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The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice
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The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,607 ratings  ·  205 reviews
"A powerful reminder of the human cost of war." - Washing Post

In this moving, New York Times best-selling addition to the classic canon of war, acclaimed author Alex Kershaw weaves history, diaries, letters, and firsthand accounts to create the unforgettable story of one small town's ultimate D-Day sacrifice.

Thirty-five sons of rural Bedford, Virginia fought together on a
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published 2003 by MFJ Books
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Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
3.5 Stars

Some months ago my 16 year old son asked me Mum if there was another War and Ireland had to contribute troops would I be drafted ? The hairs stood on the back of my neck as this was something I had never ever thought about as Ireland had been neutral in the past wars and while thousands of young Irish men volunteered to fight the Germans alongside the British in World War II conscription was not a factor. I dread the empty nest syndrome when College comes into play But what must a p
A.L. Sowards
I enjoyed this book and its focus on a relatively small group of men and the families they left behind. Most of them joined the national guard during the depression for the extra money. Company A was from small-town Bedford and included cousins, brothers, and friends. They were federalized before the US got into the war, and after Pearl Harbor they were in for the remainder of the conflict. After extensive training, they hit Omaha beach on D-day as part of the first wave. Not everyone died, but ...more
“Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor . . . They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate . . . . They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father and receive them . . .” – President Roosevelt, New York Times, June 7, 1944, as quoted in “The Bedford Boys”

No matter how many books on war I read, nothing compares to Alex Kershaw’s compassion, hu
'Aussie Rick'
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-military, ww2

A very good and interesting account of a group of men from A Company, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, who were part of the first wave at Omaha Beach in 1944. I found the book easy to read and captivating, following these men from enlistment and training to the beaches at Normandy. A deeply touching book about a bunch of normal people from the small town of Bedford and what happened to them and their families, highly recommended.
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and sad book. My great uncle, Gordon Henry White, Jr. was one of the Bedford Boys. He and other men from Bedford were in the first company to hit the beaches on D-Day. He died that day along with most of the men in his company. This was a great glimpse into the lives of these families and the small town that suffered so much. It gives first hand accounts from the few survivors of the initial attack and talks to the families about what it was like for them before, during, and after the wa ...more
4 Stars for a somber, hard hitting story about one of the first units to hit Omaha beach on D-Day. If you have seen "Saving Private Ryan", you will get an idea of what they met at the water's edge. To read about the men and their families, before, during and after brought it so close to home. I recently drove by Bedford, VA but didn't want to stop until I read this book. I'll be back that way again soon and will stop to really appreciate the National D-Day Memorial.
Elizabeth Buckner
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
So very sad, but a great reminder of the sacrifices of others so I could be free.
Mark Mortensen
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
I can easily relate to little All-American town of Bedford, VA as when I received my draft number for the Vietnam War, the population of my hometown was slightly less than Bedford’s 3,000 residents during World War II. The Bedford community was devastated when 19 young men were killed on D-Day, June 6, 1944, while taking control of the strategic sandy shore along Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

The male youths, who gravitated to become members of the local National Guard, were caught up in the s
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I would have thought that since the publication of Stephen Ambrose's authoritative D-Day, subsequent author's would have little new to say about the epic battle that turned the tide of WWII in Europe. Luckily for us Alex Kershaw has managed to find a new angle.

The Bedford Boys focuses on Company A of the 116th infantry regiment, which was among the first units to land on D-Day. Company A was largely composed of residents of Bedford, VA. population 3000 in 1944, 22 Bedford Boys didn't return From
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to favor regimental histories, or personal memoirs of World War II experiences. I thought this paean to the lost men of Bedford, VA would be maudlin, or trite. I was wrong. Alex Kershaw completed meticulous research, interviewed countless townspeople, family members, and survivors, and researched the regiment so thoroughly that the reader feels he knows the members of Company A. Yes, I realized what was coming. But, Kershaw didn't dwell on the landing and the death of the soldiers from Be ...more
Shane Gower
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sad, compelling, and important. The story this book tells is infinitely relatable to anyone who lived in a small town in America. My Grandfather served in the war and grew up in a very similarly sized town in Maine. I remember hearing their stories of how the war impacted the town. I can't imagine the impact on the town if 19 of its own had died in one day. This is what happened to Bedford, VA and why the author chose the title he did. I recently travelled to Bedford, VA to visit the National D- ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping account on how personal war was and will be. Since Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan it is well-known how much the first waves of soldiers suffered on Omaha Beach. It happened to be that a lot of the Bedford Boys were at the wrong place at the wrong time: the dog green sector at Vierville on June 6, 1944. Kershaw builds the story up in a traditional way, with all the training and preparations that the men went through. What I did not really expect, but appreciate, is the detailed descript ...more
Jessie Gussman
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book on D-Day, focusing mainly on the men from one town in Virginia who happened to be some of the first to step, and fall, on the French sand. Well documented with an extensive list of notes at the end, it is not an easy book to read, because of the sacrifice these men and this town made. The author included a description of D-Day in Bedford, VA that was a blessing to learn about. If it's true that there are no atheists in fox holes, then there are no atheists who have sons, brot ...more
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the amazing story about the boys from the small American town of Bedford, Virginia who were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division. They were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day.

