Sixty Days in Combat: An Infantryman's Memoir of World War II in Europe
When author Joy joined the army in 1943, he hoped to avoid""the dreaded infantry--in his mind the dirtiest, least glamorous military service imaginable,"" and instead win the glorious mission of flying P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. But like so many other young men, he ended up on solid ground, as a mortarman in the 71st Infantry Division. This modest and clear account follows his reluctant entry to the war, his stateside service and thrilling but brief 60 days of combat in the European Theater. After conversion from a""Light"" to a regular division, the 71st joined Patton's Third Army and carved a frontline across Europe from March 1945 to V-E Day. Joy provides a vivid account of the unsung mortarmen, operators of the infantry's pocket artillery, and details their 60-mm short range, muzzle-loading cannons--able weapons for inflicting harm on friend or foe. In the field, he also encountered the famous all African-American 761st Tank Battalion and eccentric characters such as the macho Wilson, who rammed his bare fist through a window to impress his comrades, and a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, Willie Burns, who, in a champagne rage, nearly shot a German boy to avenge his company's heavy casualties. The author's 50 pencil sketches add immediacy and drama even if they lack sophistication or technical detail. Altogether, this personal history enriches the memory of the WWII infantryman--the average man, or boy, who did his duty and came home to tell about it.