by John Ellis
Double seconds for "To Hell and Back" by Audie Murphy
MacDonald and Gantner are also indispensible.

Also Good but less well-known:

The Men of Company K by Jospeh Leinbaugh
Day of the Panzer by Jeff Danby
The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo by Glover John
Parachute Infantry by David Webster
Visions from a Foxhole by William Foley

For the "big picture" accentuated with lots of the details you're looking for;

The GI's War by Edwin P. Hoyt
Anything by Gerald Astor
Anything by Joseph Balkoski

All this stuff is about US units, don't have many to suggest about other Allied units.
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jonathan schleyer
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There are some really interesting sources of information here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/980745/ghost-panzer-1-design...

The designer of Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles wrote a post sharing the references he used to create his game on infantry tactics during WWII in the West in 1944-1945.

His expansion Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer will be about tanks in the Eastern Front.


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Michael Dorosh
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Blackhorse wrote:
What he ^ said! Company Commander is fantastic.

Also, "If you Survive" by George Wilson

http://www.amazon.com/Company-Commander-Classic-Infantry-Mem...

http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0804100039?tag=article-boardg...]


This is what I was getting at with my reply. I presume based on past posting history that the OP was looking for accounts by riflemen/private soldiers ("soldiers") and squad leaders. The trouble is, the most literate accounts seem to have come from officers, who commanded platoons and companies. I'm just not aware of that many first person accounts by riflemen or members of rifle squads.

Ironically, I could name some from the Italian Campaign or other less well known theatres (or even the Russian Front, Korea or Vietnam), but for some reason, I can't think of a lot to come out of NW Europe, perhaps because the fighting consumed riflemen at such an alarming rate.

Stan Scislowski wrote a very good one on his experiences in Italy - he was a private in the Perth Regiment, and a number of private soldiers/junior NCOs from the First Special Service Force have left decent accounts, aided by the fact that their unit is well-known.
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Jur dj
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
provence wrote:
There are some really interesting sources of information here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/980745/ghost-panzer-1-design...

The designer of Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles wrote a post sharing the references he used to create his game on infantry tactics during WWII in the West in 1944-1945.


There is no shortage of books on infantry tactics - Michael Doubler's work, for example is well known. Finding good autobiographies by private soldiers who fought and survived as riflemen is another thing.

I wonder if the raw data for SLA Marshall's work out of the archives might not be a start.

Similar is Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War by Robert Engen, which has been discussed in this forum, and was researched from post-battle questionnaires - again, distributed to junior officers in command of platoons and companies.


Hi Whatambush, great question. Maybe change the title of the threat to 'WWII memoirs recommendations' so it's easier for others to find in the future. If found John Ellis, the Sharp End and A Time To Kill by Paul Addison and Angus Calder good introductions on the experiences of men on the front line and aimed mostly at NWE 1944-5

Bill Bellamy's Troop Leader and Robert Boscawen's Armoured Guardsmen are interesting recollections of tank warfare in Normandy and beyond, with a few combat chapters.

The Guns of War (aka The Guns of Normandy + The Guns of Victory) by George Blackburn are an artilleryman's account

Hell in Huertgen Forest by Robert Rush is not a memoir but an account of a US regiment in that battle. So combines many of the aspects you mention.
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Eamon Finnerty
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Try
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fighting-Wessex-Wyverns-Normandy-Bre...

A great read
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Mike Hoyt

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Citizen Soldiers by Ambrose. Been awhile, but I rememeber it as one of his better books.
 
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Gabriel Perez
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Band of Brothers: E Company, Regiment 506, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle Nest
Biggest Brother: Life of Major Dick Winters, the man who led the Band of Brothers

I know its off topic, but I read Admirals: Nitmiz, Halsey, Leahy, and King, the 5 star admirals who won the war at sea by Walter Borneman
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rod humble

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Not specific to NW Europe (although a lot of it is) but The Sharp End is very good.

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Charles Vasey
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http://www.amazon.co.uk/18-Platoon-Sydney-Jary/dp/1901655016...

How infantry units are actually led.
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Alec Clair
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It focuses on US tactical doctrine in NW europe. The description of the studied engagements at the tactical level was quite good.

However I think the final conclusion, saying that the GI were sucessfull because they were better at learning lessons from the field and to adapt themselves, was a little doubtfull.
I think that other nations, and in particular the Germans were equally good at adapting their books tactics, from lessons gained on the battlefield.
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Michael Sommers
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deltarn wrote:
However I think the final conclusion, saying that the GI were sucessfull because they were better at learning lessons from the field and to adapt themselves, was a little doubtfull.
I think that other nations, and in particular the Germans were equally good at adapting their books tactics, from lessons gained on the battlefield.

