This book is the account of a young man who served and fought with the 3rd US Armored Division in the last months of WWII. Assigned to the 3rd Armored just after the Battle of the Bulge, his account of life as a tank gunner in the waning months of Hitler's Reich, has a surprizing number of twists and turns for so short a span. Given his 'first command' straight out of the replacement depot, he is ordered to take two other replacements and a repaired Sherman on a road march to join his division before the final race across Germany. His first encounter with war includes a collision with a parked Sherman at full speed, A night spent alone in a abandoned German village, A capture by a German tank column, only to find that they want to surrender to the US. The hitch being that the proper Prussian officer will not surrender to a newly minted corpral, So he and his tank 'lead' his prisoners back to his CP. Where upon a new hitch ensuse's, The American HQ knew all about the Germans who wanted to surrender, they just didn't want them as it would slow the column down. Going from Prisoner, to Hero, to Goat in 24 hours disspell's any ideas of glory, just a desire to fit in and survive.
Originally assigned to a Sherman with a 76mm gun, his crew eventually found themselves in a "Super' Pershing for the final weeks of the war. He was much impressed with the Pershing and said it had even better cross country movement over the wet ground in springtime Germany than their original Sherman. His war was one of fast marches and sharp firefights with everything from Marder's to Panther's to Tiger's and what sounds like a JagdTiger by his description. His Sherman does not sound like the deathtrap described by others, but then the crew always bailed out if it got imobilized or stuck in the soft ground during battle. His march across Germany also included a stop at a Concentration Camp, complete with SS Guards. Irwin conceed's that at least two guards were shot by outraged G.I's before an officer could stop them with the threat of summary execution on the spot.
Written in a easy, matter of fact way this was an enjoyable read. His candid descriptions of the people he served with and fought against is very well done indeed, but it is the account of his own emotions and feelings that shine the most. My only wish was that the book was longer, I would have loved to hear about his training at Ft. Knox and the 14 months he spent in the occupation army as Germany rebuilt from the war. Perhaps there is nothing profound in his account, but well worth the read in my opinion. Enjoy!
Edited by belasar, 15 April 2012 - 01:42 AM.