• Music
    • CDs
    • Vinyl
  • Movies
    • DVD
    • Blu-Ray
    • 3D Blu-Ray
    • 4K Ultra HD
  • Video Games
    • XBox 360
    • PS4
    • Playstation 3
    • Wii
    • Xbox One
    • Nintendo 3DS
    • Sony PSV
    • Nintendo Switch
    • Nintendo DS
    • Wii U
    • Retro/Classic
  • Books
    • Children's
    • Fiction
    • Graphic Novels
    • Nonfiction
    • Young Adult
    • Coloring Books
    • Audio Books
  • Gifts
  • Gaming
    • Gaming Cards
    • Board Games & Books
  • Gift Cards
  • Specials
    • Record Store Day 2018
  • About
    • Contact us
    • My Account
    • Locations/Hours
    • FAQs
    • Newsletter Signup
    • Points
    • Employment
    • Community Involvement
    • Gift Cards
    • Privacy Policy
    • Newsletter
  • Menu
    • Music
      • CDs
      • Vinyl
    • Movies
      • DVD
      • Blu-Ray
      • 3D Blu-Ray
      • 4K Ultra HD
    • Video Games
      • XBox 360
      • PS4
      • Playstation 3
      • Wii
      • Xbox One
      • Nintendo 3DS
      • Sony PSV
      • Nintendo Switch
      • Nintendo DS
      • Wii U
      • Retro/Classic
    • Books
      • Children's
      • Fiction
      • Graphic Novels
      • Nonfiction
      • Young Adult
      • Coloring Books
      • Audio Books
    • Gifts
    • Gaming
      • Gaming Cards
      • Board Games & Books
    • Gift Cards
    • Specials
      • Record Store Day 2018
  • About
    • Contact us
    • My Account
    • Locations/Hours
    • FAQs
    • Newsletter Signup
    • Points
    • Employment
    • Community Involvement
    • Gift Cards
    • Privacy Policy
    • Newsletter
  • Menu
    • Music
      • CDs
      • Vinyl
    • Movies
      • DVD
      • Blu-Ray
      • 3D Blu-Ray
      • 4K Ultra HD
    • Video Games
      • XBox 360
      • PS4
      • Playstation 3
      • Wii
      • Xbox One
      • Nintendo 3DS
      • Sony PSV
      • Nintendo Switch
      • Nintendo DS
      • Wii U
      • Retro/Classic
    • Books
      • Children's
      • Fiction
      • Graphic Novels
      • Nonfiction
      • Young Adult
      • Coloring Books
      • Audio Books
    • Gifts
    • Gaming
      • Gaming Cards
      • Board Games & Books
    • Gift Cards
    • Specials
      • Record Store Day 2018
    • About
      • Contact us
      • My Account
      • Locations/Hours
      • FAQs
      • Newsletter Signup
      • Points
      • Employment
      • Community Involvement
      • Gift Cards
      • Privacy Policy
      • Newsletter
Specials
Record Store Day 2018


























Books  >>  Biography

Thomas H. Taylor

Behind Hitler's Lines

Thomas H. Taylor Behind Hitler's Lines The True Story Of The Only Soldier To Fight For B
$7.99 New
 
Out of stock. Should ship within 1 to 3 weeks.

Add To Basket
 




Country of final manufacture:

US

Excerpt from book:

CHAPTER ONE

THE EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

in the summer of 1943 u-boats took a heavy toll of allied shipping, so the 101st Airborne Division would be in peril and out of their element while crossing the Atlantic, but at least the enlisted men now knew their destination: northern Europe, to open a second front against Nazi Germany. That basic mission had been concealed till they reached Camp Shanks, thirty miles upriver from New York City, the division’s staging area for embarkation. They’d had to remove the Screaming Eagle shoulder patch and wear regular GI shoes instead of the distinctive paratrooper jump boots, their pride and talisman. An officer tried to explain the reason: “The Axis has to be kept guessing.”

German spies were thought to have infested New York City, and it was a strategic secret that the 101st would be committed against Hitler rather than Hirohito. Initial betting had been otherwise. It had been the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor; Germany declared war on the United States four days later, the only time in World War II they bothered with such a formality.

The stay at Camp Shanks was only long enough for inoculations and inspections before it was time to go, time for “the arsenal of democracy,” as Churchill called America, to push another seven thousand soldiers across the sea to join the Allied counteroffensive that had already reconquered North Africa and knocked Mussolini’s Italy out of the war. Feeling like lemmings, Screaming Eagles jammed onto Hudson River ferries, which converged on a pair of troopships at Manhattan’s piers. At one was the great French liner the Normandie, gutted and blackened by fire. The name meant nothing to most paratroopers, for they’d yet to learn where Normandy was.

