Cover image for The Fighting First : the untold story of the Big Red One on D-Day
The Fighting First : the untold story of the Big Red One on D-Day
Whitlock, Flint.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 384 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D756.5.N6 W48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D756.5.N6 W48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
D756.5.N6 W48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D756.5.N6 W48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Fighting First tells the untold story of the 1st Infantry Division's part in the D-Day invasion of France at Normandy. Using a variety of primary sources, official records, interviews, and unpublished memoirs by the veterans themselves, author Flint Whitlock has crafted a riveting, gut-wrenching, personal story of courage under fire. Operation Overlord - the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 - was arguably the most important battle of World War II, and Omaha Beach was the hottest spot in the entire operation. Leading the amphibious assault on the "Easy Red" and "Fox Green" sectors of Omaha Beach was the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division - "The Big Red One" - a tough, swaggering outfit with a fine battle record. The saga of the Big Red One, however, did not end with the storming of the beachhead. The author concludes with an account of the 1st in their fight across France, Belgium, and into Germany itself, playing pivotal roles in the bloody battles for Aachen, the Huertgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge. The Fighting First is an inspiring, graphic, and often heartbreaking story of young American soldiers performing their D-Day missions with spirit, humor, and determination.

Author Notes

Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Flint Whitlock is a former U.S. Army officer who served on active duty from 1965 to 1970, including a tour in Vietnam. He has been a military historian since 1986 and is the author of Soldiers on Skis, The Rock of Anzio , and The Fighting First . He is a regular contributor to World War II magazine and WW II History magazine. He is the president of the newly formed Colorado Military History Museum, Inc. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author of two solid World War II divisional histories now turns to the 1st Infantry--the Big Red One--in northwestern Europe. Transferred to England to provide veterans to spearhead D-Day, the division had to cope with disappointment at not going home, warm English beer, a rigorous training schedule, and assimilating a great many green recruits. None of that remotely compared with actually going ashore on Omaha Beach, where the Big Red One ran the same gauntlet of German fire that the better-publicized and no less valiant 29th Infantry also faced. The 1st's early waves had to fight tooth and nail to get off the beaches, needed all the courage and naval help they could get--and won three Medals of Honor on D-Day alone. The last part of the book sees the division across France and into Germany, detailing its other Medal of Honor winners and the process of the green recruits of England becoming hardened veterans in a justly famous fighting outfit. --Roland Green Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The author of two other WWII histories (Soldiers on Skis and The Rock of Anzio), Whitlock now focuses on the often overlooked 1st Infantry Division that, along with the well-chronicled 29th Division, stormed Omaha beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Nicknamed "The Big Red One," the 1st Division was already seasoned in the North Africa and Sicily campaigns and expected to be transferred from the Mediterranean to a cushy job training green recruits stateside. Instead, the haggard, battle-hardy division was sent to England to train for Operation Overload under a new commander, Clarence Huebner. Through interviews, unpublished manuscripts and other primary sources, Whitlock recounts their determined, if exhausted, preparation for the invasion of France: they stoically survived warm British beer and rigorously trained replacements for their fallen brothers-in-arms. Burdened with every piece of equipment they could possibly need (and some they didn't), the 1st fought their way through barbed wire, mines and machine guns, past formidable German fortifications and into the hedgerow country beyond the beach cliffs. They won three D-Day Medals of Honor for those 12 hours of fighting alone. The rest of the book covers the high points of the European campaign, moving along with the 1st through street fighting in Aachen, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Bonn. Altogether this book is a worthwhile chronicle of a small group of worn-out men who were called to do yet another duty and did it well. 50 b&w photographs, 20 maps (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Whitlock (Soldiers on Skis; The Rock of Anzio) has written the first oral history of the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army (a.k.a. the Big Red One). His emphasis is on the division's preparation and actual landing on Normandy's Omaha Beach in 1944. The remainder of the text briefly sketches its work in the subsequent hedgerow wars through France and Germany, as well as the fighting in the Huertgen Forest and at the Battle of the Bulge. Of course, the late Stephen Ambrose set the style for this sort of oral history, and Whitlock follows suit. Whitlock himself writes well; one is able to sense the utter fear of men knowing they may be facing almost instant death-even when the men are battle-hardened veterans of the earlier Italian campaigns. Here is the real story of Private Ryan. Readers wishing more in the way of maps, photography, and pure history can consult Ian Westwell's 1st Infantry Division: Big Red One. Recommended for public libraries. [June 6, 2004, marks the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.-Ed.]-Rich Nowicki, Emerson Vocational H.S. (ret.), Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.