Another River, Another Town

Another River, Another Town

A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat, 1945

Book - 2003
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Many narrative accounts of men in combat during World War II have conveyed the horrors and emotions of warfare. However, not many reveal in such an intimate way the struggle of innocent youth to adapt to the primitive code of "kill or be killed," to transform from lads into combat soldiers.

Another River, Another Town is the story of John P. Irwin, a teenage tank gunner whose idealistic desire to achieve heroism is shattered by the incredibly different view of life the world of combat demands. He comes to the realization that the realm of warfare has almost nothing in common with the civilian life from which he has come.

The interminable fighting, dirt, fatigue, and hunger make the war seem endless. In addition to the killing and destruction on the battlefield, Irwin and his crew are caught up in the unbelievable depravity they encounter at Nordhausen Camp, where slave laborers are compelled to work themselves to death manufacturing the infamous V-rockets that have been causing so much destruction in London, and that are expected one day to devastate Washington, D.C.

At the end of the war, the sense of victory is, for these men, overshadowed by the intense joy and relief they experience in knowing that the fighting is at last over.
Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003.
Edition: 2003 Random House Trade Paperback ed.
ISBN: 9780375759635
Branch Call Number: 940.5421 Irwin
Characteristics: vii, 176 p. ;,21 cm.


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Dec 29, 2013

Another River, Another Town, by John P. Irwin

John Irwin left high school in Pennsylvania to spend what would have been his senior year fighting the Nazis (although it could have been the Japanese). He had just turned 18. He was trained in tanks and became a tank gunner, the man who fires the large gun on a tank. He made it to the front in March 1945. This is an account of his 2 months in combat.

It is told almost 50 years after the fact and following his career as a college philosophy professor. It is clear that his memories, reinforced by a diary, still haunted him to some degree. They included the death of his loader to fragmentation while he took a break on the deck of the tank, the severe burning of the co-driver in an attack by a hand held ?panzerfaust?, his machine gunning of a 12 year old kid that was attacking with a ?panzerfaust? after Irwin?s commander yelled ?kill that kid?, and their liberation of a concentration/slave labor camp at Nordhausen. It was tedious at times, but generally interesting and informative as to what these young men went through.

KEVIN DOWD Jul 10, 2012

Dashing, humorous and an easy read.


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