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Info on Italian campaign

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The granddaughter of a vet posted this on another forum. She posted this article and stated:

 

"Does anyone know anything about the place mentioned in this bit from an old article? My grandpa doesn't remember for sure.....

post-4-1139319158_thumb.jpg

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This was what was going on in Italy during Oct 1944. I will try and find more specifics for the city indicated...

 

 

Americans advanced out of the Apennines and entered the Po Valley before winter, Axis forces in Italy would be doomed.

 

The third and final phase of the II Corps' assault began on 10 October against the ten-mile-long Livergnano Escarpment, a steep eastwest line of solitary mountain peaks constituting the enemy's strongest

 

natural position in the northern Apennines. The 85th Division led the primary attack against Monte delle Formiche in the center of the escarpment, while the 91st and 88th Divisions maintained pressure on the enemy's flanks. For the first time in a week the weather cleared sufficiently to allow the Fifth Army to effectively use fighter-bombers and medium and heavy bombers of the Mediterranean Allied Tactical and Strategic Air Forces (MATAF and MASAF) against the defending 4th Parachute, 94th, 362d, and 65th Infantry Divisions in a series of air strikes named Operation PANCAKE. In the subsequent heavy ground actions the 85th Division succeeded in taking Monte delle Formiche on 10 October, while the 91st Division outflanked the Livergnano Escarpment from the west, forcing the Axis units in the area to withdraw on 13 October. Here, as elsewhere, however, sustained Axis resistance, American troop exhaustion, rugged terrain, and poor weather halted the II Corps' advance ten miles south of Bologna.

 

Field Marshal Alexander now decided to make another attempt at capturing Ravenna and Bologna using the Fifth and Eighth Armies in concert. Under his plan, Clark's Fifth Army would break out of the Apennines and encircle the Tenth Army from the northwest, while Leese's Eighth Army continued the "battle of the rivers" to the east along the Adriatic. Success appeared problematic, considering the high casualties suffered during prior operations that were similar and the difficulties encountered with supply lines that stretched over rugged terrain, which was adversely affected by wintry weather.

 

21

Meanwhile, across the lines, Kesselring's staff pressed their commander to fall back to the more easily defended Alps. Hitler, however, facing Red Army gains on the Eastern Front and mounting pressures in northwest Europe, was loath to cede any territory voluntarily and ordered Kesselring to hold his current line. The field marshal, fearing to oppose Hitler, complied and placed two units from his reserve, the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier and 94th Infantry Divisions, in front of II Corps, giving the defenders six understrength divisions against four larger, but tired, American ones.

 

The U.S. 34th Division launched the American phase of Alexander's plan by continuing attempts to break through to Bologna on 16 October 1944. The attack was quickly stopped by a combination of rugged terrain and stiff enemy opposition. Then, while the British 13 Corps tied down the 334th, 715th, and 305th Infantry Divisions, U.S. 91st Division units moved forward on II Corps' left flank, supported by the U.S. 1st Armored Division. But again the intensity of the enemy's resistance halted both units. Elsewhere, however, the 85th Division moved ahead, giving the Americans brief cause for optimism, but the II Corps had no reserves to exploit its gains or to reinforce the other stalled units. All hope of effecting a quick breakthrough finally ended when Kesselring began shifting the 29th and 90th Panzer Grenadier Divisions to the threatened front.

 

Undaunted, General Clark ordered another attempt to break the Axis line on 19 October. The German defenses just south of Bologna were anchored, east to west, on Monte Adone, Monte Belmonte, and Monte Grande. The plan called for the II Corps' 85th and 88th Divisions to launch an attack toward Monte Grande with the IV Corps and British 13 Corps providing pressure on the flanks. Simultaneously, the U.S. 91st and 34th Divisions would renew their advance in secondary assaults on Monte Belmonte and Savenna Creek. The attack opened on the night of 19 October in a driving rain after an intense artillery bombardment. The 88th Division captured Monte Grande, but the 34th Division failed to seize Monte Belmonte. Clark, sensing an enemy buildup on II Corps' left flank, decided to attack on the right flank where he believed the German resistance would be weaker. On the night of 22 October, both the 85th and 88th Divisions attacked from Monte Grande, but they were stopped by heavily reinforced German units. On 26 October torrential rains washed out bridges, cutting Fifth Army's already strained and overburdened supply lines. The severed supply lines and high casualty rate prompted General Keyes, the II Corps commander, to order his units to fall back to more easily sustainable positions between Monte Grande and the Monterumici hill mass in the west.

