Author: Gid B. III Adkisson
Publisher: GBA Books (2013)
Binding: Paperback, 196 pages
I have always been a student of history and have read many books on the wars of the 20th century to include WWII, Korea and Vietnam. There are many ways of conveying the histories of these wars such as the works of the big picture such as Masters And Commanders by Andrew Roberts, The Six Volume Set of the Second World War by Winston Churchill or the three book trilogy of The Third Reich at War by Robert Evans which gives a comprehensive and detailed account.
Quite on the other side of the spectrum are the writings of personal memoirs which give a detailed sketch of what it was like as an individual soldier in a combat setting. Such books as Black Edelweiss by Johann Voss and Blood Red Snow by Gunter K. Koschorrek and The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer will tell the individual tales of combat and family background of common soldiers and field junior officers.
With Mr. Gid B. Adkisson III convincing his father to bear all and tell a coherent story for all to hear as we see another bit of history unfold in a very well written book. We learn of Gid Adkisson Jr.’s background and just how he ended up commanding troops from 1944 to 1945 with the 80th Division. His descriptions of virgin troops being molded into veteran troops are well told. His development as a leader and officer makes the reader to continue to turn the pages to see what will happen next.
Adkisson Jr. gives respect not only to his own men but also to the enemy when he tells several stories of the fact that the enemy was very much like himself and his men. One such incident is told in the book below:
From Pages 123 and 124
He slammed on the brakes, grabbed his rifle, sprinted to the nearest artillery crater, and jumped in. He ducked down below the edge of the crater as the damp dirt settled from the first round and was startled to find that someone else had also taken refuge there. It was a German soldier, who was also armed and was just as startled as Justin.
Each instinctively pointed his rifle at each other and waited. Either man could have ended the other’s life in an instant, but neither could have anticipated what would happen next.
Baca broke the tense silence. “You people are losing the war. Why don’t you lay down your rifle and become my prisoner?”
“I know that we are losing,” the young man replied, “but I am a German soldier, and I will fight to the death.”
“What good is it to die for a losing cause?”
“My orders are to fight until the end, and that is what I intend to do.”
These two young men, neither of whom had yet seen his twentieth birthday, negotiated over this life-altering decision while ducking and wincing as the incoming rounds exploded around them.
The barrage ended. They glared at each other in silence. They were at an impasse. Each quietly resigned himself to the fact that each other was not going to relent. At the same time, neither man was inclined to elevate the level of antagonism; part of their unspoken agreement was that they would, in the middle of a brutal war, part in peace. It was a poignant moment, the stuff of movies. Finally, Justin swung around, stood up, scampered out of the crater to his jeep and drove away. Fearing reprimand, he never told anyone in his unit of this experience until years later, at one of our reunions.
This book has many other such stories and will indeed spur the reader on and in the end will leave the reader wanting more. Great memoir!
Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)
Gid B. Adkisson, Jr., was one of eight million American men swept into the U.S. Army during the turbulence that was World War II. An earnest West Texas farm boy attending Texas A&M, Gid Jr. found himself vying for a lieutenant's commission a full year before he was scheduled to graduate, and fighting in France, Luxembourg, and Germany as an infantry company officer between August 1944 and the end of the war. The book chronicles his combat experiences plus those of ten of the men who served with him. He was recuperating from his third combat wound when peace finally settled on Europe. The book closes with reflections on how the war impacted his life.