November 1944: The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division fought their way across France and assaulted the Germans in Holland, securing the highway all the way up to "The Island." After the bloody battles of Operation MARKET-GARDEN, the troopers finally are given a break - R&R in France, a time to slip off to see loved ones or simply get drunk and have a good time, as airborne troopers are wont to do.
Slowly, the wounded from Normandy and Holland trickle back to duty at Mourmelon, the rest center in France, joined by battle-tested units from the Italian campaigns, also due for a rest, and replacements for the many casualties.
Many of our old friends from MISSING STICKS and ONE STICK AND A WACO return:
Lt. Alex Pfister leads a new OSS Jedburgh team behind the German lines, grief stricken when he thinks he has lost his love to a V-2 in London. (The cover is a WWII photo of a Jedburgh team jumping from a "Carpetbagger" B-24.) Dawson and his war dog, Max, return from an unauthorized visit to his pregnant war-bride across the Channel. Even Staff Sergeant Harry Rule, the ex-smoke jumper from Montana, slips away from his hospital bed in England and returns to the Screaming Eagles to revenge the death of the French Resistance fighter who save his line in Normandy...and salve his conscience.
Since SNOW STICKS is a novel based on facts, both in time, place and military organization, we all know what happens next. The Allied high command think the Germans are going to hunker down during the winter; prepare for a Spring offensive or simply strengthen the Siegfried Line or, as the Germans called it, the "Westwall."
Instead, the Germans attack, the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. Among others, soldiers of the 110th Regimental Combat Team, 28th Division, scattered Engineer units, men who think they are on R&R for the weekend, all find themselves in the midst of battle as the Germans surge into Belgium in their thrust toward Antwerp. The Nazi's have at least two goals: stop the Allied flow of supplies and capturing what they could to restock their depleted logistics, then delay the Allied advance long enough to bring the Nazi Vengeance Weapons, the rockets, the jet and rocket planes, all the super weapons envisioned by Hitler, to bear.
Some of the facts, from US Army official reports:
“..A handful of ordnance mechanics manning a Sherman tank fresh from the repair shop are seen at a bridge. By their mere presence they check an enemy column long enough for the bridge to be demolished. The tank and its crew disappear. They have affected the course of the Ardennes battle, even though minutely, but history does not record from whence they came or whither they went. A signal officer checking his wire along a byroad encounters a German column; he wheels his jeep and races back to alert a section of tank destroyers standing at a crossroad. Both he and the gunners are and remain anonymous. Yet the tank destroyers with a few shots rob the enemy of precious minutes, even hours. A platoon of engineers appears in one terse sentence of a German commander's report. They have fought bravely, says the foe, and forced him to waste a couple of hours in deployment and maneuver. In this brief emergence from the fog of war the engineer platoon makes its bid for recognition in history. That is all. A small group of stragglers suddenly become tired of what seems to be eternally retreating. Miles back they ceased to be part of an organized combat formation, and recorded history, at that point, lost them. The sound of firing is heard for fifteen minutes, an hour, coming from a patch of woods, a tiny village, the opposite side of a hill. The enemy has been delayed; the enemy resumes the march westward. Weeks later a graves registration team uncovers mute evidence of a last-ditch stand at woods, village, or hill…”
Extract from "UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, The European Theater of Operations, THE ARDENNES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE
This is the battle in which the men and women in SNOW STICKS find themselves.
Order through your local book store using the title and ISBN: SNOW STICKS : 978-1-879043-33-6
or from the many eBook outlets with the ISBN: 978-1-879043-39-8
SNOW STICK Review
"J. M. Taylor's third novel Snow Sticks reunites the characters from his earlier exciting novels (Missing Sticks and One Stick and a Waco). Interwoven with the fabric of the Battle of the Bulge, the lovable and interesting characters once again face long odds in various combat situations climaxing in a battle that brings them all together (or nearly so) once more. But will they survive?
Review by Rob Ballister, MWSA Awards Director
BG McAuliffe and Vincent Vicari, his aide
Vince was a great supporter of the 101st Airborne Division Association and wonderful friend to all who knew him
Overall 'big picture' of the Battle of the Bulge and the battle for Bastogne:
"German Attack" - http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_14.HTM
"Battle for Bastogne" - http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_19.HTM
"Holding Bastogne" - http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Bastogne/bast-02.htm
"Siege and Relief" - http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Bastogne.html
The V-2 Rocket attack on the London Woolworths Department Store, Thanksgiving Weekend, 1944;
Jedburgh insertions into Germany by the 492nd Bomb Group "Carpetbaggers" B-24Ds;
German attack on Clervaux, Luxemburg and the decisive holding actions by units of the 110th RCT, scattered Engineer units and brave teams and individuals doing their duty as best they could, some to the last man.
The following is quoted from a personal letter from Major General Norman D. Cota. Division Commander, 28th Infantry Division to Colonel Fuller: “I fear that had it not been for your 110th, there never would have been a Bastogne.”
Ambush and misdirection of Americans enroute to Bastogne by members of Hauptsturmführer (SS captain) Otto Skorzeny's commando's dressed in American and British uniforms and using Allied equipment during Operation Grief.
V-2 mobile launches and operations from southern Germany in December 1944, targeting Paris, Antwerp and Liege.
Case Commando V-42 fighting knife history and use by American commandos.
Fort Benning in the desert - the Fifth Army Airborne Training Center provided replacement paratroopers for the Italian campaign.
USAAF Flight Nurses - Flight Nurse Berry, a character introduces in "One Stick and a Waco," is a tribute to my own dear nurse, Peggy Taylor.