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Charles Sanders - The Boys of Winter
This book tells the story of the lives of Ralph Bromaghin of Seattle, WA, Rudy Konieczny of Adams, MA, and Jake Nunnemacher of Pine Lake, WI, and their deaths in World War II as members of the 10th Mountain Division.
Chapter 3 - The Sun Valley Serenader
p. 41: This chapter describes Ralph Bromaghin's life before World War II as a member of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club, musician, and Sun Valley ski instructor. The author includes recollections of Nelson Bennett, Ray and Ralph Clough, Robert Craig, Harriet Clough Waldron, Duke Watson, John Woodward, and others. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, Bromaghin was skiing at Paradise on Mt Rainier with Don Goodman, Charles McLane, Duke Watson, and their commanding officer, Capt. Paul Lafferty.
Chapter 4 - The Time of Their Lives
p. 58: This chapter discusses the training of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment on Mount Rainier during the winter of 1941-42. On p. 70 is a short description of the detachment, including Duke Watson and Rudy Konieczny, sent to the Canadian Rockies to test the "weasel" over-snow vehicle.
p. 72: The seventh of a series of photo pages has a fine picture of Ralph Bromaghin on skis as a Sun Valley ski instructor, circa 1940.
Chapter 5 - Rocky Mountain Highs
p. 76: This chapter describes 10th Mountain Division training at Camp Hale in Colorado during 1943 and 1944. On p. 76 is information about the 10th Recon detachment and the Mountain Training Group, under the leadership of Captain John Woodward and Lieutenants Duke Watson and Ed Link.
Chapter 6 - From Alaska to Austin
p. 89: This chapter describes the ill-fated invasion of Kiska in the Aleutians by the 87th Regiment in June 1943.
p. 94: According to Percy Rideout, Ralph Bromaghin was one of the original three skiers involved in planning for an Aspen ski resort after the war, along with Rideout and Friedl Pfeifer.
p. 98: The author describes the February 1944 "Trooper Traverse" from Leadville to Aspen, which included such noteworthy skiers and mountaineers as John Jay, Paul Petzoldt, Ernest Tapley, Glen Dawson, Fred Beckey, and Bill Hackett.
p. 104: In the spring of 1944, Lt. Ralph Bromaghin helped organized the last ski race at Camp Hale for the 10th, optimistically called the 1st Annual Military Ski Championships and won by Clarence "Buster" Campbell. The author writes that the remainder of the race standings are lost to history (but see cec-clippings). The author also describes the "bewildering dichotomy" of Ralph Bromaghin's personality, how he could swing from being "a morale man's morale man" to being "so regular army."
p. 105: In the summer of 1944, the 10th Mountain Division was transferred to Camp Swift near Austin, Texas, for a few demoralizing months.
Chapter 7 - General Clark and the War in Italy
p. 107: This chapter discusses General Mark Clark's controversial record in World War II. Some critics view Clark as "a selfish blunderer and a notorious waster of American lives." Clark decided to swing his army into largely undefended Rome in June 1944, rather than bottle up tens of thousands of German troops on Italy's western shores. The Nazi troops which were enabled by Clark's move to flee northward became entrenched in the Apennine Mountains. These were the troops that Clark finally decided to deploy the 10th Mountain Division against in the winter of 1944-45.
Chapter 8 - Good-byes
p. 116: Several pages of photos:
- #3: Four members of the 87th Regimental glee club in 1942.
- #4: 87th Regiment in formation on skis outside Paradise Lodge.
- #5: Lt. John Woodward and his wife on skis in Sun Valley.
- #6: Snowshoe maneuvers at Paradise, leading to the birth of "Sven."
- #7: Roger Langley, Charles Minot Dole and Capt. Paul Lafferty.
Chapter 9 - Into the Maelstrom
p. 117: In December 1944, members of the 10th Mountain Division began shipping out to Italy. According to his friend Ralph Lafferty, Ralph Bromaghin seemed to have a premonition that he would not be coming home.
p. 120: The author describes early patrols in Italy, including some on skis. On p. 121 is a good quote from Capt. George Earle on the emotional stress faced by those who went out on patrol.
p. 125: By February 1945, late in the European war, the Supreme Allied Headquarters "viewed the Italian campaign as a 'sideshow' most important for its value as a static front tying up Nazi divisions that might be fighting elsewhere. The only reason to attack would be to force the Nazis to hold in place, were they to attempt a withdrawal in order to reinforce the western front."
