Island Victory: The Battle of Kwajalein Atoll


S.L.A. Marshall - 1982
     This was the first time the Americans had penetrated the “outer ring” of the Japanese Pacific sphere. From now until the end of the war the combined forces of the Navy, Marine Corps and Army would island hop their way to the Japanese mainland. Yet, the Battle of Kwajalein Atoll, particularly on the island of Roi-Namur where there were only 51 survivors of the original 3,500 garrison left, gave the Americans an insight into the fierce resistance that the Japanese would put up over the remaining months of the war. Drawn directly from the testimonies of several hundred infantrymen, Island Victory provides insight into what it was like to feel the heat of battle on the beaches of those Pacific islands. "Written accounts of war simply do not get any closer to the actions and feelings of those [who] were there. Island Victory is a highly recommended, 'must read' book." — The Midwest Book Review "The real value of Island Victory lies in the unadorned words of these soldiers, recorded so openly and methodically by Marshall after the battle. . . . The Kwajalein victors interviewed so painstakingly by Sam Marshall provide a priceless candor and authenticity, the emotional testimonies of young men still flushed with adrenalin, guilt, and relief." — Joseph H. Alexander, Journal of Military History S. L. A. Marshall was a chief U.S. Army combat historian during World War II and the Korean War. He had served on the border with Mexico during the Pancho Villa Expedition before serving in France during World War I. He wrote over thirty books about warfare. Island Victory was first published in 1944. Marshall passed away in 1977.

The Fighting 30th Division: They Called Them Roosevelt's SS


Martin King - 2015
    In World War II it spent more consecutive days in combat than almost any other outfit. Recruited mainly from the Carolinas and Georgia and Tennessee, they were one of the hardest-fighting units the U.S. ever fielded in Europe. What was it about these men that made them so indomitable? They were tough and resilient for a start, but this division had something else. They possessed intrinsic zeal to engage the enemy that often left their adversaries in awe. Their U.S. Army nickname was the “Old Hickory” Division. But after encountering them on the battlefield, the Germans themselves came to call them “Roosevelt’s SS.”This book is a combat chronicle of this illustrious division that takes the reader right to the heart of the fighting through the eyes of those who were actually there. It goes from the hedgerows of Normandy to the 30th’s gallant stand against panzers at Mortain, to the brutal slugs around Aachen and the Westwall, and then to the Battle of the Bulge. Each chapter is meticulously researched and assembled with accurate timelines and after-action reports. The last remaining veterans of the 30th Division and attached units who saw the action firsthand relate their remarkable experiences here for the first, and probably the last time. This is precisely what military historians mean when they write about “fighting spirit.” There have been only a few books written about the 30th Division and none contained direct interviews with the veterans. This work follows their story from Normandy to the final victory in Germany, packed with previously untold accounts from the survivors. These are the men whose incredible stories epitomize what it was to be a GI in one of the toughest divisions in WWII.

Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa


Joseph H. Alexander - 2015
    Smith and his principal staff officers of the 2d Marine Division, Vice Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commanding the Central Pacific Force, flew to New Zealand from Pearl Harbor. Spruance told the Marines to prepare for an amphibious assault against Japanese positions in the Gilbert Islands in November. The Marines knew about the Gilberts. The 2d Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson had attacked Makin Atoll a year earlier. Subsequent intelligence reports warned that the Japanese had fortified Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll, where elite forces guarded a new bomber strip. Spruance said Betio would be the prime target for the 2d Marine Division. General Smith's operations officer, Lieutenant Colonel David M. Shoup, studied the primitive chart of Betio and saw that the tiny island was surrounded by a barrier reef. Shoup asked Spruance if any of the Navy's experimental, shallow-draft, plastic boats could be provided. "Not available," replied the admiral, "expect only the usual wooden landing craft." Shoup frowned. General Smith could sense that Shoup's gifted mind was already formulating a plan. The results of that plan were momentous. The Tarawa operation became a tactical watershed: the first, large-scale test of American amphibious doctrine against a strongly fortified beachhead. The Marine assault on Betio was particularly bloody. Ten days after the assault, Time magazine published the first of many post-battle analyses: Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bon Homme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was "Tarawa."

The Bloody Battle of Suribachi: The Amazing Story of Iwo Jima That Inspired Flags of Our Fathers


Richard Wheeler - 1965
    Revised with a new introduction by the author and recently discovered photos, this book served as invaluable source material both for James Bradley’s bestseller Flags of Our Fathers as well as Clint Eastwood’s acclaimed film of the same name.

