Chris Hartley Presents “The Lost Soldier: The Ordeal of a World War II GI from the Home Front to the Hürtgen Forest”
5:00 p.m. Reception | 6:00 p.m. Discussion | 7:00 p.m. Book Signing
The Institute for the Study of War and Democracy is delighted to host a conversation on a new book that highlights the personal side of war and commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest, a controversial battle still to this day.
Pete Lynn was 33 years old and married with children when he received a draft notice in March 1944. Lynn worked in a textile mill, was raising a family, and never expected to be drafted. But when the notice arrived, like so many others, he left his home and family to do his duty. By the end of the month, he was training in Texas. By September, he was serving with the 28th Infantry Division in Europe. And by November, he was dead. In The Lost Soldier: The Ordeal of a World War II GI from the Home Front to the Hürtgen Forest—a new, unique, and revealing look at World War II—Chris Hartley reconstructs the war of one American soldier, the war of his family back home, and the war of many thousands of GIs and their families in this century-defining conflict.
In September 1944, Pete Lynn joined an infantry company and soon wrote his wife, “Darling, this is not like being back in the states.” The life of a replacement soldier—some 300,000 of them arrived in Europe in the six months following D-Day—was difficult: a green soldier fresh from home would be separated from the men he had trained with and would join a platoon of battle-hardened strangers who resented the appearance of their ranks, an uninitiated newcomer whose inexperience could endanger the unit.
Toward the end of October, the 28th Infantry Division entered the Hürtgen Forest to participate in a battle that historians have long considered ill conceived. Pete Lynn would never leave the Hürtgen Forest alive. He was killed in combat on November 2, 1944, just shy of eight months after he was drafted. In his final letter home, postmarked the day after he died, he sent his wife $60 to go Christmas shopping for their two children and unborn baby telling her, “I will always love you till the day I die.”
The Lost Soldier weaves together all the threads—soldier and wife, Home Front and army life, combat, love and loss, individual and army division—into an intimate, engaging narrative that is at once gripping military history and engaging social history.
About the author:
Chris J. Hartley is author of Stoneman’s Raid, 1865, which won a prize from the North Carolina Society of Historians and was a finalist for the Ben Franklin Award in History from the Independent Book Publishers Association. He also wrote Stuart’s Tarheels. He is a speaker, battlefield tour guide, and author of articles for such publications as America’s Civil War and Military Heritage. He lives outside Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Joining Hartley in conversation will be Jason Dawsey, PhD, Research Historian at the Museum. The reception and presentation are free and open to the public, and brought to you by the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy. For more information or to register, call 504-528-1944 x 412.
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