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The Bedford boys : one American town's ultimate D-Day sacrifice / Alex Kershaw.

By: Kershaw, Alex.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, 2003Edition: 1st Da Capo Press pbk. ed.Description: xii, 279 pages, [32] pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0306813556; 9780306813559; 0306811677; 9780306811678.Subject(s): United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 116th | United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 116th | World War (1939-1945) | 1939-1945 | Operation Neptune | Operation Neptune | World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- France -- Normandy | World War, 1939-1945 -- Regimental histories -- United States | World War, 1939-1945 -- Virginia -- Bedford | Military campaigns | Regimental histories | World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Normandy | World War, 1939-1945 -- Virginia | World War, 1939-1945 -- Regimental histories -- United States | Operation Neptune | Bedford (Va.) -- History | France -- Normandy | United States | Virginia -- Bedford | Bedford (Va.) -- HistoryGenre/Form: History.DDC classification: 940.54/2142/0922755675 Online resources: Contributor biographical information | Publisher description
D-Day, H-360 -- Going to War -- Moving Out -- Cruel Seas -- England's Own -- "29, Let's Go!" -- Slapton Sands -- The Sausages -- The Empire Javelin -- The First Wave -- Dog Beach -- "Medic!" -- Every Man Was a Hero -- Bedford's Longest Day -- Bocage -- The Longest Wait -- His Deep Regret -- Coming Home -- Memorial -- The Bedford Boys and D-Day.
Summary: Chronicles the experiences of the young men from Bedford, Virginia, who invaded Normandy's Omaha Beach as part of the first wave of American soldiers who hit the beaches on D-Day.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

June 6, 1944: Nineteen boys from Bedford, Virginia--population just 3,000 in 1944--died in the first bloody minutes of D-Day. They were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, and the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches in Normandy. Later in the campaign, three more boys from this small Virginia town died of gunshot wounds. Twenty-two sons of Bedford lost--it is a story one cannot easily forget and one that the families of Bedford will never forget.

The Bedford Boys is the true and intimate story of these men and the friends and families they left behind. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and relatives, as well as diaries and letters, Kershaw's book focuses on several remarkable individuals and families to tell one of the most poignant stories of World War II--the story of one small American town that went to war and died on Omaha Beach.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 241-242) and index.

D-Day, H-360 -- Going to War -- Moving Out -- Cruel Seas -- England's Own -- "29, Let's Go!" -- Slapton Sands -- The Sausages -- The Empire Javelin -- The First Wave -- Dog Beach -- "Medic!" -- Every Man Was a Hero -- Bedford's Longest Day -- Bocage -- The Longest Wait -- His Deep Regret -- Coming Home -- Memorial -- The Bedford Boys and D-Day.

Chronicles the experiences of the young men from Bedford, Virginia, who invaded Normandy's Omaha Beach as part of the first wave of American soldiers who hit the beaches on D-Day.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  • The Bedford Boys (p. xi)
  • Maps (p. xiii)
  • 1 D-Day, H-360 (p. 1)
  • 2 Going to War (p. 7)
  • 3 Moving Out (p. 23)
  • 4 Cruel Seas (p. 41)
  • 5 England's Own (p. 53)
  • 6 "29, Let's Go!" (p. 67)
  • 7 Slapton Sands (p. 81)
  • 8 The Sausages (p. 93)
  • 9 The Empire Javelin (p. 111)
  • 10 The First Wave (p. 121)
  • 11 Dog Beach (p. 129)
  • 12 "Medic!" (p. 139)
  • 13 Every Man Was a Hero (p. 149)
  • 14 Bedford's Longest Day (p. 165)
  • 15 Bocage (p. 173)
  • 16 The Longest Wait (p. 189)
  • 17 His Deep Regret (p. 197)
  • 18 Coming Home (p. 209)
  • 19 Memorial (p. 225)
  • The Bedford Boys and D-Day (p. 239)
  • Bibliography (p. 241)
  • Notes (p. 243)
  • Index (p. 263)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

During World War II, the American 29th division went by several names, including "The Blues and the Grays" and "England's Own." In the companies of the 116th regiment, the men went by other names as well-brother, cousin, neighbor, and friend. Many of these men came from a National Guard company centered around Bedford, VA, and had joined during the Depression for the money and uniforms; friends and family members often joined together. The 116th was chosen to be the first ashore on Bloody Omaha beach on D-day, and their unit was devastated. Journalist and biographer Kershaw (Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa) follows these young men from the time they joined the National Guard until they met their tragic end. Unlike the authors of other war books, he also highlights the families and hometown these young men left behind. Indeed, the powerful and heart-wrenching final chapters follow the families from D-day until they were given the awful news months later that 21 of their own had died, a loss the town continues to grieve almost 60 years later. Strongly recommended for all public libraries.-Brian K. DeLuca, Avon Lake P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

