As a teenager dating WWII vets returning home, I heard all sorts of snippets of the snafus that occurred during the war and Book Two covers the trials and adjustments made by the medical teams on the push by the Americans into France on D-day and thereafter. It is the story of Will Hastings, whose college education of two years and medical training of two years were mysteriously paid for and then he was drafted. His rank was Captain, although he lacked much medical training, including surgery, stitching up wounds, etc. In England before D-day, Major Halliburton, a doctor and his boss, was injured in an air-raid. Will, being the only one available, had to sew him up but due to his lack of expertise, the scars on the Major’s face were horrific, for which Halliburton never forgave him. When his LST holding the medical groups landed, Halliburton sent Will and his medic Antsley out onto the beach, with loose orders, which would probably lead to their death with the thousands of others who died that day and many more the next day when they had to push through the hedgerows.
The story encompassed Will receiving his necessary medical knowledge and skills from other doctors while working with them under fire. Will seemed fearless and charged into areas where others died and yet he managed to survive. Since he had no dependents, he offered to substitute where needed and seemed able to go without sleep. On the side, he constantly searched for a wrecked glider, which a month before his brother Peter was reputed to have died in. Will convince himself he still had to be alive.
Virginia didn’t play much of a role in this story. There were many twists, turns and surprises. As with the first book, the reader lives the story and is rewarded with deep insight into the lives of the medical personnel during WWII, about which there is little written. At the end of the story, the author revealed his sources of information from active military medical personnel during that time, plus French people who lived under German occupation and the push in the Normandy area. He also wrote about actual events that occurred on Omaha Beach.
I view this book like “Gone With the Wind.” It is so realistic and educational. I wonder what the author has left to include in Book 3. I loved every minute of reading this story and highly recommend it, even as a history lesson for our children.
Reviewed by Joan A. Adamak