Normandy to Nazi Surrender
by Colonel Van H. Slayden with Patrecia Slayden Hollis
I’m drawn to WWII books produced by a veteran with a child or grandchild. With this one, I was expecting a war memoir, but the years from Normandy to the Nazi surrender is only about the middle third of the book.
The best part is Slayden’s backstories, which are added as annexes: Early 1900s Life of a Tennessee Country Boy and his memories of the struggle to attend college during the Great Depression. The first chapters are also fascinating, about ending up in the military and details of flying early planes rushing into primitive areas in order to defend the Panama Canal Zone.
Slayden became obsessed with searching for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine when stationed in the area in 1942. He must have talked about it for decades, because later in life, he and seven family members (adult children and one of their spouses) packed into the area, even camping several nights to reach the area, to search the area where he’d filed an official claim on behalf of. There are several more miscellaneous annexes at the end, a list of sources, and a glossary.
His daughter, Patrecia Slayden Hollis , with whom he worked on the book, was born during the war, July 4, 1944.
Her LinkedIn page.
LST-388: A World War II Journal
by Robert von der Osten with his daughter Barbara von der Osten
Through his journal entries, von der Osten takes us with him to war, from his training days in the newly created amphibious force, to practice beachings on the Chesapeake Bay; from the ports of North Africa and the United Kingdom, to the hostile shores of Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy. All the while serving as a radioman aboard this new kind of ship, the landing ship, tank.
I was amazed to learn that the US had shipped over 1000 locomotives and about 20,000 rail cars to the UK. Railroad tracks were welded to the deck and ramp of LST-388, and it made 29 round trips between England and France carrying rail cars. This is not only the story of a young sailor and his corner of the massive war, but the story of a ship, taking it to its eventual fate after the war. Robert von der Osten eventually served on the NYPD, then taught high school and college. Robert didn’t get his book finished, but his youngest daughter Barbara did. It has several good pictures in it and is a real treasure.
This is a wonderful memoir on so many levels. Robert von der Osten was able to keep a journal during his time of service. He and his journal not only survived the war, but his ship did. LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) were new. Von der Osten, the son of a WWI veteran, became a radioman on the new USS LST-388, which was commissioned in late 1942. The ship hauled equipment and men to North Africa, the UK, and made landings on Sicily, Salerno, and many trips to the beaches of Normandy.
I was surprised at how much traveling he was able to do when he had time off, how easily this gregarious sailor collected friends, and how grueling their days could be.
Barbara’s Amazon Author Page. LinkedIn