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Here is a MapQuest map of the area. It's southeast of Pisa.

 

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formt...orcoli&zipcode=

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I must add my two cents to the first sentence of the article that says troops

came down off the North Appenines.

If you,(not you Marion), you all, read about the 34th as it came down off

the mountains and what the divn. really did, you will have to read the book

"DOGFACES WHO SMILED THROUGH TEARS", IT'S TO MUCH FOR ME TO

WRITE AND I ALSO GET A LITTLE EMOTIONAL WHEN I START TO THINK

BACK. Sorry about that. Rocky. 1st.Bn. 135th

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Marion,

The history you posted is about the fighting in the mountain during October 1944. On 26 October, the offense was called off and the 88th Division pulled back to a holding position for the winter.

But your MapQuest link located the town of Forcoli much further south near the Arno river between Florence(Firenze) and Pisa. I think you found the right town but something does not add up with the text of the Newspaper clipping. The date is wrong or the town is wrong.

Why? The advance from Rome up to Leghorn/Pisa and Arno River occurred during the summer months of June, July and early August. For a 3-part description of this action, see this webpage on my site.

Pursuit North of Rome

The news article says Sgt. Garrett operated a Tank so he was obviously in the 1st Armored Division---but he might have been in a Tank Destroyer Battalion. Either way, the Apennine Mtns were too rugged for tanks and by October it was much too muddy for tanks to maneuver. If you check my maps in Pursuit North of Rome, you will see that the landscape was flatter and more conducive to Tanks. And the rainy season had not begun in July/August.

I think the date is incorrect in the newspaper article. If we could find the records of his Purple Heart, I bet it would read 17 July 1944.

 

See my map: Advance on Leghorn

 

Just trying to help solve this mystery. I'm surprised you didn't come to me first.

Steve

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Okay, I searched the unit history of the 1st Armored Division and it doesn't have much detail about their action in this area---but they were organized into Task Forces and pushing north towards the Arno River Line.

I have a set of WW2 road maps of Italy. These maps are in 1:200,000 scale and there are 30 maps for all of Italy; I have about half of them.

 

Forcoli is just south of the medium-size town of Pontedera. Pontedera is on Hiway 67 from Pisa to Florence(remember this is WW2 highway identity). There are two roads going south out of Pontedera, the main one goes directly south from the west side of the town then bends back south-east direction. The smaller one proceeds from the east side of town on the east side of the Era River and winds along the river next to a ridge. Forcoli is about 5 miles south of Pontedera on this secondary road.

On MapQuest, this road is marked "Via Delle Coline" that goes thru the town of Val Di Cava before reaching the intersection near Forcoli.

 

Now you know exactly where it is.

 

Steve

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Just trying to help solve this mystery. I'm surprised you didn't come to me first.

Steve

 

Well actually in a way dear I DID come to you first. Since you are in regular attendance here, I knew you would probably see it within a day or so. Knew you WOULD reply and you did. So everyone is happy! :pdt34:

 

As far as things not being probable...

 

Note what the article said, "..manuevered his tank over PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE ground..." (word emphasis mine)

 

It will be interesting to see what transpires, huh?

 

I suggested that she check other newspaper clippings from his home town. Many of those mention the unit. Others have been able to solve the mystery this way too. Also could check the grave marker. Most also have the unit engraved along with the epitath.

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This is from the same gal...

 

Thank you so much for answering my post!

 

My grandpa was with the 757th Tank Battalion. Latey he is have trouble remembering what and who he was attached to. He was in C company. He said something about the British 8th army that he was attached to often. He isn't 100% sure though. He also mentioned a 5th army. I don't know how or if that would help in finding out more about this place.

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This does list the 757th and other major allied units involved in the Italian Campaign. This DOES include your grandfather's unit. Yeah! :pdt34:

 

http://www.milhist.net/ordbat/mtounits.html

 

Here's a contact name for all companies of the 757th Tank Bn:

 

Mr. Warren & Nancy Davis at 1-612-484-8229

 

--------------------

 

More info:

 

This site talks about the 752nd and 757th Tanks Bns:

 

http://www.752ndtank.com/RocketTanks.html

 

---------------------

 

Please see the Red Bull's site (34th Infantry Div). Your grandfather's unit was attached to them.