Alex Kershaw writes of the experiences and sacrifices, not only of the boys over there, but of their families and friends on the homefront as well. This account really brought the US Infantry's side of D-Day to life for me and the last half of t
steven zisk
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History of D Day

Outstanding reading for those who love history. The unimaginable sacrifices of one small American community, and how this one day in history affected their lives, not only on that day, but for hundreds of days for years and years to come. God bless America, and the sacrifices that made my life possible.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read this book about the Bedford Boys ---- well, you should. One of Alex Kershaw's BEST on how WW11 broke the hearts of a single community in Virginia.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Alex Kershaw book I've read this year (both WWII related) and I have to say he's fast becoming one of my favorite writers even though in both instances, they were both so incredibly tragic but especially The Bedford Boys.

While obviously I knew about the events of D-Day, I didn't really know much of the backstory, the events leading up to it. And by events I'm not talking about the Montgomerys, the Eisenhowers, or the Churchhills. But rather the group of boys (for so many of th
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author tells the story of boys from Bedford Virginia who as part of the National guard participated as part of Company A in the D-day invasion of Normandy on Omaha beach. The book covers individuals, families and actions during this time.

Alex Kershaw a premier writer of WWII does an excellent job writing about this select group which otherwise would get lost in the macro topic of D-day.

This is my fourth book I've read by the author. I enjoy his work and ability to tell a good story.
Kenneth Flusche
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well Written WWII History written for and by Survivors in loving memories of the Dead
Laura Beasley
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Anne H.
This was a great book but one of the hardest books I have ever read. It was heart breaking from beginning to end. These young men were so young and left family and so many did not return home. You really get to know the Bedford boys. I went and visited the memorial in Bedford in April and it is an amazing memorial. I plan to return again soon and I know everything will have a very different meaning. The book lets you in on the personal life of the boys, their time in training and then the war wh ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing to read such unbelievable sacrifice!
Sara Nunn
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the WWII museum/memorials in New Orleans, Pearl Harbor, DC, and of course Bedford,VA, I was motivated to listen to the audio version of this book. It moved me to tears in several parts. We will never know the true feelings of all the Bedford Boys of Company A on D-Day, but books like this are a solemn reminder of the sacrifice they gave to their country and our freedom.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII buffs, D-Day buffs, Americans
Shelves: history
Bedford, Virginia was a small community just outside of Roanoke, with nothing special about it compared to other communities of the pre-WWII era. Loving families and young men who joined the CCC and the National Guard to earn money during the Depression. Farmers and factory workers and folks just trying to get by.

D-Day changed everything for Bedford, and the reverberations are still being felt by the people who were living there then, and who are descended from them.

Bedford is the community in
Ted Duke
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tori Duke
Recommended to Ted by: my wife
If you know nothing of the sacrifices of the young people (and their families) who served during WWII protecting our freedoms, YOU MUST read this book. The soldiers, the nurses, the families suffered losses even if they survived. If you know of that sacrifice you will still learn more.

This book was hard for me to read at times. A well told true story of families and young ladies losing the loves of their lives. What was harder, a wife or girlfriend losing their love,or a sibling losing their bro
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this book in a Denver hotel room during a fit of insomnia - lucky me. This is a moving story of the young men of Bedford, VA who joined the national guard to earn money and wound up spearheading the Allied invastion at Normandy. Literally, the first to land at Omaha beach, the extraordinary casualty rate among Company A of the 29th Infantry Division made Bedford's sacrifice, according to Brit-cum-American author Alex Kershaw, the greatest of any American town, which is largely why the Nati ...more
History Geek
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two
I've read countless books about World War Two and in particular D-Day. My grandfather was there in the days after the invasion and I've spent my life trying to fill in the blanks of his story. This book is special, it doesn't spend as much time on the failures and triumphs of "The Longest Day", but instead it focuses on the human story of war. If you take the death, destruction, and senselessness out of war, and only focus on the human spirit as it relates to it, the human war story is a marvelo ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devastating, yet poignant story about the small town of Bedford, VA which proportionately lost more sons on D-Day than any other town in all of America. Tragic lessons were learned from WWII. Never allow brothers to serve in the same Company or on the same Ship (the Sullivan brothers) and never allow the National Guard from a small town to serve in the same Company to fight (and die) together leaving a small town bereft.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful story about a town and its young men who endured terrible sacrifices to end tyranny in Europe. Reading this book made me so proud of Bedford and its boys who never came home and those who did. Read it.
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every person in America should read this in order to understand the reality of war, the ultimate price these guys paid for freedom. They were all heroes.
Sue Larson
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and a compelling reminder of the sacrifices that were made in the quest of peace and justice.
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UCAS English 11 R...: October Reading Assignment 1 3 Oct 31, 2018 04:31PM  
Can you forgive a historical book for historical inaccuracies? 1 10 Jun 11, 2013 11:35PM  
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Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, The Liberator, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is The First Wave: The D Day Warriors Who Led The Way to Victory in WWII. He lives in Savannah.
“The Stevens brothers had shared everything except women since they could remember: poker winnings, uniform, Red Cross parcels, news from home, and their most intimate fears and hopes. But in a few hours' time, after years of being inseparable, they would not share the same landing craft bound for the beaches of northern France. For the first time since they had joined the National Guard, a week apart in 1938, they would not be side by side. They would not face their greatest test together. They would arrive on Omaha Beach in different boats.” 0 likes
“Fellers had studied the Allied intelligence and countless aerial shots and concluded that Company A was being sent to face certain slaughter.

Fellers and Nance both looked out to sea.

"We stood there awhile," recalled Nance. "We didn't say a word, not a single word to each other. I guess we'd said it all.

An anti-aircraft gun broke the silence, tracer bullets spitting through the sky, and then a searchlight caught the blaze of an exploding plane. "That brought it home to me," recalled Nance. "This thing is real. It's not an exercise.”
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