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Remembered Today:

Finding the Lost Battalion


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This post has been a long-time coming. Unfortunately (for getting this topic posted) I have recently become a father, so life is not the same anymore.

Anyway.... written by Mr. Robert J Laplander, this is one of the most finely detailed, well-rounded, and moving books that I have ever read - full stop.

The book doesn't just deal with the events in "the pocket" but the formation of the 308th, histories on various personalities, and the battles which the 308th were involved in leading up to the siege in the pocket.

And the book tells us about the decisions and activities behind the lines with those in charge and making the order; the French on the left; the Air Corps; and just as importantly - the Germans opposite. Great detail has gone into letting the reader know about what the Germans were doing and how they were reacting to the various American movements which gives us a well-rounded and well-informed view of the battlefield.

And when the siege commences, the book is actually broken down into an individual chapter for the morning events and the afternoon events for each day.

Again, the detail is staggering. If you have a vivid imagination like I do you are actually able to put yourself back on that slope. I won't lie - I had tears in my eyes more than once.

And Mr. Laplander doesn't stop with the relief of Whittlesey and his men. He takes us all back home to America after the war, and explains how the survivors scattered and what they got up to, and how the various "rumours, myths and legends" started.

And the saddest part of the tale which is just as respectfully told, is the sad end of Major Whittlesey.

I could go on for pages - but I think you all should have gotten the gist by now!

I am sure there are those that will say this is just a small part of the Americans involvement in the war. And they are correct. However the suffering in inhumane conditions, determination, deprivation, and will to survive an utterly hopeless situation sets them apart. I personally cannot think of any other situation in the Great War that is a parallel to the events in "the pocket". And before you pass judgement - I would suggest you read this book. No Great War library is complete without it.

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Thanks for this post. Sounds like a must-read!

I first learned about Major Whittlesey when researching my grandparents; apparently he leapt off the SS Toloa, the very ship upon which my parents took their honeymoon cruise. If there is interest I have a photo or two of the Toloa I can share.



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