 

http://www.34infdiv.org/

 

Who Were We?

 

WW II Order of Battle - 34th Infantry Division

Headquarters, 34th Infantry Division

133rd Infantry Regiment

100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) [assigned Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno]

135th Infantry Regiment

168th Infantry Regiment

168th Commandos

442nd Regimental Combat Team [attached Rome-Arno]

442nd Infantry Regiment

100th Infantry Battalion

232nd Engineeer (Combat) Company

442nd Medical Detachment

522nd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

34th Division Artillery

34th Division Artillery Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

125th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

151st Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

175th Field Artillery Battalion (105mm)

185th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)

34th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)

109th Engineer (Combat) Battalion

109th Medical Battalion

34th Division Special Troops

Headquarters, Special Troops, 34th Division

34th Infantry Division Headquarters Company

34th Infantry Division Band

Military Police Platoon, 34th Division

34th Counter-Intelligence Detachment [attached]

34th Quartermaster Company

34th Signal Company

734th Ordnance (Light Maintenance) Company

 

Other Attached Units

 

Jewish Infantry Brigade (attached Occupation)

A Company, 2nd Chemical Warfare Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

35th Quartermaster War Dog Platoon (attached North Apennines)

38th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon (attached Occupation)

72nd Signal Company (Special) (attached Naples-Foggia)

84th Chemical Mortar Battalion (attached North Apennines)

100th Chemical Mortar Battalion (attached North Apennines, Po Valley)

105th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Naples-Foggia)

107th Coast Artillery Battalion (AAA Automatic Weapons) Battalion (attached Tunisia)

A Company, 191st Tank Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment (attached North Apennines)

432nd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (attached North Apennines)

435th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Anzio)

443rd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled) (attached Tunisia)

751st Tank Battalion (attached Tunisia)

752nd Tank Battalion (attached Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley, Occupation)

753rd Tank Battalion (attached Rome-Arno)

757th Tank Battalion (attached North Apennines)

776th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached Naples-Foggia)

804th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached North Apennines)

807th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached North Apennines)

813th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached Tunisia)

and still other units which remain to be found, confirmed, and listed here.

Edited by Walt's Daughter

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Here is a page she started for her grandfather:

 

http://web3.military.com/HomePage/UserCrea...,714827,00.html

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Here's an order of battle that also shows the 757th.

 

http://www.milhist.net/ordbat/2corpsus.html

 

Order of Battle • II Corps (American)

 

II Corps (American) [ of Fifth Army, 11 Jan 1943 ]

- Hq and Hq Company, II Corps

- 1st Infantry Division (American)

- 1st Armored Division (American)

- 1st Ranger Battalion

- 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion

- 202nd Military Police Company

- 209th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft)

- 431st Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft) (Automatic Weapons)

- 432nd Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft) (Automatic Weapons)

- 19th Engineer Regiment (Combat)

- 62nd Engineer Company (Topographic) [u/c MedBaseSect]

- 13th Field Artillery Brigade

- Hq and Hq Battery, 13th Field Artillery Brigade

- 1st Observation Battalion

- 17th Field Artillery Regiment

- 36th Field Artillery Regiment

- 178th Field Artillery Regiment

- 51st Medical Battalion

- Hq and Hq Detachment, Provisional Ordnance Regiment (Field)

- 42nd Ordnance Battalion (M & S)

- Hq and Hq Detachment

- 78th Ordnance Company (Depot)

- 14th Ordnance Company (Medium Maintenance)

- 9th Ordnance Company (Medium Maintenance)

- 87th Ordnance Battalion (Medium Maintenance) (Q)

- Hq and Hq Detachment

- 3485th Ordnance Company (Medium Maintenance) (Q)

- 3486th Ordnance Company (Medium Maintenance) (Q)

- 30th Ordnance Company (Medium Maintenance) (Tank)

- A Company, 205th Quartermaster Battalion (Gas Supply)

- D Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion (Service)

- 1st Engineer Amphibian Regiment [u/c MedBaseSect]

- 53rd Signal Battalion

 

II Corps (American) [ of Fifth Army, 9 Apr 1945 ]

- 6th South African Armoured Division

- 34th Infantry Division (American)

- 88th Infantry Division (American)

- 91st Infantry Division (American)

- Legnano Combat Group (Italian)

