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First to the Rhine

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Received this review from John Fallon, 36th Combat Engineer:

 

 

"I just finished a book that I recommend highly to all of you, "First to the Rhine" by Yeide and Stout by Zenith Press. You have all read more than one book about the 7th Army from the landing in Southern France to the end of the war but this is about the entire 6th Army Group . It details the trials and tribulations of the French 1st Army as it grew after the landing and it combines it with the 7th Army. AS you read it you can understand that the two of them have to be studied at the same time because of the many ways they intermingled Divisions and Corps. Both the 540th Engineers and the 36th get a brief mention but that is more than we usually get. F Company of the 540th is mentioned as being a part of a Task Force and the 36th as it replace the 179th Infantry. If I have to find any fault with it it is the lack of maps but after all we have been looking at maps of southern France and Alsace for a long time now. Our French friends will especially like it because it is actually more detailed than any other books which normally pass the French 1st off. Read it!"

 

 

36 Engineers are rugged......John Fallon II. Capt. USA Ret.

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Received this review from John Fallon, 36th Combat Engineer:

 

 

"I just finished a book that I recommend highly to all of you, "First to the Rhine" by Yeide and Stout by Zenith Press. You have all read more than one book about the 7th Army from the landing in Southern France to the end of the war but this is about the entire 6th Army Group . It details the trials and tribulations of the French 1st Army as it grew after the landing and it combines it with the 7th Army. AS you read it you can understand that the two of them have to be studied at the same time because of the many ways they intermingled Divisions and Corps. Both the 540th Engineers and the 36th get a brief mention but that is more than we usually get. F Company of the 540th is mentioned as being a part of a Task Force and the 36th as it replace the 179th Infantry. If I have to find any fault with it it is the lack of maps but after all we have been looking at maps of southern France and Alsace for a long time now. Our French friends will especially like it because it is actually more detailed than any other books which normally pass the French 1st off. Read it!"

 

 

36 Engineers are rugged......John Fallon II. Capt. USA Ret.

 

I was very excited when First To The Rhine came out because I thought it was high time someone produced a history of 6th Army Group. While reading the book, I was a little disturbed at the number of small factual mistakes made by the authors, and the more I read the more disturbed I became.

 

What really set me off was the intentional misrepresentation of Eisenhower's standing orders to his army groups in the fall of 1944. In their discussion of Eisenhower's decision not to allow 6th Army Group to cross the Rhine in early December 1944 the authors represented his standing orders as not including a specific mandate to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine. Instead they reworded the orders to something like seizing bridgeheads across rivers. This allowed them to circumvent the difficult and complex issue of Eisenhower's error in not allowing 6th Army Group to cross the Rhine when it had the opportunity.

 

As I have some of the same primary sources used by the authors, I went back and began the laborious task of checking their citations, and discovered that a good many were simply wrong. The source either did not say what the authors claimed, or said something fundamentally different such as the wrong unit, the wrong day, the wrong order of events, etc. Taken in toto these errors represent fatal flaws and render the book far less useful than it otherwise might have been. It is the product of sloppy research, and I cannot recommend it.

 

While not perfect, Colley's Decision At Strasbourg is a far more reliable examination of Eisenhower's fateful decision not to allow 6th Army Group to cross the Rhine in December 1944.

 

 

Jim

 

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Jim:

 

It's a real shame when this happens. As far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse for this number of mistakes to occur in one book. With the internet, NARA, etc., at our disposal, this kind of sloppiness should not occur. Maybe it was rushed into publication, maybe not, but whatever the reasons, a real disappointment for many.

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Jim:

 

It's a real shame when this happens. As far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse for this number of mistakes to occur in one book. With the internet, NARA, etc., at our disposal, this kind of sloppiness should not occur. Maybe it was rushed into publication, maybe not, but whatever the reasons, a real disappointment for many.

 

Marion,

 

Unfortunately, Yeide seems to stretch things a bit. In his book, Steel Victory, he makes the claim that Sherman tank crews routinely carried extra rounds of ammunition for their main guns inside the tank. This is not only next to impossible due to space limitations, but extraordinarilly dangerous. As more than one veteran tanker has said, where would we put these rounds, and who in their right minds would want them rolling around on the floor in the first place? When I challenged Yeide for his source on this he could come up with only a single memoir which was completely unvetted. Now I ask you, how does one take the claim of a single, unexamined source and extrapolate it to include all or most tankers?

 

I documented my findings regarding the error in First To The Rhine into a formal, academic style review of the book. Perhaps you would like to have the review posted on your website. If so, let me know, and I can send it to you as a Word attachment.

 

Jim

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Yes, one source of information is very dangerous. If I simply relied on that for my work, especially my documentary, I'd be in a whole heap of trouble.

 

Historic writers must be very careful when compiling and finally sharing information, for as we all know, years have a tendency to mar memories. Even when interviewing "my boys", many will say, "I'm relying on my memory", or "it's been a long time, so you may want to check the facts with others...", etc. In other words, it's up to us to collect, dismantle and re-construct the facts to the best of our abilities.

 

One well-intentioned vet questioned something I wrote about the Battle of Bulge. His response was, "it never happened". It was a dangerous thing to assume. Just because one person, didn't experience something during the war, does not mean it didn't occur elsewhere in the ETO. When I talked to him about it at a later date, he relented and stated he was strictly speaking from his vantage point.

 

I would like the Word attachment. Please send my way. I can convert to PDF, or so a simple copy and paste.

 

Sure is nice to hear from you. I look forward to reading it.

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Jim: Received the file and did convert to PDF. Thought it would be easier for our readers.

 

Thank you for your thorough review.

 

I believe we (vets, their families, etc.), were thrilled to get our hands on First to the Rhine, for it covered the territory the 36th and 540th Combat Engineers traversed and actually referenced them (a scarce source of information in released books). I too enjoyed the book, and recommended it to several people. So was disheartened to find it contained erroneous information, via your review.

First_to_the_Rhine_Book_Review___Jim_Lankford.pdf

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Jim: Received the file and did convert to PDF. Thought it would be easier for our readers.

 

Thank you for your thorough review.

 

I believe we (vets, their families, etc.), were thrilled to get our hands on First to the Rhine, for it covered the territory the 36th and 540th Combat Engineers traversed and actually referenced them (a scarce source of information in released books). I too enjoyed the book, and recommended it to several people. So was disheartened to find it contained erroneous information, via your review.

 

Dear Marion:

 

I see you have uploaded my review to your website. However, the endnotes are missing, an omission that damages the integrity of the review. I am sure this is just an oversight, as I know you would not edit my work without permission. Will you please add the endnotes?

 

 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

 

Jim

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Certainly. Don't know what happened. I copied to the article to PDF. Will try again. Getting ready to have dinner right now. So hold on... will be later this evening or early morning. I apologize for being remiss...

 

:armata_PDT_23:

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Jim, went back and opened the original file you sent, and there are only three and a half pages. There are NO footnotes. Therefore the PDF transferred it exactly as it was.

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Jim, went back and opened the original file you sent, and there are only three and a half pages. There are NO footnotes. Therefore the PDF transferred it exactly as it was.

 

I double checked the email attachment I sent to you, and the endnotes are on the copy that went out. It is a mystery to me, although I suspect there was some sort of software glitch somewhere. Regardless, I apologize for the confusion.

 

Here is the link to the my review of First to the Rhine.

 

Complete Review of First to the Rhine

 

Jim

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