Fighting Fascism in Europe: The World War II Letters of an American Veteran of the Spanish Civil War

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On his first day in basic training in 1942, Lawrence Cane wrote his wife Grace from Fort Dix, New Jersey. I'm in the army nowreally!he wrote, complaining, I don't have enough time to write a decent letter.Three years later, Capt. Lawrence Cane went home from World War II. He'd landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, helped liberate France and Belgium, and survived the Battle of the Bulge. He won a Silver Star for bravery. And he still managed to write 300 letters home to Grace. This book is a different kind of war story—both an powerful chronicle of life in battle and a unique portrait of courage fueled by a life-long passion for political justice.Cane's fight for freedom began well before D-Day. In 1937, joined the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and got wounded fighting for democracy in Spain. In 1942, at age 30, he enlisted in the new war against fascism, and as an officer with the 238th Combat Engineer Battalion, went ashore in Normandy to clear mines, destroy fortifications, and open roads from Normandy to the Siegfried Line. Of the 400 Spanish Civil War veterans in World War II, Cane was the only one to go ashore on D-Day.After the war, Lawrence Cane fought for civil rights and peace until his death in 1976. Discovered in 1995 by Cane's son David, his letters are not only classic accounts of war and unforgettable expressions of love for family. They are the fiercely patriotic words of a left-wing, working-class New York Jew (and one-time Communist Party member) who knew exactly why we fought—-to create a better world by destroying all forms of fascism, one battle at a time.With a fascinating introduction by David Cane, detailed notes, and much additional material, these letters add a new dimension to the meaning of American patriotism and an invaluable chapter to the history of the greatest generation.

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Editorial Reviews

Frank F. Mathias
"A marvelous story... will be consulted as long as World War II and the Spanish Civil War are studied... Cane is a very good writer."
--author of The GI Generation: A Memoir
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David E. Cane is Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry at Brown University.

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Read an Excerpt

Somewhere in France
10 June 1944

My Darling,

I know you must be at your wits end by now, for not hearing from me.

I landed in France on D-day with combat engineers in the assault wave. Helped storm through the beach defenses and am still at the front. (Everything is frontline area here right now anyway).

My outfit has been [censored] so you know just where I want to be. Although I'm still officially in my old company; actually I'm on detached service with the [censored].

And, darling, we are raising hell.

Last night, I had charge [censored] while our outfit ferried the [censored].

You can tell our kids that daddy got plenty of Nazis.

I love you, darling. Please don't worry about me.

My love to everyone. A big letter to follow when I get a chance to get a breather.

Your own,

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Lawrence Cane's Fight Against Fascism
Remembering Lawrence Cane
Note on Editorial Practices
1 Basic Training: Geiger Field, Spokane, Washington August 28-November 8, 1942 1
2 Officer Candidate School and Military Intelligence Training: Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Camp Ritchie, Maryland November 9, 1942-July 31, 1943 31
3 Preparing for the D-Day Invasion: England January 25-June 5, 1944 60
4 The D-Day Invasion and Beyond: Fighting in France and Belgium June 6-September 14, 1944 83
5 The Siegfried Line and the Battle of the Bulge: Fighting in Germany and Belgium September 15, 1944-January 26, 1945 129
6 The End of the Third Reich: Belgium, Germany, and France January 27-May 8, 1945 165
7 Waiting to Come Home May 9-October 29, 1945 194
App. A History of The Ticker 219
App. B Lawrence Cane's Request for Reassignment to Combat or Airborne Engineer Battalion 221
App. C Diary of Lt. George A. Worth 223
App. D Lawrence Cane's Silver Star Citation 232
App. E Silver Star Affidavit 234
App. F History of the 23th Engineer Combat Battalion 235
App. G Selected After/After Action Reports 240
App. H 1972 WBAI Radio Interview with Lawrence Cane 248
For Further Reading 261
Index 263
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