Saturday, May 23, 2015

Parachute Infantry

Parachute Infantry by David Kenyon Webster

Webster fought as a Paratrooper during WWII. His story is partly told in the miniseries Band of Brothers. He jumped into Normandy on D-Day, was wounded, and later returned for the march into Germany.

One of the few soldiers who had a higher education, Webster loved books and words, which is easily picked up in his book which is written more like a journal then any of the other Band of Brothers books. (Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that Webster died in the sixties, before Band of Brothers was written and the 101st Airborne made so popular. He never had the chance to revise his book, but left behind his unedited and honest thoughts of the war.)

Webster didn't hide his feelings about the war, neither in his book or in real life. He was known as a complainer and even admitted it in his book. He complained about the cold, the snow, the heat, the lack of food and bed. Everything and anything. Webster hated the army and the war. He wanted to go back to his quiet, normal life with his family.

It was odd reading Websters book after the other Band of Brothers ones I've read. It took me a while to sort out my thoughts on Webster. I think I've finally concluded though that Webster put down, very bluntly, what a lot of young men were feeling at the time. They were pulled into a war they hadn't started, they saw their friends die around them, and then they found out what the Nazis were doing in the camps and that made it worse for a lot of them. 

There were some exceptional men in the war. Men who fought bravely and didn't complain, and I think we hear their stories so often we forget a lot of the soldiers were boys who never had the chance to go to college. Before the war they were going to movies, dating, going to school, playing games in the streets with their friends. Then all the sudden they were thrown into a battlefield and having to fight for their lives. Not all of them handled it well, not all of them could handle it well.

I don't think of Webster as a coward, if anything by the time I finished his book I saw him as very human.

In spite of this, I don't recommend his book as strongly as I do the other Band of Brothers ones. It isn't because of his complaining, but because he does use more God dishonoring swear words then were in the other books. He also describes the soldiers' times with some of the girls. (He went into some detail and I ended up just skimming those pages.) I would recommend it to older readers, and I've thrown in my warning.

No comments:

Post a Comment