G Company's War
Two Personal Accounts of the Campaigns in Europe, 1944-1945
Publication Year: 1998
This unique account of combat in World War II provides parallel day-to-day records of the same events as seen by two men in the same company, one an enlisted man, one an officer.
G Company's War is the story of a World War II rifle company in Patton's Third Army as detailed in the journals of S/Sgt. Bruce Egger and Lt. Lee M. Otts, both of G Company, 328th Regiment, 26th infantry Division.
Bruce Egger arrived in France in October 1944, and Lee Otts arrived in November. Both fought for G Company through the remainder of the war. Otts was wounded seriously in March 1945 and experienced an extended hospitalization in England and the United States. Both men kept diaries during the time they were in the service, and both expanded the diaries into full-fledged journals shortly after the war.
These are the voices of ordinary soldiers--the men who did the fighting--not the generals and statesmen who viewed events from a distance. Most striking is how the two distinctly different personalities recorded the combat experience. For the serious-minded Egger, the war was a grim ordeal; for Otts, with his sunny disposition, the war was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, sometimes even fun. Each account is accurate in its own right, but the combination of the two into a single, interwoven story provides a broader understanding of war and the men caught up in it.
Historian Paul Roley has interspersed throughout the text helpful overviews and summaries that place G Company's activities in the larger context of overall military operations in Europe. In addition, Roley notes what happened to each soldier mentioned as wounded in action or otherwise removed from the company and provides an appendix summarizing the losses suffered by G Company. The total impact of the work is to describe the reality of war in a frontline infantry company.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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As word of this undertaking began to spread among former G Company members, a number of them stepped forward to offer important documentary materials, words of encouragement, and reminiscences. Foremost was former G Company 1st Sgt. Rocco Clemente, who provided us with some helpful company rosters, his personal journal, some...
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This is an account of an American rifle company in Patton's famed Third Army during World War II as detailed in the journals of S/Sgt. Bruce Egger and Lt. Lee M. Otts, both ofG Company, 328th Infantry. What distinguishes it from other accounts of the wartime experience is that these are the voices of ordinary GIs, two of the hundreds of thousands...
Prologue [Includes Image Plates]
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The burden of fighting the wars that old men make is disproportionately the lot of the young, and never more so than in World War II. The authors of the two accounts contained in this book are cases in point. S/Sgt. Bruce Egger was twenty-one years old during the entire time he was leading a squad of twelve men in combat; Lt. Lee Otts...
1. First Blood
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Following the invasion of France on June 6, 1944, and a protracted slugging match in the hedgerows of Normandy, the Allies had been able to effect a breakout at St. Lo in late July. Suddenly the war had been transformed from a series of bloody assaults into one of movement as the Anglo-American armies swept across northern France....
2. The Mud of Lorraine
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On the south end of the Third Army line, where the 26th Division was engaged, the fiercest fighting in Patton's fall campaign in Lorraine had occurred in the first week. The capture of the Morhange and Dieuze (Foret de Bride et de Koecking) Plateaus, where Egger and the rest of the 328th Regiment had encountered such heavy going, had...
3. Transition: From Lorraine to Metz
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Prior to the launching of the offensive in Lorraine on November 8, General Patton had declared that the Third Army would reach the West Wall, the line of fortifications on the border of Germany some forty miles away, "in not to exceed D plus 2 days."1 When the offensive was suspended on December 20, however, the battered American forces were still somewhat short of that objective in several areas....
4. Into the Bulge
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The rumor going around on December 18 that the 26th Division had been alerted for a move was an example of how rapidly rumors can circulate in such an environment, since the decision to send the Yankee Division to Luxembourg had only been made that same morning. This had come in response to a military crisis of the first magnitude....
5. Victory in the Ardennes
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In the III Corps sector the offensive launched on January 4 against the German salient southeast of Bastogne had encountered such stiff resistance and made so little progress that the attack had been temporarily suspended on January 6. The 26th Division had maintained defensive positions while the veteran 90th Division, then assembling in the corps area, prepared to attack on its left. With the 90th assuming...
6. The Saarlautern Interlude [IncludesImage Plates]
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At the conclusion of the Ardennes campaign the Third Army was stretched along a front of nearly a hundred miles, from the vicinity of St. Vith, Belgium, to Saarlautern, Germany (see Map 6). In the north, with hardly a pause, the trio of Third Army corps that had participated in clearing the Bulge pressed on across the Our River into the rugged...
7. The Drive to the Rhine
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...spending an uneasy interlude in the cellars of suburban Saarlautern, eventshad been transpiring slightly to the north that were to lead to a sweepingAllied breakthrough to the Rhine. In mid-January the front covered by theThird Army's XX Corps stretched southwesterly along the west bank of theMoselle River from the point of its confluence with the Saar River to approx ...
8. The Race across Germany
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By the last week of March the entire line of the Rhine--and with it the final German defensive barrier--had been breached by the Allied forces. On the extreme flanks, the First Canadian Army in the Netherlands and General Patch's Seventh Army in the far south of Germany continued to meet strong resistance. Elsewhere it was clear that...
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While the men ofG Company relaxed in Czechoslovakia, quietly celebrating the end of the war against Germany, Lt. Lee Otts was more actively celebrating the occasion in Circencester, England, and preparing to leave for the States the next day. In contrast to many who went unwounded but who nevertheless bear the unseen scars of war, the...
Appendix I: The Reckoning
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G Company arrived on Utah Beach on September 8, 1944, with a full complement of 187 enlisted men and six officers. By V-E Day, eight months later, 625 men had served in its ranks. Accounting for what happened to those young Americans on the battlefields of Europe provides an indication of the human costs of G Company's war. Following...
Appendix II: Roll Call
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From the start of this project we believed that there should be an appendix containing short biographical sketches of the G Company veterans mentioned most prominently in the two journals. The gap between conception and execution is a wide one, however, when it comes to tracking down men whose last known address was of 1945 vintage....
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Publication Year: 1998