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The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,715 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Gripping... It's through books like this that those brave men, who fought so others could be free, live on. --"Dallas Morning News"
ebook, 321 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Da Capo Press (first published 2003)
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A.L. Sowards
I enjoyed this book and its focus on a relatively small group of men and the families they left behind. Most of them joined the national guard during the depression for the extra money. Company A was from small-town Bedford and included cousins, brothers, and friends. They were federalized before the US got into the war, and after Pearl Harbor they were in for the remainder of the conflict. After extensive training, they hit Omaha beach on D-day as part of the first wave. Not everyone died, but ...more
“Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor . . . They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate . . . . They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father and receive them . . .” – President Roosevelt, New York Times, June 7, 1944, as quoted in “The Bedford Boys”

No matter how many books on war I read, nothing compares to Alex Kershaw’s compassion, hu
Jul 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and sad book. My great uncle, Gordon Henry White, Jr. was one of the Bedford Boys. He and other men from Bedford were in the first company to hit the beaches on D-Day. He died that day along with most of the men in his company. This was a great glimpse into the lives of these families and the small town that suffered so much. It gives first hand accounts from the few survivors of the initial attack and talks to the families about what it was like for them before, during, and after the wa ...more
'Aussie Rick'
Dec 03, 2009 'Aussie Rick' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-military, ww2

A very good and interesting account of a group of men from A Company, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, who were part of the first wave at Omaha Beach in 1944. I found the book easy to read and captivating, following these men from enlistment and training to the beaches at Normandy. A deeply touching book about a bunch of normal people from the small town of Bedford and what happened to them and their families, highly recommended.
Mark Mortensen
Jul 16, 2012 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
I can easily relate to little All-American town of Bedford, VA as when I received my draft number for the Vietnam War, the population of my hometown was slightly less than Bedford’s 3,000 residents during World War II. The Bedford community was devastated when 19 young men were killed on D-Day, June 6, 1944, while taking control of the strategic sandy shore along Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

The male youths, who gravitated to become members of the local National Guard, were caught up in the s
4 Stars for a somber, hard hitting story about one of the first units to hit Omaha beach on D-Day. If you have seen "Saving Private Ryan", you will get an idea of what they met at the water's edge. To read about the men and their families, before, during and after brought it so close to home. I recently drove by Bedford, VA but didn't want to stop until I read this book. I'll be back that way again soon and will stop to really appreciate the National D-Day Memorial.
Shane Gower
Sep 27, 2014 Shane Gower rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sad, compelling, and important. The story this book tells is infinitely relatable to anyone who lived in a small town in America. My Grandfather served in the war and grew up in a very similarly sized town in Maine. I remember hearing their stories of how the war impacted the town. I can't imagine the impact on the town if 19 of its own had died in one day. This is what happened to Bedford, VA and why the author chose the title he did. I recently travelled to Bedford, VA to visit the National D- ...more
Jessie Gussman
Jan 21, 2014 Jessie Gussman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book on D-Day, focusing mainly on the men from one town in Virginia who happened to be some of the first to step, and fall, on the French sand. Well documented with an extensive list of notes at the end, it is not an easy book to read, because of the sacrifice these men and this town made. The author included a description of D-Day in Bedford, VA that was a blessing to learn about. If it's true that there are no atheists in fox holes, then there are no atheists who have sons, brot ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Madisson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the amazing story about the boys from the small American town of Bedford, Virginia who were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division. They were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day.

Alex Kershaw writes of the experiences and sacrifices, not only of the boys over there, but of their families and friends on the homefront as well. This account really brought the US Infantry's side of D-Day to life for me and the last half of t
steven zisk
Jun 24, 2015 steven zisk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History of D Day

Outstanding reading for those who love history. The unimaginable sacrifices of one small American community, and how this one day in history affected their lives, not only on that day, but for hundreds of days for years and years to come. God bless America, and the sacrifices that made my life possible.
Sep 08, 2015 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII buffs, D-Day buffs, Americans
Shelves: history
Bedford, Virginia was a small community just outside of Roanoke, with nothing special about it compared to other communities of the pre-WWII era. Loving families and young men who joined the CCC and the National Guard to earn money during the Depression. Farmers and factory workers and folks just trying to get by.

D-Day changed everything for Bedford, and the reverberations are still being felt by the people who were living there then, and who are descended from them.

Bedford is the community in
Ted Duke
Oct 22, 2014 Ted Duke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tori Duke
Recommended to Ted by: my wife
If you know nothing of the sacrifices of the young people (and their families) who served during WWII protecting our freedoms, YOU MUST read this book. The soldiers, the nurses, the families suffered losses even if they survived. If you know of that sacrifice you will still learn more.

This book was hard for me to read at times. A well told true story of families and young ladies losing the loves of their lives. What was harder, a wife or girlfriend losing their love,or a sibling losing their bro
May 01, 2009 Mahlon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I would have thought that since the publication of Stephen Ambrose's authoritative D-Day, subsequent author's would have little new to say about the epic battle that turned the tide of WWII in Europe. Luckily for us Alex Kershaw has managed to find a new angle.

