The underreported story of 11 young African-American GIs captured and massacred in the winter of 1944 by the Germans in Wereth, Belgium.
In this fast-paced, anecdotal account, George (A Woman's Right to Rest: Fourteen Types of Biblical Rest that Can Transform Your Life, 2012, etc.) and Child (Ghost Carrier, 2016, etc.) narrate a little-known but “graphic and deeply moving” World War II tale. Since the dialogue is “creatively retold,” the book reads more like fiction and thus aims at a wider audience than just historians. The authors provide an admirable follow-up on their protagonists and offer the right amount of detail for general readers. In addition to their main characters, they explore the role of African-Americans in World War II in general. Though they were drafted along with whites, the Jim Crow discrimination they faced will surprise many readers; most of the million who served were relegated to menial, subservient jobs like kitchen work and driving, and they lived in segregated housing. Moreover, they saw that the German POWs were often treated better than they were. The Wereth 11 trained under Capt. William G. McLeod at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, from late 1942 onward and joined the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion. They operated the 155mm Howitzer, a complicated new weapon that required considerable skill to master. The mostly farm-born men were eventually sent to the U.K. for further training and then stationed in France after D-Day. Entrenched just outside the Siegfried Line (the “West Wall”), the unit was overrun during the surprise attack of the Battle of the Bulge and captured. The authors also tell the story of the kind treatment of the black men by one Catholic German family (in Wereth) before they were found by the Germans.
A sad, chilling work that displays a vigorous buildup and suspense.