- 91st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron

- 752nd Tank Battalion

- 757th Tank Battalion

- 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion

- 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion

- II Corps Artillery

- 15th Observation Battalion

- 178th Field Artillery Group

- 248th Field Artillery Battalion

- 527th Field Artillery Battalion

- 765th Field Artillery Battalion

- 12th Battery, 54th [brit] Super Heavy Regiment

- A Battery, 530th Field Artillery Battalion

- 77th Field Artillery Group

- 173rd Field Artillery Battalion

- 631st Field Artillery Battalion

- 936th Field Artillery Battalion

- 423rd Field Artillery Group

- 178th Field Artillery Battalion

- 536th Field Artillery Battalion

- 985th Field Artillery Battalion

- 11th Battery, 54th [brit] Super Heavy Regiment

- 71st Anti-Aircraft Brigade

- 209th Anti-Aircraft Group

- 401st Gun Battalion

- 403rd Gun Battalion

- 105th Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled)

- 432nd Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled)

- B Battery, 360th Searchlight Battalion

- II Corps Engineers

- 19th Engineer Combat Group

- 401st Engineer Combat Battalion

- 402nd Engineer Combat Battalion

- 39th Engineer Combat Group

- 404th Engineer Combat Battalion

- 643rd Engineer Combat Battalion

- 1755th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company

 

II Corps (American) [ of Fifth Army, 23 Apr 1945 ]

- Headquarters and Headquarters Company

- 6th South African Armoured Division

- 88th Infantry Division (American)

- 91st Infantry Division (American)

- 752nd Tank Battalion

- 757th Tank Battalion

- 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-propelled)

- 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-propelled)

- Flight B, 121st Liaison Squadron [-1det] [att]

- 209th AAA Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment

- 71st AAA Operation Detachment

- 105th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-propelled)

- 432nd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-propelled)

- 403rd AAA Gun Battalion (Type C)

- Battery B, 360th AAA Searchlight Battalion

- 1438th Engineer Searchlight Maintenance Detachment [att]

- 100th Chemical Mortar Battalion

- 172nd Chemical Smoke Generating Company

- Engineer Section, II Corps

- 19th Engineer Combat Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Company

- 39th Engineer Combat Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Company

- 402nd Engineer Combat Battalion

- 404th Engineer Combat Battalion

- 643rd Engineer Combat Battalion

- 1755th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company

- Field Artillery Section, II Corps

- II Corps Artillery

- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

- 15th Field Artillery Observation Battalion

- 77th Field Artillery Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

- 178th Field Artillery Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

- 423rd Field Artillery Group

- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery

- 173rd Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Gun)

- 985th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Gun)

- 178th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

- 248th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

- 631st Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

- 765th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

- 936th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer)

- 527th Field Artillery Battalion (8-inch Howitzer)

- 536th Field Artillery Battalion (8-inch Howitzer)

- A Battery, 530th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Gun)

- 11th Battery, 54th (British) Super Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery (8-inch Gun) [att]

- 12th Battery, 54th (British) Super Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery (8-inch Gun) [att]

- Medical Section, II Corps

- 54th Medical Battalion

- Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment

- 379th Medical Collecting Company

- 380th Medical Collecting Company

- 381st Medical Collecting Company

- 683rd Medical Clearing Company

- 33rd Field Hospital

- Military Police Platoon, II Corps

- 202nd Military Police Company

- 151st Ordnance Bomb Disposal Squad

- 1st Platoon, 523rd Quartermaster Car Company

- 3rd Platoon, 523rd Quartermaster Car Company

- 1st Platoon, 318th Italian Quartermaster Service Company [att]

- 53rd Signal Battalion

- 3133rd Signal Service Company

- 3915th Signal Service Company (Radio Intelligence [att]

- 3422nd Quartermaster Truck Company

- 2nd Italian Pack Mule Battalion [att]

- 2nd Italian Pack Mule Company

- 13th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 21st Italian Pack Mule Company

- 3rd Italian Pack Mule Battalion [att]

- 1st Italian Pack Mule Company

- 9th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 16th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 5th Italian Pack Mule Battalion [att]

- 11th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 15th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 19th Italian Pack Mule Company

- 30th Finance Disbursing Section [att]

202nd Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment

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This name was also listed on the forum where she posted her request, Patriot Files.

