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Company Commander (1947)

af Charles B. MacDonald

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Forfatteren deltog som 20 årig kompagnichef i den amerikanske hær i 2.Verdenskrig i kompagnierne I og G, 23. Infanteriregiment.. Biblioteket har den danske oversættelse "Kompagnichef gennem Europa 1944-45".. Ardennerne; Rhinen; Soldaterliv; Krigserfaringer; Kampmoral; Ledelse; Uddannelse; Kammeratskab; Frontliv; Kompagnichef; Føring; Fællesskab; Kampånd; Korpsånd; Disciplin; Taktiske niveau; Kompagni niveau; Allierede; Ilddåb; 23.INFREG(US); 2.INFDIV(US); 1.ARMY(US).… (mere)
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MacDonald was a |Captain in the US Army. His outfits were Companies I and G of the 23d Infantry which he joined in September 1944 as replacement. He was green having never experienced combat. Fearing the men he led would be suspicious of his abilities, he held self-doubted his leadership ability. But his caring for his men and his lack of fear at the front soon made him a popular officer. He led his units across France, Belgium, Germany and ended the war in Czechoslovakia.

He includes such tremendous detail in his narrative that more than once I checked to see that I wasn't reading a novel. He includes the names of men who he spoke to, who were wounded, who were killed plus the names of German officers he met near the end of the war and even women he danced with in the celebrations in the Czech Republic when the war ended. Once in a while when his narrative may leave you wondering what happened to some one, he adds in italics what he found out years later or information someone who read the first edition of the book told him later.

This is a great read if you wish to know what it was like to be a basic infantry soldier fighting your way across Europe in 1944-45. One caution about the text is that German soldiers were often cited as killers of prisoners or wounded soldiers. While MacDonald never admits to actually seeing American GI's performing the same atrocities, he definitely never leaves you in doubt that some prisoners sent to the rear never made it there. As well, German wounded were frequently left to die if it was inconvenient to care for them. ( )
  lamour | Oct 4, 2018 |
The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II. MacDonald's first combat was war at its most hellish--the Battle of the Bulge. ( )
Flere brugere har rapporteret denne anmeldelse som misbrug af betingelserne for brug. Det er derfor fjernet (vis).
  Tutter | Feb 22, 2015 |
Apt portrayal of the mental and physical stress of war at the individual and unit command level. Those of us who have never experienced such can only marvel at the strength and commitment of those who did. ( )
  jamespurcell | May 18, 2014 |
Classic account of lower level command in combat in WWII. ( )
  SPQR2755 | Nov 29, 2013 |
This was written shortly after the end of the war. The author went on to become a military historian and his experiences as a company commander parallel those of Winters in Band of Brothers. This is not for the faint-hearted and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent - or the dead. His men are revealed with all their flaws. As the author says in his preface: "to make a story of a war authentic you must see war--not a hasty taste of war but the dread, gnawing diet of war, the horrors and the fears that are at first blunt testimony that you are a novice and then later become so much a part of you that only another veteran, through some sixth sense, may know that those same horrors and fears are yet there."

The introduction provides some context. "An infantry regiment with on-paper strength of a little more than 3,000 might lose over twice that many in less than a year of combat." The author of the introduction suggests that "such casualty rates played havoc with the concept of 'Band of Brothers' . . .An infantry company's makeup was constantly changing." Wounded being sent back to the front rarely were returned to their original outfits. Casualty rates among the infantry -- note that Winters was airborne -- were staggering. They suffered "more than 90% of the casualties in Europe."

Marshall's "ninety-division gamble," an attempt to keep the army as small as possible -- something I had no clue about -- is so reminiscent of Rumsfeld's similar attempt with its consequent disaster in Iraq. Marshall's reasoning was to apply as much resource as possble to war production and air and naval power. Plus ca change.......

This is the unvarnished memoir of combat. Sometimes retreats occur against orders. Often superior officers flee the battlefield, then write each other up for medals. Fear is omnipresent, atrocities happen, hot showers become more than luxeries.

He dreaded sending out patrols at night to collect information they had already reported to headquarters just so the rear brass could type up more reports. He and his men have little respect for the higher ranks. "It seemed that since we were now in a 'quiet' position that every officer in the division with the rank of major or above wanted to inspect the company area. The condemned the men for not having shaved or for wearing knit wool caps without their helmets, evidently an unpardonable misdemeanor, or for untidy areas around the dugouts. The officers did not inspect my 1st Platoon area, [stationed farthest foward and subjected to random shelling:] however, usually passing it over with the excuse it was too far to walk, but we laughed inwardly, knowing it was the threat of enemy shelling that kept most of them away."

MacDonald was thrown into combat as a captain replacement officer with little or no combat experience. He was assigned company I, a group that swore action followed them around. As soon as they were pulled from a an intense sector, it quieted down. When they were assigned to a previously quiet area, the Germans would attack with a bayonet charge or something smilar.

Following several months in relatively static defensive positions, his company is quickly rounded up and sent to back up the 99th Inf. Division that had been counterattacked and mauled after they had attempted to take some dams to prevent their destruction. MacDonald's account of moving to the front in snow, setting up his men with not enough ammunition, the chaos and opacity of battle is simply amazing. ' "Which way's the enemy?" I asked [of the colonel:]" "I dunno. [he replied:] Nobody seems to know a goddamned thing. They say it's that way," and he motioned with one arm to the east.'

The small military horizon of the company commander was striking. They maintained closest contact with companies on their flanks; some with Battalion, very little with Division, Corps is almost unimportant. Maps and map reading ability was crucial. The British had been given responsibility for mapping Europe; they were forced to use mostly WW I maps, but updated them with aerial reconnaissance whenever possible. The aerial map readers provided some astonishing information. They could recognize defensive positions by noticing darker grass. Dew would fall off barbed wire nourishing the grass underneath the wire more effectively hence making it more visible from the air.

What's amazing to me is how well MacDonald did with his men, perhaps a tribute to the training he had received. The story is recounted in such a matter-of-fact way, that the day-to-day horrors somehow become that much more memorable for their ordinariness.

Note: a really nice foldout map accompanies the History Book Club edition. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Forfatteren deltog som 20 årig kompagnichef i den amerikanske hær i 2.Verdenskrig i kompagnierne I og G, 23. Infanteriregiment.. Biblioteket har den danske oversættelse "Kompagnichef gennem Europa 1944-45".. Ardennerne; Rhinen; Soldaterliv; Krigserfaringer; Kampmoral; Ledelse; Uddannelse; Kammeratskab; Frontliv; Kompagnichef; Føring; Fællesskab; Kampånd; Korpsånd; Disciplin; Taktiske niveau; Kompagni niveau; Allierede; Ilddåb; 23.INFREG(US); 2.INFDIV(US); 1.ARMY(US).

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