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

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  861 ratings  ·  81 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, 328 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published 2003)
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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...more
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
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
Lynn Pribus
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,...more
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
Mark Mortensen
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...more
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
Peggy Haymes
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...more
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...more
Phenomenal book about a small town in the hills of Virginia who paid more the cost of freedom in a single day than any other city in the history of our nation. I know I will next visit Bedford and the National D-Day memorial that is there with an even greater sense of appreciation.
Sue Tretter
I enjoy histories of real people, salt-of-the-earth people about whom books are rarely written. This is such a book.
In another author's hands, the book would have been different, perhaps more likeable for some. But for me, Alex Kershaw's staging and pacing were excellent. Trying to recount so many lives over so many years was very challenging, I'm sure. There were times when I felt a little discombobulated, not unlike the Bedford Boys themselves who must have felt lost, and often were told noth...more
Cyndy Ranzau
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.
Glen Templeton
Great personal account of a small town and it's WWII sacrifice. Couldn't put it down.
It was several weeks into our research before we knew our silent hero's unit. Adi had chosen Ssgt Maurice Miller Williams after considering a soldier who lived in a community relatively close to our own. While the census data provided a rough sketch of his family tree, his age and living arrangements, along with a few occupational insights, it was one of you who provided the online archive to the 29th Infantry Division that led to our discovery: Maurice was part of A Company, 1st Battalion, 116t...more
Marc Baldwin
I gave this book only three stars simply because of the writing. It's not bad, just not written with much of a flow that creates a attention-keeping storyline. The story of these young men, all from Bedford, Virginia, who were the first American troops to go ashore at Normandy, is awe-inspiring. Their sacrifice and dedication to duty in the face of certain death is something to be admired. It's a shame that so many from a single town died in the same place on the same day, but that was the natur...more
Paul Lunger
June 6, 1944 (D-Day) will always be known as one of the greatest invasions in the history of the world & as the turning point of WWII. Alex Kershaw's "The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice" tells the story of Bedford, Virginia which lost more young men in the Normandy invasion per resident than any other city in America. He introduces us to the men of the 29th Division, Company A (also known as the Bedford Boys) by following their story from their training in North C...more
Tom Darrow
I really enjoyed this book. I've read some other books about D-day, but this one was very personal. It not only told the story of the troops, their training in England, the invasion and their lives afterwards, it also told the story about the impact of the war on the people left at home during and after the war.

The story begins with many of the Bedford boys joining a National Guard unit during the years of the Great Depression in order to earn some extra money for their family. When WWII began,...more
Jenny Karraker
Each year on the anniversary of D-Day, I see articles in the paper and hear on the news broadcasts about the sacrifices made that day on the beaches. This book showed me another side of that great invasion as the author tells the story of Company 29 and the many soldiers from the little town of Bedford,VA who participated, most of them dying as that first wave of men attempted to cross the beach and attack the German defenders. It was interesting to learn that these boys had signed up as Nationa...more
I found this book in the bargain pile at Barnes and Noble. I was curious to read it because I had visited the town of Bedford a year ago on the recommendation of a colleague due to the town's significance and tragic history. On D-Day, Bedford lost 19 of its own men, more residents per capita any other American community and now is home to the National D-Day memorial. This book reads less like a story and more like a quick encyclopedia run down of as many individuals and families associated with...more
Some many stories about invasions leave out the fact of who these people were and how much they actually sacrificed.This book really shows you who these young men were. You get attached to the character and feel like it is a personal lost when they die. This book really helped me understand the war. I am a teenager and this helped me realize that these boys were around the same ages of my best friend, that are guys. A lot of the characters had a lot of the same characteristics of my friends and...more
Jessie Gussman
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
This harrowing history of the devastation caused by war had me riveted- to use a book-review cliche, I could not put the book down!

37 young men from tiny Bedford VA enlisted in the National Guard during the Depression for the $1 per meeting wage. On June 6, 1944, as part of the first D-Day wave, 22 of them never made it off Omaha Beach.

Most of us have seen the movie or read Saving Private Ryan. This book addresses the carnage at home, as well, when a whole generation of a small town's citizenry...more
Even though the general outcome of this story is pretty obvious, the insight into each man's personality, his circle of friends, and his relatives, makes this a pretty compelling read. The last few chapters detailing the response of the town of Bedford are extremely interesting, and in my case, makes me want to visit and feel of their community.

As we Americans watch this generation gradually pass away, it is perfectly obvious that stories such as this are going to become less and less common in...more
Marsha Thompson
interesting to learn about the town that lost so many young men during WWII. I liked the tone and having grown up in North Carolina with many relatives in Virginia....I heard the voices and could feel the emotions in this book.
A heart-wrenching study of the lives and deaths of the men from a National Guard company based in a small VA town. Kershaw does an outstanding job of bringing to light the experiences of these men and their families and neighbors in light of their horrific experiences on D-Day. The key insight for me was the gap between the men's deaths and the notification of their families - about a month of terrible waiting.
Kenneth Bratt
This book goes into detail about the men/boys who served in WW II (actually assaulted Omaha Beach on D-Day) from Bedford, VA. They were all part of a National Guard (Company A) the majority who had joined just prior to WW II for the extra money to help their families out. Bedford lost more men than any other place in the country (19 killed) and it is a heart wrenching story, made all the more so by their young age.

I liked this book a lot because it again explains war in a manner that shows its...more
The story of nineteen young men from one town who perished in the first wave of men landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and of three more boys who died in subsequent days. At first I thought this was just another D-Day account that didn't offer anything new, but in the end I found the individual stories very moving and the description of the invasion powerful. Especially poignant was the focus on the lives of the families and loved ones back home in Bedford. I was especially struck by t...more
Good grief!!!! This is a must read for every American. And bring a box of tissues!!! The whole box! What an amazing unknowingly sacrifice this town made. Good to know this can never happen again. The military changing deployment policies to prevent this tragedy is awesome. I have a new perspective and admiration of these honorable boys who landed first on June 6, 1944, and who would never come home. This book changed me. It was the spark that ignited my I-have-to-know-more about D-Day. These Bed...more
Annie Crouch
Wonderful book. The story is so moving and heartbreaking.
Jill Campbell
Very good non-fiction book about WW11 and the men/boys who gave their lives on D-Day.
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Can you forgive a historical book for historical inaccuracies? 1 5 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, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is The Liberator. He lives in Massachusetts.
More about Alex Kershaw...
The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of Legendary Submarine and her Courageous Crew The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II

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