This accessible and moving group biography portrays the men of Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, who were part of the first wave at Omaha Beach in WWII. Initially, 103 of them left the small town of Bedford, Va.-now the site of the national D-Day memorial-when the local National Guard was called up in 1940; 34 were still with the company on D-Day. Of these, 19 died in a matter of minutes and three more perished in the Normandy campaign. Men lost ranged from the company commander, Captain Taylor N. Fellers, from a wealthy Bedford family, to Frank Draper Jr., a fine athlete and soldier from the wrong side of the tracks. Long-time National Guardsman John Wilkes died as the company's top sergeant, while Earl Parker left behind a daughter he never saw. Both Holback brothers and Ray Stevens died, while Ray's twin Roy Stevens was one of the handful of survivors. Kershaw (Jack London) includes combat sequences that give a vivid private's- eye view of the particular hell that was Omaha Beach, while one of the most moving portions of the book is the simultaneous arrival in Bedford of nine "We regret to inform you..." telegrams. A capsule history of Bedford before the war, its role as part of the home front during it and its current place as (controversial) memorial site are all covered, but the book's central focus is on the town where a good many survivors remain whose memories have not faded and whose emotional wounds have not healed. (May 26) Forecast: With a 75,000-copy first printing, along with author and radio tours, Da Capo is clearly looking for Memorial Day and D-Day (June 6) spikes in sales, but the book is good enough to have a life beyond that, especially with the 60th anniversary of D-Day approaching next year. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

On June 6, 1944, Allied armies launched their massive invasion of Europe--D-Day, in other words. Among the thousands of soldiers headed for France were 34 men from the town of Bedford, Virginia, aboard Empire Javelin, a British troopship. Nineteen of them were killed in the first minutes of combat, when their landing craft dropped them into the water off Normandy. Two more were killed later in the day from gunshot wounds. No other town in the U.S. endured a greater one-day loss. Kershaw's book is more than just another war story; here is an in-depth account of this blue-collar town and its 3,000 people. The soldiers included three sets of brothers, a pool-hall hustler, husbands, farmers, and a couple of "highly successful Lotharios." Kershaw describes in painful detail how the next of kin were notified of the soldiers' deaths via Western Union telegrams and how the news devastated their lives. Drawing on interviews with survivors and relatives, newspaper clippings, letters, and diaries, Kershaw has chronicled one community's great sacrifice. --George Cohen

Kirkus Book Review

By-the-numbers saga of a bruised and bullet-riddled combat unit in WWII. Embracing only some 3,000 inhabitants, the little Blue Ridge town of Bedford, Virginia, offered few jobs for young men in the last years of the Depression. One source of work was the local National Guard detachment, which, writes journalist Kershaw, "was more akin to a social club than a military unit" and paid only a dollar a day. Still, most of the Bedford boys signed up, and when America entered WWII, they were shipped off to fight as part of the unlucky 116th Infantry, which saw hard combat in Europe. The regiment got chewed up at the Normandy landing, losing 375 men--including 19 of the young men from Bedford, bringing untold suffering to the town, now the site of a national D-Day memorial, for years to come. Kershaw does a reasonably good job of detailing the lives and deaths of these unfortunates, and of gathering the recollections of survivors and kin. Still, the enterprise seems a second-tier offering in the face of the Ambrose/Brokaw industry--and one drenched in clumsy sentimentality at that ("it is not so much in Bedford that the spirits of its lost sons are most palpable, but rather a few hundred yards from the beach where they died, in the American cemetery overlooking Omaha"). Though he has his strong moments, Kershaw misses or underplays a couple of big questions about the experience of fighting a war in the company of neighbors--common enough in the Civil War, but not so common in WWII. And in all events, he knows only two moods: a sepia-toned prewar nostalgia in which the young Guardsmen reveled on beaches "where city girls wore revealing woolen bathing costumes and the Bedford boys would sweet-talk them as they jitter-bugged the night away"--and a scarlet breathlessness evoking scenes of detached eyeballs and "a body with legs off, sometimes just a leg, mangled parts." For war buffs who can't get enough of Saving Private Ryan. Copyright ┬ęKirkus Reviews, used with permission.