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James M. Fenwick

War Vignette

(September 1948)

From New International, Vol.14 No.7, September 1948, pp.222.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

Company Commander
by Charles MacDonald
Infantry Journal Press, Washington, 1947, 277 pp., $3.00.

Here is the best portrayal of the war on an individual level that this reviewer has read, real or fictional.

It is the actual story of I and G Companies of the 23rd Infantry as told by the company command, a young man of 22 at the time. It begins in early October 1944 when I Company moves into a static position in the Siegfried Line, and ends in May 1945 in Radcice, Czechoslovakia.

The tale is observed and recorded with remarkable care. It is highly evocative; the prose is functional; there is a minimum of bathos.

It’s all there: the thousand and one worries of the company commander – the overstretched company front, the short rounds from the artillery, the company strength, the phone linen; the self-doubt; the common experiences; the menace of the fir forests; the query “My god! what was that?”; the relief when the P-47s come over for a strafe job; the shooting of German prisoners; the endless weariness; the three-day rest before being committed again ...

To know the war as it was at the irreducible end of the chain of command, this is the book.

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