By Christopher Miskimon
James Gavin began his wartime service as the commander of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment during the Sicily operation, before assuming command of the entire 82nd Airborne Division for the remainder of the war. He was the first out the door on four combat jumps, earning two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Silver Stars and the Purple Heart for his courage. Neither enemy fire nor weather kept him from visiting his troops in the front lines, so they always knew he was with them. If need be, he crawled from one foxhole to another to check on his soldiers. He carried an M1 Rifle instead of the pistol or carbine most officers toted, and he was known to have used it in action alongside his men.
Gavin kept a journal during the war, which he kept secret even from his family, who discovered it after his death in 1990. Here it has been edited and annotated for the reader, giving insight into Gavin’s views on his operations, fellow senior leaders, and his own life. There are two inserts of well-chosen photographs accompanying the text.
Gavin at War: The World War II Diary of Lieutenant General James. M. Gavin (Edited and annotated by Lewis Sorley, Casemate Books, Havertown, PA, 2022, maps, photographs, appendices, index, $34.95, hardcover)