Aug 28, 2012

How 'Bout Them Reads: The Bedford Boys

The boys of Bedford, Virginia never set out to be heroes. When they joined the National Guard, they were just looking for the extra money and a chance to gather together. They never expected to ever have to go into the regular Army and go to war. The two of Bedford was never expecting what would happen.

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Alex Kershaw tells the story of small town Bedford, Virginia and the men who went to war. All being from the same small town, they were all pulled into Company A of the 59th Division. When American entered the war, the men were trained hard, never knowing like so many others if they would be heading to the Pacific or across the Atlantic. After continuous, hard training in America, they were loaded onto the Queen Mary and shipped across the German U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic. They would be heading to Europe.

They spent even more months in England. They trained more than ever. But what the boys really enjoyed was that they had the run of England. They were treated like heroes wherever they went. Little did they know they were being prepared for the biggest invasion to ever take place. They lived the easy life in England for many months until England began filling up with more soldiers, all preparing for the massive invasion.

The boys of Bedford were excited. They were confident and ready to do their part. They had the drive and willingness to be the first wave that most senior officers knew they would never get from men who had seen combat. Despite the willingness and excitement, there was a lot dread. Many were already predicting that there would be no returning home.

Finally after a day's delay due to weather, Company A loaded into their landing crafts. Brothers planned where they would meet after. Friends bid each other good luck. Then they were off. As the first of the boats approached the beach, they exited without any oncoming fire. The Germans gave them a false sense of hope before starting their deadly machine gun fire. Within the first minutes of D-Day, nineteen boys from Bedford were dead. Many never knowing what hit them. And almost all never having the chance to fire their weapons. Many were injured. Very few walked away without a scratch. And all that did survive were plagued with survivor's guilt and would carry that day with them for the rest of their lives.

The families left behind never expected such losses and some would spend the rest of their lives wondering what had really happened to their loved one. Did he die quickly? Did he suffer? Why were these inexperienced men chosen to lead such an important invasion? Some held out hope because bodies were never discovered. Some were just angry and would stay that way for the rest of their lives. For the men returning, it was hard to walk back into a devastated town and deal with the survivor's guilt.

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This was definitely not a happy read. It was certainly easy to read but not an upbeat book. This town suffered the most losses of any one area. At times it felt like these men were sacrificed and they never had a chance. But at the same time, war is an ugly thing and extreme losses are to be expected. Reading through the book, you could almost hear the sadness in the survivor's voices as they retold what had happened. But just like with all soldiers who had to live or for some who died through the horrors of war, their story deserved to be told.

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