". . . standing in line waiting his turn to board the C-47 transport which would drop him into Holland in the first wave of Operation Market Garden."

Gene Metcalfe was a fit and willing 20-year-old who finally achieved his goal of parachuting behind enemy lines. Days after the 1944 Normandy invasion, his 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuted onto the European continent behind enemy lines in Holland. Their assignment was to capture the bridge leading into the city of Nijmegen. They were led to expect that no seasoned German soldiers would be there to meet them. Quickly, the unit figured out that these were not elderly men and kids manning the tanks and firepower. A blast that erupted near Metcalfe tossed him into the air; the slam to earth caused bleeding from his ear and rendered him unconscious. His best friend considered him dead and fell back with other unit members.

Metcalfe awoke slowly and disoriented. He was taken captive by the Germans and brought to meet a superior German officer who likely was Himmler. The Germans questioned him to learn about his regiment’s plans and also to determine whether he was Jewish. Metcalfe answered all questions humorously, even saying he was a farmer before the war. This lie likely saved his life after he was taken prisoner and assigned to Stalag VII-A, a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

Years later, the book’s content was told by Metcalfe to Nannini, who has done a first-rate job of writing and editing the book for publication. The author combined Metcalfe’s memories with documented research about the events and treatment of German prisoners. Metcalfe’s story is also verified by his personal artwork/sketches that he managed to bring back after the war ended. This 229-paged memoir documents conditions endured during WW II by captured prisoners. Some events are difficult to read about, but Nannini has described these eye-opening facts without dwelling on the horrors.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home