Pat was a teenage boy who came of age during the tumultuous times of World War II. He entered the Army during his 18th year as a voluntary inductee. Basic training was administered at Ft. Bragg N. C. After basic he was scheduled to be shipped to the South Pacific as a member of a pack artillery unit but an untimely bout of the flu forced a change in his assignment. He was placed in a replacement pool, a pool of young soldiers who would step into the vacancies caused by the inevitable casualties that would occur during the planned invasion of Europe, code named "Operation Overlord."
Pat shipped over seas in a small wooden vessel that once carried fruit from South America to Boston. It had been requisitioned to carry troops to Great Britain. It was a very large convoy that included Pat?s ship. The speed of the crossing was no greater than the speed of the slowest vessel in the fleet. The crossing took weeks in a constant attempt to evade German U Boats by an erratic course across the Atlantic.
The port of debarkation was Liverpool England. A troop train transported the soldiers from there to a military establishment in Cardiff Wales. Here the soldiers continued to train and bide their time, waiting for the inevitable invasion of Europe. Soon the soldiers were transported to the Channel Coast where they remained on standby alert for the invasion to commence.
D Day, June 6, 1944 arrived, Operation Overlord was unleashed. The gruesome casualties of Omaha Beach were endured and the beach head prevailed.
Six days after D Day the contingent of replacements that included Pat landed on Omaha Beach and fulfilled the purpose of their existence. They replaced the soldiers that had been killed or wounded in the preceding 6 days. Pat was assigned to the 1st howitzer gun crew of A Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. The Fifteenth Battalion was the artillery support and a part of the 9th Combat Team (9th CBT) that included the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division.
Pat learned his job as a 105 howitzer gun crew member as A Battery fired their guns in support of the 9th Infantry, moving from position to position through the French hedgerow country. He learned his job well and eventually was assigned the job as loader for his crew.
Pat formed two close friendships in his military experience, Ed who he had known since basic training and Ben, the Texan on his crew, who became his pup-tent partner.
After the successful conclusion of the Normandy Campaign the 2nd Division was ordered to subdue the port city of Brest on the Breton Peninsula. A 220 mile road march brought the 2nd Division to the outskirts of the city. Brest was defended by a garrison of 36000 German soldiers, the core of which were the vaunted 2nd Paratroop Division.
After the surrender of the German garrison at Brest. Pat?s unit had a short respite before embarking on another road march of 710 miles through liberated France to the German boarder. The 15th Battalion took defensive positions in the Schnee Eiffel forest. Here for the next month the 15th Battalion?s Artillery Batteries engaged in counter battery, observed and harassing fire missions in this sector of a thinly held front. Log bunkhouses and mess halls were constructed to combat the increasingly sever winter weather. German Buzz Bombs were observed here for the first time.
Early December found the 9th CBT on the road heading north to begin an attack on the Siegfried Line. Pat and his buddies reluctantly gave up their comfortable quarters to a green division fresh from the States that relieved them.
After heavy fighting and artillery bombardment a critical crossroads on the Siegfried Line, Wehlerscheid, was taken, only to be given back the next day. The Germans had started their infamous winter offensive, The Battle of the Bulge. Our troops were ordered to withdraw several miles and establish a defensive line. This unprecedented withdrawal under fire was accomplished with minimal losses. The protective artillery barrage laid down by Pat?s 15th Artillery Battalion was instrumental in the successful withdrawal.
Pat learned that German tanks had overwhelmed the Division that had relieved them 6 days before in the Schnee Eiffel. The next several days were filled with acts of heroism by the infantry, artillery forward observers, rear echelon troops and many others. An incessant series of enemy tank and infantry attacks were stopped by our brave fighting men and the constant rain of artillery shells that poured down on the attackers. The 2nd Infantry Division and neighboring units held firm the northern shoulder of the Bulge, denying the Germans access to a network of roads that led to the channel coast.
Pat?s unit, A Battery, during the apex of the German attacks was ordered to move to a new, less exposed position. The move was accomplished in the dead of a moonless night over a ridge-line road that was subject to intermittent enemy artillery fire. Reconnaissance, displacement, emplacement and the resumption of fire missions was accomplished in a 3 hour period. It was an unprecedented accomplishment. Later A Battery was subjected to a night time enemy artillery attack. Due to the excellent defilade provided by their position on the ascending slope of a hill the shells skimmed over A Batteries position and landed in the gully behind.
Pat and his buddies awoke in the morning after a short nap between fire missions. They found the walls of their pyramidal tent riddled with shrapnel holes. Pat found one hole a foot over where his head had lain the night before. In the gully behind their position they saw innumerable black shell craters in the snow.
By the end of January the German offensive had run its course. The 9th CBT was again on the attack. The 15th Battalion, after a series of moves was em-placed near the town of Frankin. An intact bridge had been secured across the Rhine river by the 9th Armored Division. The 2nd Division was given the assignment of protecting that Remagen bridge head.