 

757th Tank Battalion

Mr. Max Malcom

1111 Euclid

Augusta, Kansas 67010

(316) 775-6588

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757TH TANK BATTALION

 

 

A Working Bibliography of MHI Sources

 

 

 

Graham, Ralph W. "The Operation of Company D, 757 Tank Battalion, Supporting the 1st Motorized

 

Division, French Expeditionary Corps in the Attack of Radicofani, Italy, 17-18 June 1944 (Rome-Arno Campaign): Personal Experience of a Company Commander." Ft Benning, GA:

 

Inf Sch Paper, 1949? 26 p. #302-757TK.1949a.

 

 

Sawicki, James A. Tank Battalions of the US Army. Dumfries, VA: Wyvern, 1983. p. 332.

 

#302-TK.1983.Ref.

 

Brief unit history.

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http://www.jackson.army.mil/Museum/History...APTER%20II.html

 

See section:

 

First Tanks Arrive

 

Fort Jackson received its first tanks in early 1942 when the 757th Tank Battalion was transferred to the Post from Fort Knox, Kentucky . The terrain at Fort Jackson was considered ideal for tank training, and during maneuvers the armored monsters played a big part in the “ Battle of the Carolinas .†The arrival of the lumbering tanks added still another branch of service to those in training at this busy military Post that already included infantry, artillery, mechanized cavalry, and “tank-killer†units.

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I have recently read an excellent book about the war in Sicily and Italy by Rick Atkinson . The title is THE DAY OF BATTLE and was recently published on late 2007 .He previously published AN ARMY AT DAWN about the war in North Africa .

 

There is much detail about the campaigns and the conditions under which our soldiers had to conduct battle . An example, on page 252 he quotes ... " it soon became evident that Italy would be a battle of engineers : the speed of advance would be determined by bulldoziers, if not by nervous soldiers on hands and knees, prodding for mines with a bayonet."

 

I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the combat engineers .

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I know about the combat engineers on their knees and one hand the other

had a bayonet . two abreast and two behind putting tape.

Was there seen that. 1st. Bn. 135th Reg. 34 I.D. RJR

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if not by nervous soldiers on hands and knees, prodding for mines with a bayonet."

 

Sounds like something from the long gone days of WWII, but there was I, in my boot camp in 1995, learning how to prod for mines with a knife.

 

“Remember people! Palms up so you don't set the damn things off while you're prodding!!!!!!!â€

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I know about the combat engineers on their knees and one hand the other

had a bayonet . two abreast and two behind putting tape.

Was there seen that. 1st. Bn. 135th Reg. 34 I.D. RJR

 

roque_rioas

 

I have followed many of your other posts and know you have ""been there and done that"

After reading this book, I can more fully appreciate the sacrifice that was made by you and others in Italy .See my my profile about my wife's father Major Lester O'Neal , 39th Engineers

KIA at Riardo, Italy in Nov. 43 .

 

Thanks for your comments.

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Sounds like something from the long gone days of WWII, but there was I, in my boot camp in 1995, learning how to prod for mines with a knife.

 

“Remember people! Palms up so you don't set the damn things off while you're prodding!!!!!!!â€

 

CaptO

Thanks for your response to my post . I have followed some of your posts and know of your experiences in this subject . If you have the time, please take time to read this book . The same author also wrote THE LONG GREY LINE,COMPANY OF SOLDIERS, and CRUSADE.He plans to write another book of the WWII liberation trilogy to cover the war after the invasion of France .

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roque_rioas

 

I have followed many of your other posts and know you have ""been there and done that"

After reading this book, I can more fully appreciate the sacrifice that was made by you and others in Italy .See my my profile about my wife's father Major Lester O'Neal , 39th Engineers

KIA at Riardo, Italy in Nov. 43 .

 

Thanks for your comments.

 

ColBill--thanks for your answer, but my memory is fading a little and I just

am too old to read a book,almost (86), sufice to say, I'll just sit back

and read everyones' comments. Roque Riojas known bettter as Rocky

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I read a bit of Army at Dawn for a paper I did for my last class. Pretty hefty tome! I'll have to check out The Day of Battle some time. I'm afraid with the WWII classes I am taking for my masters (WWII in the Pacific currently) I don't get a lot of time for additional reading!

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just too old to read a book

 

Hey Rock, Like I said a minute ago, I don't have time to read books that aren't for my class, but I spend the time in the car listening to them. Go to the library, get them on CD and then transfer them to your PC!

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