By Charles B. MacDonald
Hardcover in dustjacket, 300 pages
Published by Infantry Journal Press, Washington, 1947
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.0 inches
Company Commander is the memoir of Captain Charles MacDonald, the 22 year old commander of Company I and later Company G of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in Europe during WWII. MacDonald wastes no time with this book, it begins with him moving his company to occupy static defensive positions within the Siegfried Line. His description of life in a bunker under intermittent enemy shelling is very visceral, it was a relief when the company was shifted to another position.
MacDonald’s company was one of the units thrust into the effort to stop the German advance during the Battle of the Bulge, where they were overrun by German armor. “Fog of war” is an inadequate description for the state of disorganization within the American units in the immediate aftermath, and there Captain MacDonald is wounded.
After recovering from his wound MacDonald is assigned to command Company G within the same regiment. By this time the Allies are advancing into Germany, and the Americans are on the attack. Village after village is assaulted in turn. Eventually they find themselves on the outskirts of Leipzig where the local situation becomes confused and one of MacDonald’s platoon leaders presents him with a German officer and asks, “Want to capture Leipzig?” What follows is one of the more unusual wartime anecdotes which you will read. No spoilers here, but MacDonald’s adventures in Leipzig are surreal and often humorous.
I am a big fan of historical accounts from the perspective of the people who experienced the events first-hand, and this book certainly fits that description. Leading one hundred and fifty men into combat at 22 years of age is an experience worthy of reflection. Recommended without hesitation.
One note, MacDonald is the spelling throughout the book, but the dustjacket spells his name McDonald.