Most people don’t realize that during the war in Europe in the 1940s, it took an average of six support soldiers to make the work of four combat soldiers possible. Most of what’s available in the literature tends toward combat narratives, and yet the support soldiers had complex and unique experiences as well. This book is based on personal correspondence, and it is primarily a memoir that creates a picture of the day-to-day realities of an individual soldier told in his own words [as much as he could tell under the wartime rules of censorship, that is] as well as giving insight into what it was actually like to be an American soldier during WWII. It explores the experiences of a non-combat Army utilities engineer working in a combat zone during the war in Europe and takes the protagonist from basic training through various overseas assignments—in this case to England, North Africa, and Italy as a support soldier under Eisenhower and his successors at Allied Force Headquarters. It also includes some reflections about his life after returning to Oregon when the war was over.
The soldier involved is Captain Harold Alec Daniels [OSU, Class of 1939, ROTC] and most of the letters were written to his wife, Mary Daniels [attended U of O in the late 1930s]. They are the author’s parents, and she inherited the letter collection, photos, and all other primary source materials after her mother’s death in 2006.
If you are someone who loves history, this book will fascinate you as you learn the journey of a utilities engineer during the World War II, through his letters to his wife, and how essential the services of engineers were during one of the difficult times the human race had faced before. Alec and Mary are the author’s parents and this beautiful memoir will move you with the love between Alec and Mary, and how they kept the marriage alive throughout the War.
I must say it was an intense read, not knowing what will happen to Alec. I loved reading this book. A five star for this book.