Stay the Rising Sun: The True Story of USS Lexington, Her Valiant Crew, and Changing the Course of World War II


Phil Keith - 2015
    Another carrier was nearly ready for launch when the news arrived, so the navy changed her name to Lexington, confusing the Japanese.The men of the original "Lady Lex" loved their ship and fought hard to protect her. They were also seeking revenge for the losses sustained at Pearl Harbor. Crippling attacks by the Japanese left her on fire and dead in the water. A remarkable 90 percent of the crew made it off the burning decks before Lexington had to be abandoned. In all the annals of the Second World War, there is hardly a battle story more compelling.Lexington's legacy did not end with her demise, however. Although the battle was deemed a tactical success for the Japanese, it turned out to be a strategic loss: For the first time in the war, a Japanese invasion force was forced to retreat.The lessons learned by losing the Lexington at Coral Sea impacted tactics, air wing operations, damage control, and ship construction. Altogether, they forged a critical, positive turning point in the war. The ship that ushered in and gave birth to a new era in naval warfare might be gone, but fate decreed that her important legacy would live on.

The Last Zero Fighter: Firsthand Accounts from WWII Japanese Naval Pilots


Dan King - 2012
    All are veterans of the pivotal battles of the Pacific War including; the sinking of the USS Panay, Nanking, Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, Rabaul, Port Darwin, the Indian Ocean Raid, Ceylon, Midway, Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the advent of the Kamikaze in the Philippines, the home defense, and the dropping of the atomic bomb. Approximately, 78 photos are included (many from the veterans' own albums), in addition to 9 original maps and illustrations. The book also includes an introduction to the Japanese pilot training system for both officers and enlisted men. Each pilot is followed from the time he joined the Imperial Japanese Navy until war's end. They explain in their own words why they joined the navy, what they thought about the war, about the aircraft they flew, how they felt about their friends and their former adversaries. The interviews were conducted in Japanese by the author, who is a linguist and Pacific War historian who spent 10 years living in Japan.

The Third Reich: Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, World War II And The Last German Empire


Frank D. Kennedy - 2015
    This empire dominates western Europe from 800 until 1806, when it is defeated by Napoleon. The Second Reich: All of Germany is united behind Prussia under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, victor of the Franco-Prussian War. Only Germany's defeat in World War I can break the power of the second German empire.What was the Third Reich?In 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany after convincing other members of the Reichstag that the Nazi party was better for the country than their feared rivals, the Communists. Within the year, the President of the German Republic will be dead, and Hitler will declare himself supreme leader of Germany.But how did it happen?The Third Reich: Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, World War II and The Last German Empire takes you on a guided tour of German history for the last thousand years. You'll study the constitution of the Weimar republic and the Treaty of Versailles, and come to understand why Hitler believed it was crucial to build a new Nazi empire that was second to no one other nation in Europe in terms of military development. You'll learn how Hitler used the rhetoric of racism and nationalism to transform himself from a democratically elected member of government into a dictator whose word was law.Most importantly, you'll learn how those changes paved the way to World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Tail-End Charlies: The Last Battles of the Bomber War, 1944--45


John Nichol - 2003
    The airmen of the United States 8th Army Air Force and British Bomber Command were among the greatest heroes of the Second World War, defying Hitler in the darkest early days of the war and taking the battle to the German homeland when no one else would.Toward the end of the conflict, too, they continued to sacrifice their lives to shatter an enemy sworn never to surrender. Blasted out of the sky in an instant or bailing out from burning aircraft to drop helplessly into hostile hands, they would die in their tens of thousands to ensure the enemy's defeat. Especially vulnerable were the "tail-end Charlies"---for the Americans, which meant two things: the gunners who flew countless missions in a plexiglass bubble at the back of the bomber, and the last bomber in the formation who ended up flying through the most hell, and for the British, the rear-gunners who flew operations in a Plexiglas bubble at the back of the bomber.Following their groundbreaking revelations about the ordeals suffered by Allied prisoners of war in their bestselling book, The Last Escape, John Nichol and Tony Rennell tell the astonishing and deeply moving story of the controversial last battles in the skies of Germany through the eyes of the forgotten heroes who fought them."This is the best account that has been written of the heroic American and British bomber crews . . . the best of its kind." ---George McGovern"Rivaling the best of Stephen Ambrose's work, Tail-End Charlies gives a breathtakingly intimate look at the lives, loves, and deaths of the brave airmen of the greatest generation. This fascinating book is as valuable for its stories of joyous life on the ground as it is for its sobering tales of death in the air. You see the whole picture of the war here from the eyes of the strong young men who fought it." ---Walter J. Boyne, bestselling author of Beyond the Wild Blue"Adds new dimensions to the saga of the air war in Europe. The eyewitness accounts, reported within the context of the battle against Nazi Germany, provide a sense of the ordeals, the terror, the gore, and the heroism of ordinary men thrust into the savagery of aerial combat." ---Gerald Astor, author of The Mighty Eighth

