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Book and Souvenir Thoughts, "The Long Road of War" -Clyde from Carolina- 10/06

Book and Souvenir Thoughts, "The Long Road of War"


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Topic author: Clyde from Carolina
Subject: Book and Souvenir Thoughts, "The Long Road of War"
Posted on: 10/24/2006 10:53:31 AM
Message:
Based on the recommendations from members, I ordered a little gem of a combat memoir a few weeks ago and just finished reading it.

The book is "The Long Road of War" by James W. Johnston and students of the Pacific War would probably enjoy it. I really found it fascinating. The author was a machine gunner in the 1st Marine Division, 5th Marine Regiment at Cape Gloucester(New Britain), Peleliu, and Okinawa. Johnston tells an unvarnished story, warts and all, about the horrors of combat as witnessed by a man in the line companies for an extended time in combat.

One interesting thing is his account of the nearly forgotten Campaign on New Britain/ Cape Gloucester, which was a four month ordeal in some of the worst jungle conditions our troops encountered in the South Pacific. While not approaching the horrific casualties of Peleliu or Okinawa, he contends New Britain was certainly miserable and terrifying duty and deserves to be remembered. I agree.

Johnston makes use of his letters home to his folks, and they are quite revealing. From a wide-eyed and relatively innocent kid, he evolves into a hardened and fatalistic veteran who really doesn't expect to survive the next "Blitz." In one of his letters home after the nightmare of Peleliu, he apologizes for not sending home any souvenirs. He states he had plenty of opportunities to collect sabres, pistols, and so forth, but after losing so many good friends there he just didn't want any reminders of the place. He writes of watching the ugly little island recede into the horizon as he finally left it onboard ship, and fervently wishing to never see it again.

The book contains some of the best musings and reflections on the psychology of the combat soldier that I have seen. Johnston writes that he never realized when he signed his enlistment papers that he was making a committment for life, whether he survived the war or not. He also vents against the stupid and asinine military heirarchy, the less than perfect aspects of the Marine Corps, etc. It's a very honest and sometimes scathing examination of his time in the "Corps." Johnston admits that sometimes it was only the excllent men and NCOs he served with that restored his faith in the Marine Corps, and what it means to him is far removed from the spit and polish of the parde ground.

I recommend this memoir without reservation. My only beef is that it was too short. At only 171 pages, I wish it was longer. The author admits it was painful to write, so I won't begrudge him its brevity.


Replies:

Reply author: whitesharkseeker
Replied on: 10/24/2006 1:05:02 PM
Message:
As a Peleliu historian and avid collector of all books relating to personal memoirs of that battle, I agree with your review of Johnston's excellent book. It definately ranks up there with Sledge's WTOB, Davis' Marine at War, and Hunt's Coral Comes High. I had the pleasure of meeting several former Marines who served with J. Johnston during New Britain and Peleliu who corroberated many of his reflections of the battles. Thanks for your thoughts and book review!

-Eric

Reply author: dean B
Replied on: 10/24/2006 4:08:08 PM
Message:
Any Idea what Btl,Co etc he served in the 5th Marines?
Dean

Reply author: whitesharkseeker
Replied on: 10/24/2006 6:50:58 PM
Message:
He served in Easy Company, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines.

-Eric

Reply author: dean B
Replied on: 10/24/2006 8:28:24 PM
Message:
Close! My grandfather was Co. E 1st Bn 5th Marines at Peleliu.
Dean

Reply author: whitesharkseeker
Replied on: 10/24/2006 11:52:08 PM
Message:
Hi Dean,

You may want to clarify that. "E" company is alway in the Second Battalion. The first battalion is A,B,C company. Second E, F, G company and third I, L, K company regardless of regiment.

Hope this helps, Eric

Reply author: dean B
Replied on: 10/25/2006 05:37:06 AM
Message:
My mistake,
It was Co. "F" 2ND BN even closer!
Dean

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