File Size: 1230 KB
Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Sapere Books (August 21, 2017)
Publication Date: August 21, 2017
This book is not only written in an interesting way for military historians and enthusiasts alike, but Dupuy has collected many individual stories of heroism and personal sacrifice. Anyone whose father or grandfather fought with the 106th will find this book to be a treasure-trove of information about troop movements, counter-actions by the enemy and acts of individual heroism.
Perhaps the only weakness I could point out is that the book is rather weak on battle maps, but for the amateur historian looking for the personal stories of the men who fought and died in this battle, there is no better source. For the person looking for more detailed battle map sources, I would suggest the Hugh Cole book "Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge".,As Sun Tzu writes in his 'Preliminary Calculations' of five fundamental factors: "The first of these factors is moral influence; the second, weather; the third, terrain; the fourth, command; and the fifth, doctrine." In delineating these factors, DuPuy's account of the 106th Division's baptism of fire is the best account that I have read of this critical salient in the Ardennes.
My grandfather was the BAR man in the 423rd Regiment and one of those who managed to break free of the encirclement and link up with the 634th AA Heavy Weapons - with which he fought with through Belgium, Huertgen, and Germany. He also noted that this was the best account that he had read of the Bulge, much more comprehensive and surely more fair to the troopers in this beleagured division than the Whiting material. What, at first glance, appears to be the story of a rout, assumes much more importance when readers realize the critical nature of time and resource allocation in this particular sector. If the Germans had broke through this sector on 15-16 December, the Bulge could have been a much larger affair.
DuPuy's attention to detail and to the specific tactical movements down to the platoon and even squad level is most impressive. More importantly, he singles out the officers (like Lt. Eric Wood or Lt. Craig) who deserve so much credit for their intuition, discipine, and bravery (the 'moral' fabric). Beyond that, he focuses on the NCOs and the corporals and privates who contributed so much in the 36 hours in which this division was able to blunt the German attack and prevent the Panzer armies of Dietrich, Peiper, and Modell from attaining critical road nets and fuel depots in the first three days of the counteroffensive.
DuPuy's wide-ranging research pays off. I enjoyed the focus on the common, everyday soldier who contributed so much in these harrowing times. Surely German generals such as Rommel, Von Luck, and Peiper would agree in the adaptive creativity of the American soldier - ultimately so critical in every theatre of the war. During these first few days of the Bulge, the 106th was painfully short of supplies and materiel and had to rely on the 'human' element that was so important to Sun Tzu and Mao Tse-tung.
The day-by-day account gave me some structure with which to help understand my grandfather's hazy account of these days - in which he was cut off from his regiment after running out of ammo, continued to launch guerrilla attacks against German units as he slowly made his way back to St. Vith (similar to the Eric Wood story, Belgians let him use their barn for shelter. My grandfather and a fellow trooper saved their last cow from the Germans who tried to tie the beast to their squad car. After helping a rifle squad take out two Mark IVs with mines, my grandfather ended up commanding one of 634th's half-tracks in the final defense of St. Vith (Battery C).
The details regarding the field artillery, engineer, and medical units were fascinating. Usually, these critical units are under-mentioned as focus is placed on the combat teams. I have been to the battlefield memorials in Belgium and Luxembourg and was happy to see the memorials for these support units who proved so critical during these days. I can't imagine moving howitzers on the side roads in the mud and snow with harassing enemy fire coming down. Yet each of these howitzers that survived made a difference, similar to the individuals who took on Panzers by themselves in order to give their colleagues additional time for a coordinated pull-back.
I recommend reading this book in one sitting due to the fast flow of details regarding positions, units, and dates. For a unit that was committed to 'inherited' and forward-looking positions, it seems to me that the 106th handled itself in a manner beyond reproach, from the generals down to the privates.
My grandfather started the war as a sergeant and ended it as a private because he was trying to save his soldiers' lives. At the end of the day, it wasn't the rank that you came home with that counted; it was that you (and your men) came home at all. The efforts of the 106th in the first few days of the German counteroffensive surely saved so many lives as time was bought for the approaching armored units and the reconstitution of the First and Third Armies.,This book included some details about the actions of my father's particular unit in the Battle of the Bulge. He was in Troop 'B', 18th Cavalry Squadron, of the 14th Cavalrty Group, attached to the 423rd Infantry Regiment of the 106th DInfantry Division. This volume provided details of the location and movements of Troop 'B' that lead up to my father's capture.,The definitive story of the 106th Infantry Division. A wealth of information for anyone searching for information about the people and places involved in one of the greatest battles of the US Army.,Tragic and inspiring. Best book on the subject I've read. Whiting's book is also good, but with a bias to it. Dupuy lays out the story day by day, clearly and honestly.,Enjoyed reading about the 106th!
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