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Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen: The World War II Story of Jack Womer_Ranger and Paratrooper Hardcover – May 18, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Womer is a World War II veteran of high distinction. Jack was drafted into the 29th Infantry Division in April of 1941, and sent to Europe in October of 1942. Jack volunteered for the 29th Ranger Battalion, undertook training by British Commandos, and was among the relatively few men who met the extensive and rigorous requirements for becoming a Ranger. After the 29th Rangers disbanded in October of 1943, Jack volunteered to become a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division and, in January, 1944, was assigned to the Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s Demolitions Platoon, in the section known infamously as the“Filthy Thirteen”. He fought with the Filthy Thirteen in the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day), the Battle for Holland, and the Battle of the Bulge. Arguably the Filthy Thirteen's best soldier, Jack credits his not being injured and surviving the war to his Ranger training and God. Jack was eventually made buck sergeant of the Filthy Thirteen, a position which he held until the end of the war.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Casemate; 1St Edition edition (May 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612001009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612001005
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John E. Larsen on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Womer was drafted prior to America's entry to the war. He was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division and went to England with it in 1942. While there, he volunteered for, and passed, the grueling training to become a Ranger with the 29th Provisional Ranger Battalion. Upon the disbandment of this unit, Womer gained entry to the 101st Airborne Division. He became a demolitionist with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and fought in Normandy, Holland, the Ardennes and Germany.

Womer is certainly in combat. His description of the flight and jump into Normandy is compelling. So too is the confusion on the ground. Units are terribly mixed up and operating in unfamiliar territory in the dark led to many costly clashes with the Germans. Womer's exploits are quite extraordinary and he puts his survival down to his intense Ranger training at the hands of battle-hardened British Commandoes. Strangely, the level of description here is not repeated for the latter battle of Carentan, or for the campaigns that followed. Womer does write of those battles and personal stories are certainly provided but not to the same level. The awful cost and nature of war is very evident though. Womer is toughened by it too.

The book's title makes reference to the Filthy Thirteen, which was a section in the 506th's demolition platoon. Their job was to operate specialist equipment like flame-throwers and also to use explosives to attack and clear enemy emplacements. Being part of the 506th's HQ, they were assigned to the regiments battalions as needed. The Filthy Thirteen was notorious for its hard living and fighting (and non-bathing) ways and was apparently an inspiration for the film the Dirty Dozen.
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Format: Hardcover
Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen is a very readable and captivating first person account of the WWII combat experience of Jack Womer, a young gritty Baltimore steelworker who went off to fight the Third Reich. Steven DeVito does a masterful job of presenting Jack's narrative as member of the 101st Airborne, especially his riveting recounting of Jack's pre-dawn D-Day jump behind enemy lines. Its format and short chapters make this book ideal for you who read in bed, as the stopping points are close enough together to keep you from dozing off with an open book in your face. If you have the slightest fascination with WWII, you'll like reading Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen, and if you're a WWII buff, it's a must read.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
I listened to the audiobook narrated by John Allen Nelson and will talk about that more specifically at the end of this review.

4 stars.

Jack Womer was drafted into the army in his mid-twenties and after going through hellish training with British Commandos he qualified as a ranger. As soon as he qualified however, the outfit he was in was disbanded! He decided the join the 101st Airborne and after a rather quick succession of qualifying jumps he got his wings and joined the Filthy Thirteen. He fought in all of the major campaigns his outfit was involved in (d-day, Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge), he even had to fight after the war was over!

Jack sees a lot of combat and though he is in the thick of things, he doesn't explicitly describe his own deeds a lot of the time. If anything, this is probably the product of the fact that this was actually written by Stephen Devito based off of extensive interviews and other resources and with Womer's approval. The latter fact I just mentioned doesn't take away from the book at all, though. I, like a few other reviewers, usually rate these books with an emphasis on the personal revelations on combat and their own roles in the mist of the fighting detailed by the author and thus the 4/5 star rating.

The highlight of the book is Jack's experiences in his 4 years as a part of the military. His exploits and anecdotes are so wide ranging and a lot of times they are a lot of fun! This is definitely one of the few memoirs where I found myself laughing out loud!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author of this book ends it in a most curious way. He tells us the reason he wrote this book is so future generations will not forget his generation.

I don’t think he should worry about any of us forgetting him or his generation. His book is the kind that will be read a hundred years from now because it is an uncommonly good read.

The author first starts off in the 29th Infantry Division in a musical. Yes, a musical, but Pearl Harbor ended that recruiting technique.

He then volunteers for extremely dangerous work as an Army Ranger. Sadly the 29th disbanded this highly technical unit before D-Day. The author volunteered for the 101st Airborne.

Ironically, a non-drinking man who does not smoke, is attached to the demolition unit known as The Filthy Thirteen. He was the only man in his unit who didn’t shave his hair into a Mohawk and paint himself like an “Indian” before the assault on Normandy.

His descriptions of his actions in Normandy are excellent as are his descriptions of every other battle the 101st experienced in the war.
In particularly I enjoyed reading about how he used his training as a Ranger to rescue a large number of paratroopers who landed in a swampy area of Normandy. Many readers may not know the Germans flooded the region in hopes of slowing down vehicles and killing paratroopers.

I truly enjoyed this book. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know. And even had a laugh when the author described how he parachuted with a flame thrower during a training exercise. He never carried one in combat but had a lot of fun with in training.

However, if you want to learn more about paratroopers in World War Two, I would strongly suggest reading the entire four book series written by Don Burgett.
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