What the US army excelled at was promulgating lessons learned throughout the army.
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Michael Dorosh
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deltarn wrote:

I think that other nations, and in particular the Germans were equally good at adapting their books tactics, from lessons gained on the battlefield.


I have copies of the British/Canadian OFFICERS TRAINING MEMORANDUM which was distributed to every junior officer in those armies, which was an attempt to do this. Though honestly, they talk about tactics in such vague terms that I'm not sure they were of much help. (Actually, I get the impression from reading Harrison-Place that their actual manuals were little better, as they struggled to write an infantry manual for much of the war, and he tells us that he could find only a single example in Normandy of a platoon that actually attacked according to methods laid out in the manual anyway - hence the desire for researchers to find decent personal accounts.) They also mix up the subjects, from everything to how to mark jerry-cans, to how to obtain the latest movies on V.D.

If the Germans had something like Infantry Training Memorandum, I'd be interested in knowing about it. Did you have some information on that?
 
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Alec Clair
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Michael Dorosh wrote:

If the Germans had something like Infantry Training Memorandum, I'd be interested in knowing about it. Did you have some information on that?


I have no idea, if the Germans had formal documents to teach lessons learned in combats throughout their army. My point was only to mention that they were quite apt at learning from combats. I mean judging by their tactical performances, but not knowing the ins and outs of how they proceeded internally.

I also think that in Normandy 44, many (not all) American units were largely unready for the upcoming types of combat. Their experience was much lower than other natons fighting since 1940-1941. So they had a much greater margin for improvements. As a result their progress appears faster.

It's not my intention to belittle the rapid improvements of the US army in 1944. Their command structure, plus freer speech, allowed the combat lessons to move trough the various levels of command. And they did very well in this respect.

But my own humble opinion is that the author put too heavy emphasis on this, presenting it like a stunning discovery, ans also firing on previous studies of the US army. Disregarding the fact that it was a partly intentional but also partly improvised process. I think learning from combats is also quite natural, if you can survive your initial weaknesses.

Stalling all july long in Normandy it was not surprising that, at various levels, peoples experimented with different combat approaches. When the results were succesfull, words spread quickly.



 
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Michael Dorosh
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deltarn wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:

If the Germans had something like Infantry Training Memorandum, I'd be interested in knowing about it. Did you have some information on that?


I have no idea, if the Germans had formal documents to teach lessons learned in combats throughout their army. My point was only to mention that they were quite apt at learning from combats. I mean judging by their tactical performances, but not knowing the ins and outs of how they proceeded internally.



I get completely the opposite impression and wonder where you draw this conclusion from.

Quote:
I also think that in Normandy 44, many (not all) American units were largely unready for the upcoming types of combat.


The Germans admit that they were as well. Take a look at the 12th SS in the first days of the invasion, and how poorly they performed. The Panzer Lehr histories all admit that despite the German Army being camped in the bocage for four years, no one gave a minute to thinking about how they might actually fight there when the invasion came.

Quote:
But my own humble opinion is that the author put too heavy emphasis on this, presenting it like a stunning discovery, ans also firing on previous studies of the US army. Disregarding the fact that it was a partly intentional but also partly improvised process. I think learning from combats is also quite natural, if you can survive your initial weaknesses.


I don't think the Germans did it well at all; their standard doctrine of defence - light outposts and immediate counter-attack - was costly in the extreme, and they did it even when circumstances dictated that something else would be more appropriate. At the operational level, they counterattacked when they should have marshalled resources, and there were far too many "stand or die" orders when they should have been maneuvering.

So I'm curious to know what it is you feel they learned?

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Michael Sommers
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
I have copies of the British/Canadian OFFICERS TRAINING MEMORANDUM which was distributed to every junior officer in those armies, which was an attempt to do this. Though honestly, they talk about tactics in such vague terms that I'm not sure they were of much help. (Actually, I get the impression from reading Harrison-Place that their actual manuals were little better, as they struggled to write an infantry manual for much of the war, and he tells us that he could find only a single example in Normandy of a platoon that actually attacked according to methods laid out in the manual anyway - hence the desire for researchers to find decent personal accounts.) They also mix up the subjects, from everything to how to mark jerry-cans, to how to obtain the latest movies on V.D.

I gather from your description that this document was intended to teach officers all their duties; it was not intended primarily as a tactical manual. Not all officers are in the infantry, and even those who are have to do things other than fight.
 
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Michael Sommers
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deltarn wrote:
I also think that in Normandy 44, many (not all) American units were largely unready for the upcoming types of combat. Their experience was much lower than other natons fighting since 1940-1941. So they had a much greater margin for improvements. As a result their progress appears faster.