The U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima


Raymond Henri - 1945
     Sixty-thousand marines had landed on the barren, volcanic island that was five miles long and two and half miles wide. For five weeks these men would become involved in some of the bloodiest and fiercest fighting of the Second World War. One third of them would end the battle either dead or wounded. The U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima written by five official marine combat writers, who personally saw action on the island, provides vivid insight into the battle that was described as “a nightmare in hell.” Henri and his fellow correspondents provide a step-by-step chronological overview of the battle as it was fought. They begin with an outline of the months of preparation that were undertaken before the first gun was fired before providing details on how the generals and admirals put their plans into action. Every aspect of the conflict is covered by the authors who interviewed many of the frontline troops to gain a sense of what the battle was like witnessed from the marines on the ground. “Among the Americans who served on Iwo, uncommon valor was a common virtue” — Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. “The Japanese, despite heavy losses, offered maximum resistance, but the Marines were established on high ground and the conquest of Iwo Jima was assured.” — Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King. This book is essential reading for all who wish to understand what the U.S. Marines went through in their famous capture of Iwo Jima. The authors of this book are three Marine Corps combat correspondents and two Marine Public Relations Officers who were at Iwo Jima. Combat correspondents are trained like other Marines. They live and fight with the outfits to which they are attached and write articles for newspapers and magazines about the men in their units. In battle they can see only what happens in their own units’ limited sectors. In compiling this book, therefore, they drew upon their own experiences on Iwo plus stories written by other combat correspondents and Public Relations Officers who were there. The authors were Captain Raymond Henri, Public Relations Officer, 3d Marine Division, who passed away in 2015, First Lieutenant Jim G. Lucas, Assistant Public Relations Officer, 4th Marine Division, who passed away in 1971, Technical Sergeant W. Keyes Beech, Combat Correspondent, 5th Marine Division, who passed away in 1990, Technical Sergeant David K. Dempsey, Combat Correspondent, 4th Marine Division who passed away in 1999, and Technical Sergeant Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Combat Correspondent, 3d Marine Division, who passed away in 2005. Their book was first published in 1945.

War Beneath The Sea


Peter Padfield - 1995
    The canvas is broad and deep, from the strategic perspective at the top to the cramped and claustrophobic life of the crews in their submersible steel tubes; from the feats of ‘ace’ commanders to the terrifying experiences of men under attack in this most pitiless form of warfare. Peter Padfield describes the technical and tactical measures by which the Western Allies countered Admiral Karl Dönitz’s U-boat ‘pack’ attacks in the all-important North Atlantic battle; the fanatical zeal with which, even after defeat, Dönitz continued sacrificing his young crews in outmoded boats, dubbed by one veteran ‘iron coffins’; while in the Pacific the superiority of American fleet submarines and radar allowed the U.S. to isolate Japan from her overseas sources of supply. Padfield argues that if this strategic potential had been realised earlier it could have saved thousands of lives in the bloody Pacific island campaigns, and even rendered the use of atomic bombs unnecessary. ‘Peter Padfield is the best British naval historian of his generation…His book…will now become the standard work on the subject.’ John Keegan, The Daily Telegraph‘This looks set to become the definitive work on submarine warfare in the Second World War…’ Paul Hoxton, Military Illustrated‘By far the best and most complete critical history of the submarine operations of all the combatants in the Second World War, at the same time providing vivid narrative accounts of particular actions…’Alan Cameron, Lloyd’s List‘Peter Padfield has written a superb history of a complex and controversial subject. It is a valuable addition to our body of history of World War II, and I recommend it highly.’Vice Admiral James F. Calvert USN Rtd., U.S.N.I Proceedings‘This monument to the submarine arms of the major belligerents tells the story of their triumphs and tragedies and comes from one of our ablest naval historians…’Graham Rhys-Jones, R.U.S.I.Journal‘…the book is very well written and enjoyable to read. The facts and statistics are mixed with well penned character studies and fast-moving descriptive narrative in a way that confirms the author’s stature as a leading military historian…’The Naval Review‘…a near flawless work of history that can be recommended both as a serious study and a compelling read.’The Officer Magazine‘Probably one of the most valuable books ever written on submarine operations and countermeasures for World War II history…in the ‘Bravo’ category.’Canadian Military History Book Review Supplement‘Padfield keeps an unwavering balance between providing the depth of history and maintaining an exciting narrative.’The Times