Chapter 10 - The Ridges That Could Not Be Taken
p. 128: General Lucien Truscott proposed the attack on Mount Belvedere to make it possible for the Fifth Army to use Highway 64 to reach the Po Valley instead of Highway 65, which was preferred by his superior, General Mark Clark. Truscott felt that the Highway 65 plan would have been an "appalling undertaking" with "little prospect of success." Truscott sold his idea to Clark by arguing that safe travel on Highway 64 was a prerequisite for a successful attack on Highway 65.
p. 132: The author describes the attacks on Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere on February 18 and 19, respectively.
p. 137: On February 21, the attack on Mount della Torraccia was started by the 2nd Battalion of the 85th Regiment led by Lt. Col. John Stone. Over two days, the battalion was decimated. On February 24, General George Hays ordered the 3rd Battalion of the 86th Regiment, led by Maj. John Hay, Jr., to relieve Stone. Captain Duke Watson of Company 86-I led the battalion forward onto the mountain. "At the end of the charge, the fighting was hand to hand," writes the author. Duke Watson made it to the top of della Torraccia after four hours of vicious fighting and immediately began to call in coordinates for artillery strikes. Moments later, a 170mm Nazi howitzer shell exploded a few feet away. "I looked down and saw I'd taken a few pretty good shards in my gut," Watson recalled. "I had no idea how bad it was, but I knew intestinal wounds were very dangerous if not treated quickly, and so I started down." On his way down the mountain, reduced to crawling, he was met by Ralph Bromaghin, who carried him to safety. "Ralph saved my life," said Watson.
p. 141: On February 26, when it seemed that the 10th Mountain Division's first victory was at hand on Mount della Torraccia, a mortar shell landed ten feet away from Ralph Bromaghin, as he was heating coffee on a mountain stove with his friend, Chaplain Henry Brendemihl. Brendemihl caught Bromaghin as he fell. Bromaghin died in Brendemihl's arms.
Chapter 11 - The Brutal Road to Castel d'Aiano
p. 144: The men of the 10th were given a few days rest before beginning the attack on Castel d'Aiano, which began on March 3, 1945. Champion ski jumper Sgt. Torger Tokle, the most famous athlete in the 10th Mountain Division, died during this battle. After capturing the town and Mount della Spe, and suffering heavy losses, the division was ordered to halt its advance against the better judgment of many 10th Mountain officers, including General Hays.
Chapter 13 - The Bloodbath of Spring
p. 166: The author presents a damning assessment of General Mark Clark's thought process in ordering his 15th Army Group to press on toward the Brenner Pass in April, 1945. Historian Martin Blumenson wrote that Clark proceeded principally on the basis of justifying the Italian campaign in its entirety, "in essence risking those lives still in his care to justify lives already lost," writes this author. The author describes the spring offensive, including the actions leading to the deaths of Jake Nunnemacher on April 14 (p. 171) and Rudy Konieczny on April 17 (p. 188).
Chapter 15 - Pursuit to the Alps
p. 190: On April 20, 1945, the 10th Mountain Division broke through to the Po Valley. General Clark wanted Hays to cease forward movement until the remainder of the 5th Army could catch up. General Truscott said, "This is no time to relax," and exhorted the rest of the 5th Army to "get the lead out," writes the author. General Hays regarded Truscott's statement as a revised order and pounced on the opportunity to continue forward. His legendary drive northward left the Nazi forces in northern Italy in disarray. The author writes, "His race to the Alps was exhausting for his troops, but it probably kept more of them alive than if a conventional campaign had been conducted against fixed Nazi positions, as Clark had envisioned." The war in Europe ended officially on May 8, 1945.
Chapter 17 - Legacy
p. 199: The author discusses the post-war legacy of the men of the 10th Mountain Division.
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