You Can't Get Much Closer Than This, A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew Z Adkins, III

You Can't Get Much Closer Than This, A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew Z Adkins, III

Combat with the 80th 'Blue Ridge' Division in World War II Europe

This is the diary of Captain A.Z. Adkins Jr, an officer in the 317th Infantry Regiment of the US 80th Division. It follows his combat career from his arrival in Normandy in August 1944 through to the end of the war (with a break due to a wound and a spell of R&R in Paris). Adkins took part in the breakout from Normandy, the battle of the Bulge, the attacks on the Siegfried Line, the crossing of the Rhine and ended up at Buchenwald and Nuremburg as opposition finally faded.

This is an unusual view of the fighting - Captain Adkins served with a heavy weapons company and then with 81mm medium mortars, so close to the front line, but not the more familiar story of the normal infantryman.

There is an interesting map showing his unit’s progress across Europe, making it clear just how uneven a unit’s movements could be. At first the trend is generally east, until the Bulge, when there is a move back, and a period of zig-zagging, followed by an attack north-east into German then a dash south-east towards Austria.

We get a vivid picture of what it was like to be under fire at the front line, with fierce resistance even as the US army advanced into Germans. It also shows how even a generally successful period of the war can involve individual setbacks that could be very costly for the units involved, as particular German units put up more resistance than their neighbours. This is also a very moving account of the fighting, as so many of the author’s closest colleagues don’t survive. The authors are also good at making it clear where the individual incidents fit into the overall battle.

1 - The Making of a Soldier
2 - First Taste of Battle
3 - Crossing the Moselle
4 - Hill 382 (St. Genevieve)
5 - Villeres-les-Moivron
6 - Sivry, France
7 - Medical Evacuation and Recovery
8 - Back to the Front
9 - The Battle of the Bulge
10 - The Relentless, Bitter Cold Wintet
11 - The Siegfried Line
12 - R&R in Paris
13 - Marching Onwards
14 - Crossing the Rhine
15 - Moving Fast
16 - Buchenwald
17 - Nuremberg
18 - The End of the War

Author: A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew z Adkins, III
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 256
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2015

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