40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII's Bloodiest Battles


Joseph Tachovsky - 2020
     Now Joseph Tachovsky—whose father Frank was the commanding officer of the 40 Thieves, also called "Tachovsky's Terrors"—joins with award-winning author Cynthia Kraack to transport readers back to the brutal Battle of Saipan. Built on hours of personal interviews with WWII veterans, their personal papers, letters and documentation from the National Archives, 40 Thieves on Saipan is an astonishing portrayal of elite World War II combat. It's also a rare glimpse into the lives of World War II Marines. The poorest equipped branch of the services at that time, Marines were notorious thieves. To improve their odds for victory against the Japanese, they found it necessary to improve their supply chains through “Marine Methods,” stealing. Being the elite of the Sixth Regiment, the Scout-Sniper Platoon excelled at the craft—earning them the nickname of the “40 Thieves” from their envious peers. Upon returning from a 1943 trip to the Pacific theater, Eleanor Roosevelt observed, “The Marines I have met around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marines.”

The Black Sheep: The Definitive History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II


Bruce Gamble - 1998
    The popular television series Baa Baa Black Sheep added to their legend—while obscuring the truly remarkable combat record of the Black Sheep and Boyington. A retired naval flight officer and former historian for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Bruce Gamble provides a highly readable account that serves to both correct and extend the record of this premier fighting force. From the Paperback edition.

D-Days in the Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard


Ken Wiley - 2007
    But what of the sailors who manned the landing craft, going back and forth under fire with nowhere to take cover, their craft the special targets of enemy gunners?In this book, Ken Wiley, a Coast Guardsman on an Attack Transport in the Pacific, relates the intricate, often nerve wracking story of how the United States projected its power across 6,000 miles in the teeth of fanatical Japanese resistance. Each invasion was a swirl of moving parts, from frogmen to fire support, transport mother ships to Attack Transports, the smaller Higgins boats (LCVPs), and during the last terrifying stage the courageous men who would storm the beaches.The author participated in the campaigns for the Marshall Islands, the Marianas the Philippines and Okinawa, and with a precise eye for detail relates numerous aspects of landing craft operations, such as ferrying wounded, that are often discounted. He conveys the terror and horrors of war, as well as, on occasion, the thrill, while not neglecting the humor and cameraderie of wartime life.An exciting book, full of harrowing combat action, Lucky 13 also provides a valuable service in expanding our knowledge of exactly how World War II's massive amphibious operations were undertaken.

Hitler's Children - Spitting Fire (Eyewitness Accounts - 12th SS Panzer 'Hitler Youth' in Normandy 1944)


Sprech Media - 2015
    Who were these 15 to 17 year-old Hitler Youth soldiers, why were they so fanatical, and how could they be cleanly defeated? The Allied mood turned to bitterness and hatred as the brutal cunning and sheer ruthlessness of the boy soldiers and their adult leaders became clear. This book assembles a range of astonishing eyewitness testimony to the ferocious combat between Hitler Youth panzer troops, snipers and infantry against British and Canadian forces after D-Day. There are the disturbing combat experiences of surviving 12th SS Panzer fighters themselves, recorded after the war; eyewitness accounts from Allied soldiers who fought tank-to-tank and hand-to-hand against these opponents in the hedgerows, fields and streets of Normandy; and accounts too from terrified French civilians caught up in the firefights. The accounts featured are: The Tank Destroyer (Jagdpanzer IV) The Bocage Ambush (British Sergeant) The Battle for the Bunkers (12th SS Panthers) The Flail Tanks (French Civilian) The Panzerfaust Fighters (Hitlerjugend Panzergrenadiers) The Sniper (Canadian Captain) The War Crimes (12th SS Panzer Radio Operator) Panthers in the Smoke (British Cromwell Commander) Thunderbolts, Typhoons and Flak (12th Panzer Flak Unit) These are graphic and often shocking accounts of one of the strangest phases of the second world war in the west, and one that left a dreadful mark on so many who were involved in it. Sprech Media is an independent researcher and publisher of eyewitness testimonies to armed conflict in the 20th century.

The Battle for Moscow


David Stahel - 2014
    Army Group Centre was pressed into the attack for one last attempt to break Soviet resistance before the onset of winter. From the German perspective the final drive on Moscow had all the ingredients of a dramatic final battle in the east, which, according to previous accounts, only failed at the gates of Moscow. David Stahel now challenges this well-established narrative by demonstrating that the last German offensive of 1941 was a forlorn effort, undermined by operational weakness and poor logistics, and driven forward by what he identifies as National Socialist military thinking. With unparalleled research from previously undocumented army files and soldiers' letters, Stahel takes a fresh look at the battle for Moscow, which even before the Soviet winter offensive, threatened disaster for Germany's war in the east.