Well I finished a another book related to the Band of Brothers—members of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The story is about two paratroopers who originated from Philadelphia: “Wild Bill” Guarnere and “Babe” Heffron. With each story, I seem to get to know each of the members of Easy Company more in depth. This story added pieces to the puzzle and muddied others. Parts of their story didn’t match some of the other stories. Nonetheless, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story was enjoyable from cover to cover.
“Wild Bill” Guarnere and “Babe” Heffron along with Robyn Post wrote Brothers in Battle. The story is interesting in that neither one of these Easy Company members were with the company through the entire war. Yet, between them, they saw the whole war. Wild Bill was an original member of Easy Company, but his wartime service came to a halt in the forest the Bastogne. Babe Heffron became a member of Easy Company after the jump into Normandy. Heffron was one of the replacements often referred to in the Band of Brothers series. Wild Bill and Babe became friends because they shared something in common—they were both from South Philly. As a matter of fact, they lived mere blocks away from each other but never met until the war. They shared common friends.
Brothers in Battle is 296 pages long and arranged into 11 chapters. Wild Bill led the discussion for some of the chapters while others focused on Babe. They shared the discussion for most of the chapters. Post did a great job distinguishing who was the primary narrator for different parts of the book.
The first chapter focuses on their lives in South Philly and what that environment did to prepare them for being a paratrooper in World War II. Each of them learn the ways of the street. These skills later help them in battle torn Europe.
A great part of the book talked about their training, various campaigns, and surprisingly, what they did during their off time. They were quite frank about what they thought about different countries they fought in, traveled through, and lived in.
In this book, they spoke in more detail about their return to the United States and South Philly. What I thought was an important section was how Wild Bill was able to adapt in spite of his missing leg.
They also talked about returning to Europe and seeing old battlefields. Additionally, they devoted chapters to the creation of the miniseries, Band of Brothers. They highlighted how their annual reunions contributed to the creation of that series.
I enjoyed reading Brothers in Battle and would recommend it to others who have enjoyed the Band of Brothers series. My first exposure to Easy Company was watching the series. As I read this book I could hear the voices of the those characters. I believe that the series captured the essence of these gentlemen quite well. What struck me is the frankness in which they told their story and shared their opinions. This book added to my appreciation of who Easy Company was and what they accomplished.
Related Reading and Viewing
- Book Review: Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest
- Book Review: Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
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