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Left for Dead at Nijmegen


Loved it! 😍

The riveting story of an American soldier left behind enemy lines during world war two.

               Few doubt the power of story to change one’s life. This was especially true of Gene Metcalf. Metcalf was a student at DeKalb High school in DeKalb Illinois in 1941 when he saw a film about the newly formed 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army including the 508th parachute infantry regiment. From that point on his life would never be the same.

               Metcalf was a fish out of water. He had been raised by emotionally distant stepparents. Having missed a year of school due to illness made him a year older than his classmates. The military seemed to offer a way out.

               He was in excellent physical shape, being an all-around athlete. Little did he know he would need all the physical strength he could muster to survive the coming war.

               Metcalf was medically rejected at first. The event revealed a strong determination that would serve him well. Instead of the 508th, he eventually made it to the 501st, which he figured was close enough.

               After injuring his leg, he ended up in the infirmary. With his future in doubt, he decided to take a stroll around the base one day and was confronted by his old sergeant who immediately commandeered him and sent him back to his unit, which was preparing to deploy.

               He learned he was going to be in the first wave of operation Market Garden; the failed attempt by the allies to secure a bridgehead from Holland across the Rhine into Germany at Nijmegen. They were told to expect light opposition. Unfortunately, some Allied plans had fallen into the hands of the Germans who deployed a division of hardened veterans to defend the town.

               Metcalf’s platoon landed with orders to quickly take and hold the bridge and wait for reinforcements, but they were spotted by a large German unit. An artillery round exploded near Gene, bursting an eardrum and knocking him unconscious. His comrades, forced to retreat, saw his bloodied body and assumed he was dead.

               He spent the rest of the war as a POW. The remainder of the book is a harrowing tale of his captivity, escape attempts and the cruelty of his German captors.               

               Told in the matter-of-fact tone of a college essay, the book is a page turner, full of coincidences, narrow escapes, and tension worthy of a Hollywood film. Left for Dead at Nijmegen is well worth the read.


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I am a writer and educator publishing fiction, essays, reviews and poetry. I write reviews for Wendy Welch's little bookstore at Big Stone gap blog. I am a writing teacher and workshop facilitator, and have published fiction, essays, reviews, poems and photographs.


About the author

Mr. Nannini began his writing career when he published his own newspaper in the sixth grade. The newspaper was a modest success. 2019 Nonfiction Book of the Year: LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN. (Think of the movie"A Bridge Too Far") Look for the WW II Story: Midnight Flight to Nuremburg, in 2020. view profile

Published on December 31, 2019

Published by Casemate Publishers

70000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by