The action for A Battery was relatively quiet. Pat and his buddy Ben decided to take advantage of the slow action and site in their carbines. They walked a couple of hundred yards behind their gun position and fired a few rounds from their carbines at targets in a woods. They were very nearly mistaken for enemy snipers by a contingent of infantry on the other side of the woods and nearly become targets themselves of a mortar barrage. Luckily for them, they were recognized as American G Is by an Officer, who chewed them out instead.
As the bridge head across the Rhine was consolidated. The time came for the 2nd Division to cross the river. On March 21st the Division crossed the Rhine on a pontoon bridge constructed by the army engineers.
The 2nd Division pursued the German army, which by now was in a disorganized retreat, through central Germany. The chase was often interrupted by fanatic German defensive stands in delaying actions.
A Battery moved into a firing position in the Gahrenberg Forest in an open field in front of a palatial German hunting lodge. The lodge was well stocked with fine wines and liqueurs. The Captain rewarded his men with a share of the booze. Pat, who was designated to collect his gun crews share, was less than popular when when he returned with only two of the three bottles he was sent for. The third bottle had inadvertently been dropped. It smashed against the flagstone floor when he stuck it inside his fatigue jacket for safe keeping without first tucking in his jacket.
After following a tank spear head for several miles A Battery em-placed in an open field facing a patch of woods. German soldiers were soon observed in the woods. It obviously had not been cleared by the infantry. The Captain ordered the 1st Sargent to organize an ad hoc infantry platoon from men in the gun crews and clear the woods. Pat was one of the men selected and soon found himself advancing from tree to tree with his carbine at the ready. After a few shots were fired the 1st Sargent observed a white flag and called for a cease fire. He then ordered the Germans to come out with their hands in the air. At least one of the Germans must have understood English for six of them surrendered, coming out with their hands held high.
In early April the 2nd Division?s advance slowed to a crawl. Enemy resistance increased significantly as the Division approached the Leuna-Merseburg industrial complex on the approach to Leipzig. This was the vital heart that supplied the life blood of the German war machine. The complex was protected by the greatest concentration of anti aircraft weapons on the European continent. One thousand anti aircraft guns were arrayed in 40 well fortified em-placements, all with clear fields of fire. They were manned by fanatic German gun crews who had no intention of surrendering.
It was during the ensuing unprecedented artillery duals that C Battery was hit, loosing two guns and wounding Pat?s buddy Ed. Ed died of his wounds a few days later. The German guns were eventually subdued followed by the city of Leipzig?s defeat. This would prove to be the last major battle for the 2nd Division before Germany?s unconditional surrender.
After the fall of Leipzig the 2nd Division turned south and was involved in minor skirmishes and mop up operations until they arrived in Czechoslovakia. This would be the location of their final offensive position. It was here they learned of Germany?s unconditional surrender.
In due time Pat returned to his family in the U. S. A. and was on furlough when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. Japans surrender followed, as did Pats discharge from the army.
The final chapter of this story deals with Pat?s return to France, the retracement of his route through Normandy from his landing on Omaha Beach to the French town of Vire, 49 years later.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Don't give up
Today we live in the shadows of a tree called "Freedom", but this very tree was planted on hundreds probably thousands of soldiers deathbed. We take our freedom for granted and forget that there was time not so long in past when you had to fight with your life to earn this freedom. Operation overlord by Jack Patterson is a historical novel which spellbinds its readers to the era of World War II wherein life and death were just a step away, when villages and cities were burned to dust over night. This is a story of a young soldier (author himself) who enrolled in military to serve his nation in time of need. Story highlights life of a soldier through his friendship his courage and his dedication for his nation. "Operation Overlord" was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German occupied Western Europe during World War II by allied forces. Author is a veteran from World War II and in this book he is describing his first hand experience on war itself. Pat was 18, young and inexperienced. He joined army to be a soldier and to defend his nation while leaving behind his education. Book describes Pats progress through basic training, his shipment overseas, and his experiences in Great Britain. Story continues with pats landing on Omaha Beach, where he was assigned to the Fifteenth Field Artillery Battalion, there his experience with his battalion. Later He fought through battles in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He saw Germany's soldiers surrender while his battalion was in Czechoslovakia. And as the war comes to an end his return to his home. But after almost 50 years to the war Pat returns to his once battlefield and pays his respects for lost loved ones. In War one has to fight to protect the things that mattered like family, friends and nation. Reading Jack Patterson's account of his wartime experiences is truly phenomenal. At times this book made my eyes moist and others I was left with smiling face. Story is filled with Light humors between comrades and fascinating yet terrifying deeds of WWII. This book is a must read to anyone who want to know more about WWII. This story is worth every star out of 5 stars.
