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Nudge Blue

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Nudge Blue

A Rifleman's Chronicle of World War II 
  • by Donald E. Lavender
    • Merriam Press World War 2 Memoir Series
      • Seventh Edition 2012
      • 140 6x9-inch p-ages
      • 26 photos
      • 1 illustration
      • 2 maps
Lavender was a member of Company I, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, originally arriving as a replacement in early October 1944 in the Hürtgen Forest.
There are a lot of stories about the war. Some have been made into movies. If you are looking for sensationalism, you won't find it here.
If you have an interest in what war was like to a 20-year-old in the Infantry, Nudge Blue comes close to describing that experience.
The combat portion of this story was written directly from notes accumulated during the actual fighting. In the over 50 years since, facts about places and unit action have been verified to assure accuracy.
It includes action in several places that are famous—the Hürtgen Forest, the Bulge, the Rhine River crossing at Remagen and contact with the Russians on the Elbe River.
The military experience prior to combat, the post-war situation in Europe and commentary about war, in the appendices, were added later.
Veterans who were in I Company of the 39th Infantry have commented favorably about Nudge Blue acknowledging it to be a faithful description of their personal experience.
Lavender's experiences in combat make for fascinating, insightful reading, and an excellent companion to the late Bob Baldridge's Victory Road, showing what it was like to be an infantryman in the 9th Division.
  • Preface
  • Nudge Blue
  • Prologue
  • The Fatal Forest
  • Blocking the Bulge
  • From River to River
  • Bridgehead Battle
  • On to the East
  • Deutschland Kaput
  • Epilogue
  • Appendices
    • Writing Nudge Blue
    • At the Convenience of the Government
    • Observations on the Battle for Germany
    • The Hürtgen Forest
    • Our Part in the Bulge
    • Bridge Anniversary
    • The Decision Not to Go to Berlin
    • Facts and Quotes
    • What is There About War
The Author

Donald E. Lavender was drafted as a private in 1943. Following Infantry basic, he was an aviation cadet for six months, but was returned to the Infantry with several thousand cadets when the demand for Infantry replacements exceeded the need for flight personnel.
He joined the 9th Infantry Division, 39th Regiment, Company I, as a rifleman in the Hürtgen Forest in October 1944.
He fought with that unit in the Bulge and crossed the Rhine River at Remagen before the bridge fell.
Having survived two campaigns, he was promoted to Sergeant and rifle squad leader, and later met the Russians on the Elbe.
His combat rank enabled him to receive a direct commission in the Reserve as a Second Lieutenant. During his thirty years in the Reserve, he advanced to the rank of Colonel.
Author's Reserve service, December 1949 to February 1980:
  • 1949 December: Enlisted as Staff Sergeant. Applied for Commission on basis of combat experience and graduation from college
  • 1950 May: Commissioned Second Lieutenant, Infantry. Assigned to combat engineer battalion as company officer. Trained at summer camp, driving D-7 Cats, building bridges, etc.
  • 1952: Assigned to 105-mm artillery battery. Trained at summer camp, laid the battery etc.
  • 1953: Assigned to 103rd Division. Headquarters company commander
  • 1954: Summer camp with regular Army unit at Fort Riley
  • 1956: Assigned to 103rd Division Troop Information & Education Section
  • 1958: Promoted to Captain, became division information officer
  • 1962: Promoted to Major, still division information officer
  • 1963: Mobilization designation assignment to Selective Service System
  • 1969: Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Selective Service
  • 1974: Promoted to Colonel, Unit Commander, Selective Service
  • 1980: Retired from Active Reserve 
I, and my father's family know little of my father's older brother, John McMillan, who was killed 12 December 1944. He was a member of India Company, 39th Infantry Regiment, which Donald served in. From his book I was trying to determine exactly where India Company was fighting before the Bulge offensive in hopes of better learning where/how my uncle died. Donald's timeline becomes a little fuzzy around this time, when he was apparently serving as part of a battalion recon party but I'd like to see if he has any notes or recollections as to where the Company was seeing action in and around 12 December 1944. The book is fascinating. I haven't been able to put it down. It gives a sobering account of what life was like as a rifleman during the fall and early winter of 1944 in the Hürtgen Forest in the 39th. I hope that I may be able to learn more about the 39th operations during that time so that I can include that information in a book I am writing regarding my father's family.
Lewis McMillan, Huntersville, NC

A very good book about the author's experiences in World War II. Of interest was that he was a replacement rather than a soldier who arrived part of an organization. The author talks a lot about what it was like to be a soldier, but not a lot about combat in particular. He also discusses what it was like being in occupied Germany after the war was over. The latter parts of the book discuss his opinions on some matters like his writing of the book, the decision not to go to Berlin and so on. Those sections are less interesting.
Daniel Carey

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