May 16, 2008

Book Review - Patton's Fighting Bridge Builders

Patton's Fighting Bridge Builders: Company B, 1303rd Engineer General Service Regiment
edited by Joseph C. Fitzharris
D 769.335 1303rd .P38 2007

The diary of Company B, 1303rd Engineers forms the core of this book. Intended to serve as a non-combat unit, this group was tasked with building bridges and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for Patton's Army to advance across Europe in pursuit of the Germans. What this diary records, however, is that this "non-combat" unit often served as the southern flank of Patton's advancing Army. Twice, they were called on to deploy as infantrymen to repel German attacks, and their bridge-building efforts were often conducted while under enemy fire so that the Army could continue advancing. Fitzharris has edited this diary, filling in the missing pieces and clarifying references made by the soldiers so that they can be understood in the context of the larger campaign. This story is interesting by itself, but it also shows the central importance of engineers, general service regiments, and other support units to the outcome of World War II.