As America entered World War II, the U.S. Army routed its brightest draftees to colleges and universities. They were to master foreign languages and learn intelligence techniques. Enormous casualties in the invasion of Italy, however, forced the Army to send its best and brightest – and greenest – straight to the replacement pool. Each was given a choice: rifle, machine gun or mortar.
This story tells how a recovering veteran of North African combat shepherded a dozen such youngsters to England for training. From there he took them into Normandy against the toughest Army on earth.
When the United States entered World War II, the U.S. Army sent its most intelligent draftees to colleges and universities all over the country. Their duties were to master enemies’ and allies’ languages and to learn interrogation and espionage techniques.
The invasion of Italy resulted in such enormous casualties, however, that the Army was forced to send its near-geniuses into its infantry replacement pool. These untrained men, needed to fill gaps in the divisions destined to invade Normandy, were given the choice of serving in a mortar section, manning a machine gun or carrying a rifle.
Sgt. Allan Dudley, recovering from wounds sustained during combat in North Africa, is assigned as a cadre to supervise Army Special Training Program students at a Midwestern university. He and his colleagues fear for the lives of their genius-level charges. He winds up as the leader of a squad of green troops shipped to England. He trains them there while, quite by accident, being befriended by a titled British family. He and the family’s war-widow daughter become intimate and, eventually, engage to marry.
First, though, he leads his naïve wiseacre troops ashore in the first wave at Utah Beach. Within minutes they come into contact with the battle-hardened Wehrmacht, losing their first two casualties. They keep paying, in blood, for the lessons the Germans inflict upon them.
Over time, however, their training pays off and they are able to push the Nazis back in the next 10 months of horror through Normandy’s hedgerows, the hell of the Hurtgen Forest, the freezing weeks of the Bulge and, finally, in crossing the Rhine for the final triumphant invasion of the German heartland.
. . . being a Briton, I appreciated the development of the British relationships; his descriptions and inter-relationships of the British family were so accurate. An excellent read, I had trouble putting the book down until I had finished it.
I believe Mr. Payne did an amazing amount of research and it shows . . . a very good story with accurate historical facts, adventure, and romance.
It was a very good read and interesting to me as a veteran and history reader. Payne brings out the technical aspects of weaponry and manages to capture the bond formed by the characters in the military unit. It was a well told story.
I have always enjoyed reading world war 2 books both fiction and non-fiction and this book ranks up at the top. Well researched and well written, the characters are believable and the story flows and keeps you engrossed.
This is a great WW2 novel. I had trouble putting the book down. The authenticity is evident throughout. The combat seems so real, you can smell the cordite.
First time reader of this author. I will read anything this author writes! Extremely interesting storyline, well developed characters, kept my interest and it was hard to put down.