Knights of Freedom: With the Hell on Wheels Armored Division in World War II; A Story in Photos

Stackpole. Jan. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9780811773768. pap. $29.95. MILITARY HISTORY
Retired Lt. Col. Brems (1919–2014) was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941. This book, cowritten with son Fred G. Brems, is his son’s homage to him, whom he considers to be his hero. He also pays tribute to other war veterans by merging his father’s military experiences with multiple accounts from his friends and those found in official documents. He kept a diary, sent letters home, and took snapshots—600 photos are found in this book—everywhere he went, which enhances the stories. These sources yield an absorbing narrative of what a soldier’s life was like then. Shortly after D-Day, he was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division in France. He commanded his tank platoon until the end of the war. As an officer, his view was wider and more strategic, but the narrative shows he never lost sight of the unit he led. While he doesn’t downplay casualties and hardships, the book indicates that he never doubted that the war was right and necessary. Rescuing prisoners from near death in labor camps was a high point for him.
VERDICT An excellent, moving depiction that captures the defining period of a soldier’s life. Strongly recommended.
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