The Bedford Boys focuses on Company A of the 116th infantry regiment, which was among the first units to land on D-Day. Company A was largely composed of residents of Bedford, VA. population 3000 in 1944, 22 Bedford Boys didn't return From
Jul 14, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this book in a Denver hotel room during a fit of insomnia - lucky me. This is a moving story of the young men of Bedford, VA who joined the national guard to earn money and wound up spearheading the Allied invastion at Normandy. Literally, the first to land at Omaha beach, the extraordinary casualty rate among Company A of the 29th Infantry Division made Bedford's sacrifice, according to Brit-cum-American author Alex Kershaw, the greatest of any American town, which is largely why the Nati ...more
Dec 22, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two
I've read countless books about World War Two and in particular D-Day. My grandfather was there in the days after the invasion and I've spent my life trying to fill in the blanks of his story. This book is special, it doesn't spend as much time on the failures and triumphs of "The Longest Day", but instead it focuses on the human story of war. If you take the death, destruction, and senselessness out of war, and only focus on the human spirit as it relates to it, the human war story is a marvelo ...more
May 28, 2015 Lanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devastating, yet poignant story about the small town of Bedford, VA which proportionately lost more sons on D-Day than any other town in all of America. Tragic lessons were learned from WWII. Never allow brothers to serve in the same Company or on the same Ship (the Sullivan brothers) and never allow the National Guard from a small town to serve in the same Company to fight (and die) together leaving a small town bereft.
Jun 18, 2015 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every person in America should read this in order to understand the reality of war, the ultimate price these guys paid for freedom. They were all heroes.
Nov 09, 2014 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read this book about the Bedford Boys ---- well, you should. One of Alex Kershaw's BEST on how WW11 broke the hearts of a single community in Virginia.
Lynn Pribus
Nov 26, 2012 Lynn Pribus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impressively researched and nicely told. Bedford, Virginia, a small town in sight of the Blue Ridge of southwestern Virginia, had the highest per capita WWII casualty rate of any town in the world.

The book starts by describing the "bedford Boys" casual, sparse, rural way of life along with stories about their families and sweethearts. Most of the boys joined the National Guard 29th Division -- which covered much of central and western Virginia from Charlottesville (where I live now) to Roanoke,
Nick Brett
Nov 03, 2014 Nick Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bedford was a small town in Virginia who lost 22 men in the Normandy landings, nineteen of them died within seconds of hitting the beach and three more were killed in the next few days. This is a powerful and emotional look at that sacrifice and reality of war.

The US came into the war late, Pearl Harbor being the point of no return. National Guard units, such as the one at Bedford, started training for war, were shipped to the UK and it so happened that the men from Bedford, as part of the 116th
Jun 11, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-military
During the late 1930s, many of the young men of Bedford, VA, a small rural town to the west of the state, joined the National Guard to earn extra money (a dollar a day) for their services. Called up in 1940 for a one year stint (the US had not yet entered the War), Pearl Harbor hit - they were activated and sent to England to become a part Company A, 116th Regiment, 29th Division. Their role from the outset was to become a part of Overlord, the Allied invasion of Germany. They were superbly trai ...more
Peggy Haymes
Apr 29, 2013 Peggy Haymes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With family living in Bedford, VA I'd heard the story of why that small town was chosen as the site of the D-Day Memorial. It was a town with the sad distinction as having lost more young men per capita on D-Day than nay other American town.

I'd heard the story but didn't really get the impact. Through this book, I was introduced to the stories of the young men from Bedford who served in a single company, chosen that day to spearhead the attack. I also learned the stories of girlfriends and fianc
Jul 07, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive look at the town with by far the highest WWII casualty ratio (i.e. sacrifice) of any town in the world, including Germany and the (former) Soviet Union. Most of the soldiers that died were in the same unit, on the 1st wave of attacks at the worst section of Omaha Beach on D-Day.

This book also depicts the heroic service and dedication of a National Guard unit that earned a stellar reputation in combat during WWII. The US Army had many great units during the war, and some not so g
Howard Rigdon
Aug 10, 2014 Howard Rigdon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very sad and interesting book. The author Alex Bradshaw did a good job in including the condition of how the war was and what soldiers were leaving at home to protect their country even if it meant dying on the battlefield. I also thought he did a good job in describing both post and pre lives in detail of those of the Bedford boys and their families back home in Bedford. This book showed many firsthand accounts of Operation Overlord which made the book more detailed and intrigui ...more
Jim Burke
May 22, 2014 Jim Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and meticulously researched, "The Bedford Boys" is a World War II story that will stay with you for a very long time. It is a deeply moving privilege getting to know these brave boys and their families. In a time of supreme self-sacrifice, the staggering loss this small American town endured is truly heartbreaking. It is a story that had to be told, and it does a great honor to that extraordinary generation.
Jan 15, 2015 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful read. Author does a good job of telling the story through the words of those who lived it, while not making any specific commentary on the war and decisions that brought these men to their fate. He made it about them and their sacrifice. I don't live too far from Bedford and after reading this, I'd definitely like to pay my respects at the D-Day Memorial. Really drives home the importance of memorials, memoirs, and books like these. We must never forget.
Aug 25, 2014 Thezoo232 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is so moving and humbling. If you like history and admire the power of community, give this a try. I am definitely thinking of USA WWII losses and appreciating my freedoms. (Thanks boys) If you live in NoVa/ Washington DC area, go visit the DDay Memorial in person in Bedford. VA. Beautiful drive & endearing town and incredible memorial.
Aug 28, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such and incredibly sad story but at the same time very uplifting on the sacrifices made by so many young men for the good of all. Everyone needs to hear this story and be grateful to those who have gone before us to ensure our lives were better.
Oct 23, 2013 Cyndy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, wwii
Alex Kershaw does an amazing job of bringing the lives of these boys to life. This book is inspirational and speaks to the generation of patriots. I highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the greatest generation and their lives during WWII.
Dean Parry
Another good book by Alex Kershaw. Captured the personal stories of many. They initially just wanted to earn a few bucks in those hard times but when it became real they excelled. The ending shows what a huge impact it made on the town.
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Can you forgive a historical book for historical inaccuracies? 1 10 Jun 11, 2013 02:35PM  
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Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, The Liberator, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is Avenue of Spies. He lives in Massachusetts.
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