Today is D-Day, the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normady which signalled the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime in Europe. I've recently read several books about World War II, and I was looking for a book which told the story on a more personal note. The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice by Alex Kershaw is such a book.
The book recounts the story of Company A, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division during World War II. Most of Company A came from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, where the young men had joined the National Guard during the Depression to help pay the bills at home. When the war started, the unit was activated, and eventually sent to England where they spent 22 months training for the invasion of Normandy. Company A was among the first wave to go ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day, and suffered heavy casualties. Nineteen of the Bedford Boys died on the beach, and three more during the Normandy campaign.
I found the book well written and a surprisingly quick read. Kershaw develops the personalities of the young men and presents them as real people. As a result, the conclusion of the book can be a bit difficult to get through emotionally. In the end, though, it made me more grateful for the men who sacrificed themselves then, and those who continue to do so today.
6 months ago