Title: Infantry Soldier: Holding the Line at the Battle of the Bulge
Author: George W. Neill
Published By: Red Rover Books/University of Oklahoma Press
Year Published: 2001
Page Count: 356 (including Notes and Index sections)
Notes: Infantry Soldier tells the story of George W. Neill’s experiences on the Line during the Battle of the Bulge. It’s riveting tale tackles the subject with a clarity and will that the reader is transported to the line, narrowly dodging enemy fire along side the men of the 99th Infantry Division.
Mr. Neill’s experiences are frighteningly real and the deft descriptions of the weather, the holes in which the men fought, lived and died in, and the often callous command decisions of the upper echelons are given a new life.
Infantry Soldier begins when Mr. Neill is in a college ERC (Enlisted Reserve Corps) program and is given orders to report for active duty. From there, the author experiences the often draconian decisions made that affect a soldier’s life in training.
Soon, however, the men of the 99th are sent to hold the line during the Battle of the Bulge. What follows is a frightening retelling of that pivotal battle that marked the end of offensive combat operations for Nazi Germany.
Situated between Monschau and Hofen, the 99th held the line on the northern edge of the Bulge. (The famous town of Bastogne lay to the South where the 101st Airborne made its famous stand).
As strong as the book is, the one detracting point (for me, at least) is the habit Mr. Neill has of breaking the action by inserting facts that apply in later years. As in this example:
After about two hours of traveling, including a wait on a sidetrack, we stepped out into an empty street in a place called Dorchester (population 10,030 in 1944, 14,000 in 1997). (Page 53)
I understand why he wrote in this style, the passing on of information relevant to the modern reader, but it does detract, somewhat from the overall presentation.
Despite this, I hesitate to use the word “flaw,” the book is a solid read and conveys the story quite well. For anyone who is interested in memoirs about war, and World War II in particular, this book is for you.
Grade: Four and a Half Goons out of Five.