I enjoyed reading the story of Pat, a young man that dropped out of high school to fight in one of the most significant wars in world history. Pat's character is innocent and fun, even amidst the shocking realities of brutal battles before high tech weaponry had been invented. It's hard to imagine facing death in large numbers, where bodies are stacked in piles, awaiting for transfer. That is just one of the shocking experiences Pat faced at the beginning of his journey. This is an important story, not only for WWII veterans, but for our children. This story is set in a time when young boys wanted to fight for the freedom that we take for granted. I loved reading the endearing experiences that Pat had, for example, when in England, a stranger made him a cup of tea in the late hours of the night. Pat appreciated little acts of kindness in such terrifying times. I wish that we could have learned a little more about what happened in some of the battles that Pat participated in. Perhaps the author wanted to spare us gory details, but I felt like it glossed over some of the harsh realities that Pat faced. Having said that, I think this book would be perfect for older children and junior high students in an educational setting. It isn't too harsh, but gives us an idea of what it was like to fight in WWII. In one part of the book, Pat cries for an hour in a bar. That part of the book is what I will remember the most. This is where I felt the deepest expressions of Pat's grief from the horrors of war. He (and the author) are truly heroes. I would like to give this book 4 stars, but give it 3 stars only because there were some changes in the narrative from second person to first person. There was also a chapter that was a report. I think taking significant parts of the report, and then adding Pat's perspective to what was said in the report would have made it even more interesting. With some fine-tuning, this could be a great book for all ages. A great read!
Overlord is an intense and exciting novelette written by Jack Patterson about a young man who enlists to fight in World War 2. Jack Patterson, the author and now 86 years old, writes the story drawing on his own knowledge from his same experiences during the war. It is with this knowledge that he provides the reader with this factual and never boring account of a young man’s fear, exhilaration, anxiety and the hopefulness experienced during the journey from basic training to battle on D-day. Included in the print book are maps and pictures that, along with superb descriptive writing skills, help the reader experience the shock and awe of that time period. The excitement starts right from the prologue, dropping the reader straight into a banana boat destined to replace the first casualties of D-day, which everyone knew would be numerous. History buffs will love this tale as will war enthusiasts. It would make a wonderful story for required reading in high school as it not only provides much insight into those times of war with wonderful detail but does it in such a way as to keep the reader engaged and entertained. It is a gut wrenching story that I fully enjoyed from start to finish. While reading the book I was able to immerse myself so deeply into the story that I could see and hear the action inside my head, much like a movie. This is only achieved when the writing is good enough to take me there. Also, the characters were so fleshed out and well-developed that I truly worried about their physical and emotional well-being. Everything isn’t serious though. There are humorous parts scattered throughout, in particular among the soldiers, which was one of the ways, if not the only the only way to alleviate the stress they were under. I loved this book, enjoying the unique viewpoint from an author who was actually there but wrote it from a fictionalized viewpoint. It was well worth the time it took to read it!
The story follows Pat, an 18 year-old high school dropout, as he volunteers for the draft during World War II. As a member of the 1st howitzer gun crew of A Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division follow Pat as he goes from Normandy just six days after D-day through France, into Germany, and eventually Czechoslovakia. As the story unfolds Pat faces the difficulties of war including but not limited to: the fear of battle, going days without sleep, constant relocation and emplacement, and watching as friends become casualties of war. Shortly after the end of the war Pat finds himself discharged from the military, however those experiences stay with him throughout his life. In fact, forty-nine years later he finds himself back in Europe retracing his journey and recounting those events. I found it easy to visualize the events taking place, thanks to the author’s excellent use of description. The characters were well written, and I found myself invested in their well-being. Dialogue between characters offered some much needed comic relief in the midst of some tense, dramatic scenes. Although the story moved forward at a decent pace there were just a few places where it seemed a bit slower than necessary. Overall, a compelling read that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest or curiosity in the events of war.
I really enjoyed this book. Coming from a military family, I understood a lot of what was happening not only at the home front, but also as Pat was surviving Basic Training and learning about the military way of life. What really struck me was that I had an uncle serve in the Army-Air Force during WWII, and although he wasn’t in the Army Battalion A, he was in many of the places Pat and his company was. So, not only could I envision what the artillery teams were doing, I could also imagine my uncle there too. This story takes us through the war, but luckily for me, it doesn’t show too many of the horrors of the war. This also gives a soldier’s perspective on war. Listening to my uncles’ tales of the war, gives me the perspective that this story is how most of the young men treated the war. This historical account of the war from the soldier’s perspective is a must read for anyone interested not only in WWII, but also for those interested in the military.
I may be one of the only people who has ever done this but I have, on more than one occasion, sat down and thought about what it would have been like to live during WWII and see so many young men getting drafted. I can't even imagine the things that went through their mind when they first heard. It has to be rough being a teenager and getting shipped off to fight in a foreign land. In Operation Overload by Jack Patterson, a young man is enlisted in WWII and the novel takes an insightful look at how war effects these young men. The author seemed to have a vast knowledge about WWII and the story was well written. The characters really came to life and the author was able to draw numerous emotions out of me over the course of the few hours it took me to read it. I would recommend this book to history buffs and non history buffs as well. It was a great story and I loved the characters!