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WAR STORIES by BART HAGERMAN is a worthy addition to the literature of World War II. The 17th Airborne Division (Thunder from Heaven) was one of the least known, best trained, and most decorated of the American Airborne divisions. Its fame was overshadowed by the press and Hollywood coverage of the great 101st and 82nd divisions...and the fact that the 17th made one of the bloodiest and successful Airborne assaults so close to the end of the war. And yet members of this unit won more (four) Confessionals Medals of Honor than any other American Airborne units. The 17th was thrust into the Battle of the Bulge shortly after Christmas 1944. The weather was the worst in decades. The 17th and held off Hitler's best existing Panzer units with little more than the individual troopers could carry into battle. Many of the unit's personnel were not equipped for the sub-freezing weather. Much of their supplies were sitting on the docks in Boston. The 17th lost a lot of men...some blame General George Patton who treated highly trained special troops as regular infantry. Some units of the 17th were practically wiped out and at least one Glider Infantry unit ceased to exist...there were so few survivors at the close of fighting in the Bulge. Following the Bulge the 17th returned to France to get ready for the largest Airborne operation of the War. Operation Varsity was composed of the American 17th and the British 6th Airborne Divisions(the latter included the Canadian 1st Parachute Regiment). This operation took place in broad daylight. The air armada of troopers crossed the Rhine into the German Fatherland and dropped on top of 80,000 Germans who were expecting them. This book contains a collection of personal stories from gutsy guys from a great unit that should have become a household name.Read more ›
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