|CASEMATE - D-Day With The Screaming Eagles|
An extraordinary account of D-Day with the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles....
D-Day With The Screaming Eagles
Publisher: Casemate Publishing
Paperback, 366 pages,
Many professional historians have recorded the actions of D-Day but here is an account of the airborne actions as described by the actual men themselves in eyewitness detail. Participants range from division command personnel to regimental, battalion, company and battery commanders to chaplains, surgeons, enlisted medics, platoon sergeants, squad leaders and the rough, tough troopers who adapted quickly to fighting in mixed, unfamiliar groups after a badly scattered drop – and yet managed to gain the objectives set for them in the hedgerow country of Normandy.
This is an unusually composed title, in that it ostensibly consists of a collection of anecdotes recalled by the soldiers and civilians that were actually present during the airborne invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Having thought about it a little, and read other titles in the past composed using a similar methodology, I wasn't expecting such a thoroughly engrossing, and readable account of the events of that period.
George Koskimaki, the author of the title, who was actually serving with the 101st Airborne during these events, has done a remarkable job of editing in that the result reads more like a novel than a series of anecdotes, which essentially it remains. I couldn't put it down. As the blurb says, Komisaki drew on the personal experiences of over five hundred individuals, and has correlated these accounts, to compile a timeline of events to make an exciting narrative of the Airborne landings.
The work that has gone into sorting through all those personal accounts, and trying to correlate them, and arrange them into a timeline of events, given the time period involved, and the large area over which the men found themselves after jumping, was not made any easier by the fact that all of these men at the time of compiling this title, had long since returned to normal civilian life...the ones that had survived anyway. Such a collection would be impossible to compile now, this title originally being published in 1970 just twenty-five years after the events it describes. To those of us of er...a certain age...twenty-five years isn't that long, and therefore most of the accounts would still be accurate at that stage.
The title begins at the very beginning with the troops in the marshalling areas back in England prior to D-Day, and progresses through the events of the day as experienced by the men themselves. Perhaps at odd with what you would expect, there are many moments of humour related in the title, from the odd effects of the Dramamine pills that each Paratrooper had been given prior to take off, which led to many falling asleep in the most unusual circumstances, to the tales of men mistakenly attacking herds of grazing cows in the darkness. There is of course, the other side of the coin too...with heart rending tales of civilians being caught in the thick of the action and men never to return home.
Some of the characters mentioned will be familiar to many readers, including personal accounts from men of Easy Company like Dick Winters and Bill Guarnere, to be made more famous in Band of Brothers some thirty years after this title was compiled.
I've tried to describe above just how 'readable' for want of a better term, this title is. I've read many Unit History's that can be a bit 'dry'. Long list's of actions, tables of allocations, etc. This is most certainly not of that type. It's simply put, a cracking good read. It's easy to follow, mainly because of the efforts George Koskimaki made in organising these accounts into a logical progression. As a result of this, we are offered an account of the events of the day from the men that were actually there. Not an account of what some historian deems to be the 'important' bits, but what those men that were there deem to be important. The extraordinary actions, the sadness, the humour, the loss....and what they gained as a result of being there. Highly recommended.
My thanks to CASEMATE PUBLISHING for the review sample.