If you mean that the US army was unready for combat in general, then how did they manage to get ashore and stay there? As for other countries being more experienced, are you referring to Dunkirk? Norway? Greece? Crete? Nothing in that experience suggests a general superiority of British arms over American.

If you mean the bocage specifically, then yes, the army was unprepared for it, but no one else was, either. And in another sense, they were prepared, in that they were prepared, organizationally and culturally, to deal with the unexpected. By "culturally", I mean army culture, but also the culture of society at large. The US army was prepared to pay attention to what the troops said; most armies are not (I suspect that even today's US army is less willing to do so than the army in Normandy was). And Americans in general showed more initiative and self-reliance than many other people, and this carried over into the army. This is obviously a huge generalization, but I definitely get the impression that when confronted with the bocage, while American soldiers sought solutions on their own, soldiers of other armies would have waited around until someone told them what to do about it.

Quote:
It's not my intention to belittle the rapid improvements of the US army in 1944. Their command structure, plus freer speech, allowed the combat lessons to move trough the various levels of command. And they did very well in this respect.

But my own humble opinion is that the author put too heavy emphasis on this, presenting it like a stunning discovery, ...

I think it highly unusual that generals should pay any attention to what colonels and majors say, much less lieutenants and sergeants.

Quote:
... I think learning from combats is also quite natural, if you can survive your initial weaknesses.

Individually, yes, but individual experience is no good to anyone else unless they somehow learn about it.

Quote:
Stalling all july long in Normandy ...

I wouldn't say "stalling"; there was daily progress, but it was indeed slow.

Quote:
... it was not surprising that, at various levels, peoples experimented with different combat approaches.

I think it was somewhat surprising. Or at least it would have been in some, or even most, armies. Can you come up with similar examples in other armies?

Quote:
When the results were succesfull, words spread quickly.

The thing is that the word did not spread naturally, but that the army took positive steps to spread the word by publishing and distributing memos (or whatever you want to call them) on the subject. Not just the bocage, but as an ongoing project throughout the war. That, was truly innovative, as far as I know.
 
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Michael Dorosh
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tms2 wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
I have copies of the British/Canadian OFFICERS TRAINING MEMORANDUM which was distributed to every junior officer in those armies, which was an attempt to do this. Though honestly, they talk about tactics in such vague terms that I'm not sure they were of much help. (Actually, I get the impression from reading Harrison-Place that their actual manuals were little better, as they struggled to write an infantry manual for much of the war, and he tells us that he could find only a single example in Normandy of a platoon that actually attacked according to methods laid out in the manual anyway - hence the desire for researchers to find decent personal accounts.) They also mix up the subjects, from everything to how to mark jerry-cans, to how to obtain the latest movies on V.D.

I gather from your description that this document was intended to teach officers all their duties; it was not intended primarily as a tactical manual. Not all officers are in the infantry, and even those who are have to do things other than fight.


To put it briefly - it wasn't a training manual, but just what the name implies; a memoranda - "short notes written as a reminder." The notes included not just "links" as we would call them now to pertinent training manuals, but short descriptions and articles attempting to illustrate points of order.

Like the Marines, however, I believe British and Canadian officers were expected to have a minimum level of competency in leading soldiers in ground combat. That is certainly the case today in the Canadian Army. This may have been truer in theory than practice, but that was another goal of the document.
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Michael Sommers
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Like the Marines, however, I believe British and Canadian officers were expected to have a minimum level of competency in leading soldiers in ground combat. That is certainly the case today in the Canadian Army. This may have been truer in theory than practice, but that was another goal of the document.

Even marine officers have responsibilities that do not directly involve tactics.
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Paul Martz
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Paul Fussell's "Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic" is a very good book, but perhaps not what you are looking for. It is more about how his wartime experience affected him throughout his life. He is quite cynical. That said, it has been over 10 years since I read it and whenever the topic of the infantry in WWII comes up, it is one of the first things I think of.

I have not read his "The Boys' Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945." It may be closer to what you are looking for.

edit: scratch that, I see you are looking for individual actions. I don;t think either if these fits the bill.

edit: cleaned up some language
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Michael Dorosh
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tms2 wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Like the Marines, however, I believe British and Canadian officers were expected to have a minimum level of competency in leading soldiers in ground combat. That is certainly the case today in the Canadian Army. This may have been truer in theory than practice, but that was another goal of the document.

Even marine officers have responsibilities that do not directly involve tactics.


I honestly have no earthly idea what point you're trying to make.

Incidentally, I have direct experience working in the company headquarters of an infantry company, in garrison and in the field, and have a very good idea of what the officers were responsible for so I'm certainly not disputing anything you've said. I just don't understand why you keep saying it?
 
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