Awaiting Joe Beyrle was the HMS Samaria, decrepit and sooty, hardly resembling the cruise ship she had been for the Cunard line. His squad, within an endless walking serpentine, shouldered ponderous duffel bags as they staggered up the gangplank, then descended to search for space below the waterline. They would sleep there in eight-hour, “hot hammock” shifts, as the number of soldiers embarking was more than twice the capacity of the ship. They were accustomed to the tubular constriction of an airplane, but the Samaria’s massive gray perpendiculars were alien and intimidating. Soon they returned to deck, uncharacteristically subdued, some mumbling about the previous night’s send-off by New York girls when they had been allowed a last pass to the city, but for most it was time to just lean on the rail, look down on dockside, take it all in, and think.

Joe thought mostly about the last year, how he had come so far from Muskegon, the pleasant town of his childhood on the east shore of Lake Michigan. From Kalamazoo’s induction center the army had swept Joe away to Georgia, eventually to march him across the state like one of General Sherman’s infantrymen. He was an infantryman, a bullet launcher, but also trained as a radio operator with a subspecialty in demolitions. He spent a few weeks in Panama, then moved on to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky for large-scale maneuvers, then back to North Carolina again and finally to bleak Camp Shanks. There had been so much travel and training, so much of the school of the soldier, that homesickness had become a memory like an adolescent disease.

With straining hawsers, a cluster of small tugs gathered around the Samaria to tow her from the pier. On the waterfront men in suits stopped to watch a ritual that over the previous year had been so often repeated but was never routine, that of soldiers crammed afloat setting off to war, an army going to sea. Some civilians waved slowly with their hats, igniting a response on board. Under steam, the Samaria made way by the Statue of Liberty, passing a ferry whose deck began to undulate with waving passengers, a further sign that the USA was behind them in support, as it soon would be in distance.

With Sandy Hook still abeam, the troopers were issued life vests to be worn at all times except in hammocks. It was also time to go below; no cigarettes were allowed on deck as a total blackout went into effect while the ship’s engines slowly thumped en route to join a convoy forming off Long Island. Dusk settled into a darkly rising mist as if America were receding into the past.

The past was the civilian world, what it had been for soldiers who were wrested from it, what it had made of them. In June 1942 Joe graduated from Saint Joseph High School with twelve other seniors, who voted him Best Informed, Most Obvious Temper, Class Shark, and Best Dressed. That last title may have been awarded by sarcasm because he owned but one threadbare suit and was color-blind, likely to wear mismatched socks unless his mother noticed. Fortunately she did before the graduation prom held at the Muskegon Women’s Club, chaperoned by nuns. Music was on records, nothing but waltzes and two-steps—jitterbugging was considered too controversial for a Catholic-school dance.

A shark meant an opportunist, and Joe was that. In the Depression, opportunity for him included sweeping out a barbershop for pocket change or fighting for choice discards from a grocery store. Such rummaging became his talent after “standing in line with my brothers, for nine family members, waiting to receive surplus government handouts. At the age of twelve that hit me like a blacksmith’s hammer.”

From then on opportunity meant an escape from ignominy. That’s what the army provided him more than anything else.

As smokers left the Samaria’s decks there was enough room for Joe and his two best buddies, Jack Bray and Orv Vanderpool, to wedge together on the rail, their life vests pressing one another like adjoining cocoons. No doubt there was something Sergeant Duber wanted them to do, but he would have to find them in the darkness among unidentifiable pods of whispering troopers. Vanderpool, a laconic Californian, kept glancing over his shoulder, while Bray had to be muted lest Duber detect his Cajun accent. He was nostalgic, most immediately for last night in New York, secondly for his hometown of New Orleans. It seemed probable now that the 101st would be visiting France, where Bray looked forward to using his French connection.

Soon troopers from the “first seating”—a euphemism from the Samaria’s cruise-ship history—surged on deck grumbling and still hungry after their first meal of fish that tasted like it had been pickled during World War I. What went with the fish smelled worse; the oily stench so pervaded the ship’s interior that the first seating brought their blankets on deck. Advice for the second seating was break out your K rations, as those tasteless bricks would be the best food for the next couple of weeks.

The first week at sea was one of sullen nervousness, with officers seething against the inability to exercise, except for calisthenics, and train, except for target practice at crates thrown overboard. They saw their men as Olympic athletes at the peak of fitness, losing their edge during the listless transit to venue. Preparation for combat had emphasized how scattered they would be after their parachutes drifted apart; now the troopers were suffocatingly crammed together. There had been a cadence chant when they’d run in formation back at Fort Bragg: “GI beans and GI gravy. Gee, I wish I’d joined the navy.” No such envy anymore.

Nevertheless, the 101st was in the war now while not yet into it. U-boat alerts put the convoy into zigzagging maneuvers. Day and night, like overworked sheepdogs, destroyers wove


Connect With Us