Authored by Stanley Weintraub, Narrated by Patrick Cullen
Audiobook, 5 hours and 28 minutes
Published by Blackstone Audio
11 Days in December is set in the Battle of the Bulge, starting in the days immediately before the Germans launched their Ardennes offensive and ending at Christmas. This book is not the history of an individual unit nor a description of the overall campaign, instead it is a series of individual anecdotes set within the context of the battle.
Many of these are from Generals and senior staff, likely due to the preservation of their correspondence. It was surprising how many senior Allied officers (and their extensive staffs) were planning on taking extended Christmas holidays in Paris. Many of their letters center around political intrigue and preserving or enhancing their reputations. For their part, the Allied leadership was caught completely unaware by the German offensive.
At the level of the common soldier the period was characterized by the cold and lack of logistical support. Allied airpower was grounded by the weather, and the troops lacked basics such as ammunition and food, many lacked proper winter clothing. Often it proved impossible to evacuate the wounded and medical supplies were scarce.
By telling the story of the Battle of the Bulge through individual anecdotes the author has sacrificed any semblance of continuity. The narrative jumps around from place to place, unit to unit. Loose ends are not tied up. This makes it hard to put all the little snippets into context. If the reader is not already familiar with the progress of the battle it would be helpful to have the Osprey Campaign 115 & 145 books handy. However, if you are looking for personal perspectives this book can provide them.
Yoshiro Hirose was credited with shooting down the first Chinese aircraft during the Sino-Japanese War on 19SEP37. He held various commands during the war, eventually returning to Japan to become an instructor at the Akeno Army Flying School. During the last year of the war B-29 raids became more and more frequent, and the instructor cadre were also tasked with flying interception missions. On 22DEC44 Hirose intercepted a B-29 formation over Nagoya, destroying a B-29 by ramming, for his tenth victory.
Major Togo Saito was the commander of the 85th Sentai stationed in Canton, China. He was in command from November 1943 through the end of the war, an extremely long tenure. The color of the tail markings in the 85th Sentai followed the pattern of Blue for the headquarters flight, White for the 1st Chutai, Red for the 2nd, and Yellow for the 3rd.
Yesterday was the 2022 Cincinnati IPMS Model Show, which was held at the Tri-State Warbird Museum for the second year. It’s a really great venue for a show, lots of room plus you’re looking at the models with actual warbirds as a backdrop! This show was in IPMS Region 4, a similar distance for me from last Saturday’s show in Hobart, Indiana but in the opposite direction. It was another beautiful Fall day, sunny and perfect for travel. The museum staff opened up the hanger doors to let the breeze in. Food was available from a barbeque truck which everyone agreed was excellent. I managed to find some great deals from the vendors. As always, the highlight was talking with fellow modelers and seeing all the great work on display. The quality and quantity of the builds has definitely improved since Covid, proof that there is a silver lining to even the most dire of circumstances. Here is a sample from the show.
WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT― Thomas Jefferson