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Fire Mission! The Siege at Mortain

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by KodiakBeer, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Fire Mission! The Siege at Mortain, Normandy, August 1944, by Robert Weiss

    Of the hundreds of first person accounts of combat in WWII, this is by far the best I've ever read. Robert Weiss was a replacement fresh from artillery school and his first assignment was to go up hill 314 just east of Mortain and call in fire on any "retreating" German troops he saw. Instead, he ended up surrounded for six days as the German army tried to break through to the sea at Avranche. It's often said that no soldier ever sees more than just a tiny slice of a battle, but Weiss saw a much bigger slice perched up there on that crag. He called in 193 fire missions in those six days and he is eloquent enough to be able to describe that in great detail. He broke up every attack in his sector of the battle, and the few hundred riflemen trapped up there with him beat off every assault to take that position - the Germans soon knew all too well that an artillery observer was on that hill. The "lost battalion" (actually, one company and the remnants of two others) was under artillery fire themselves, but were able to survive because the shape of the hill provided a partial defilade from the east and south.

    They had no food and ammo become critically short. An attempt to resupply by air went into the German lines. Smoke shells stuffed with morphine and sulfa were fired into the hill to be recovered as nothing more than goo. The batteries of his radio were dying and by the 5th and 6th day, he could not receive but could still send, only knowing this because the fire missions and corrections he shouted into the microphone got prompt response.

    Near the end of the book, Weiss reveals that he is Jewish and suggests that in his mind surrender was never an option because he was convinced the SS would have summarily shot him. Yet, he doesn't revel in killing so many of the hated SS, he's just sobered and aged by the experience.

    This is a fine book that should rate near the top of anyone's WWII collection.
     
    belasar likes this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Thanks for the review KodiakBear.

    Moved by Mod to proper sub-forum.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Excellent book and a happy member of my bookshelf.

    The original title was Enemy North, South, East, West. Weiss edited the manuscript, added some clarifying content, then released the book under the Fire Mission! title.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Well, it's a marvelous book under any title.
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Another on my list!
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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