Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Under Fire

Didn't post anything yesterday on observed Memorial Day.  But the 31st is the true day, isn't it?   Spent most of the day on a couch reading Henri Barbusse's horrific novel of a French squad of soldiers in the trenches of WW1.   Titled "Under Fire" in the English version, in the original French it was titled "Le Feu: jounal d'une escouade".   Written in December 1916 based on the authors trench diaries.  Hard-boiled anecdotes of the trenches at the squad level.  Only speaks of privates and the corporal squad leader, hardly never of sergeants and officers.  Author was 41 in 1914 when the war started yet still served.

But despite my negligence in posting, both FDChief and Ranger Jim had good Memorial Day posts.  Worth reading, both of them, if you haven't seen them already.


  1. Mike,
    read guy sayers book= the forgotten soldier.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion Jim. I am ordering a copy today. Cant believe my local library only has an audio version.

  3. Another good read from your guys' war is "Soldier" by Tony Herbert.

  4. "Le Feu" I know is "Hell". What does the subtitle translate to, Mike?

  5. Le Feu = "Fire". Although he had written an earlier work titled L'enfer meaning "Hell", although that was written well before the war.

    Journal d'une Escouade = "Story of One Squad", or perhaps "Story of a Squad". My French language skills are limited to singing Frere Jacques and I used to know some boocoo words of French slang used by the Viets. In any case this particular squad is the story line of the book, basically covering a single squad of Frenchmen during the early years of WW1.

  6. FDChief -

    I'll put Herbert on my reading list. I vaguely remembered his beef against CBS. Had to look it up. Even though the state supreme court ruled he had no grounds to take his libel case to court, I find it suspicious that his chief accuser on 60 Minutes, Colonel Franklin, may have also been involved in the My Lai coverup. Colonel Franklin was also asserted to have later been involved in an investment scam, but I could not find any news stories on that other than allegations.

    Bless him I say for exposing atrocities. Hard to go against the West Point ring-knockers when they stand together.

    1. I liked Herbert's "ass in the grass count." the battalion wasted manpower on a Pizza making crew.

    2. I thought that a lot of the value of the Herbert book was in his memoir of the pre-Volar Army, including the early years of Vietnam. His Korea stories are chilling; that was one fucked-up war for a grunt - well, what war isn't, but the climate and terrain on the peninsula are about as bad for infantry as anywhere in the world. And the Army infantry of Korea got it good and hard...

  7. Fasteddiez -

    Haven't heard "ass in the grass count" in 50 years. That's one reason why the West Pointers at Brigade probably hated Herbert. They preferred a more genteel "tooth to tail ratio".

    Almost every unit had a few guys that managed to find a way to keep their ass in back of the barbed wire. Shamefully one of the best at it that I recall was a career lifer that had the knack of making himself indispensable to either the Sgt Major or the HqCo CO. But the troops had his number.

    Pizza on the other hand sounds like a great idea to me if it was for the guys coming back from the bush, and not for the brass. Although pizza baked by non-cooks doesn't sound appetizing. Flavored cardboard anyone? The original pizzagate conspiracy?

  8. FDChief -

    Just finished reading Ha Jin's novel of the Chinese "Volunteers" in the Korean War. It wasn't just the US Army infantry that got it good and hard in that war. Thousands of those Chinese "Volunteers" froze to death. Hundreds of thousands of them were captured or KIA. The WIA among them rarely survived unless they were captured.

    Ha Jin tells a story based on his father who was a PLA veteran of that war. Tells of the Yalu crossing and combat. Also tells of the POW camps at Koje-do and Cheju-do, and the war-behind-the-wire in those camps, the kidnapping of General Todd, and the internal wars between those wanting repatriation and those wanting to go to Taiwan. Those ChiCom POWs who did repatriate were marked as traitors or malingerers and treated badly. Makes my homecoming from Viet-Nam seem like sweetness and cherry blossoms despite the hate from a few compatrioti.

    Good read! http://www.powells.com/book/war-trash-9781400075799/1-2

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