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Posted on Sep 24, 2007 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Crack and Thump – Book Review

By Mark Nelms

cover.jpgBook Review – Crack and Thump, With a Combat Infantry Officer in World War II, Captain Charles Scheffel with Barry Basden, Camroc Press, LLC, Llano, Texas

In the introduction Mr. Basden explains how he first met Charles Scheffel while recording oral histories of World War II for a museum.  After hearing his story he decided that it was a story that many more people needed to hear and I’m thankful that he did.  These are the kind of stories that more people need to hear to realize the sacrifice of the soldiers of World War II.  Hopefully more of these narratives will come to pass in the future.

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The story begins with Captain Scheffel’s early life which gives us a chance to get to know his background.  Like most soldiers of that generation he was a product of the Great Depression.  The story of his youth makes for interesting reading in itself.  Captain Scheffel was a gifted athlete and attended Oklahoma A&M, now known as Oklahoma State, on an athletic scholarship to play basketball for Hank Iba, one of the basketball coaching legends in America.  This was the first of many notable persons that Captain Scheffel would meet in his life.  Oklahoma A&M was a Federal Land Grant college, which at this time, required that all freshmen and sophomores take basic ROTC.  Seeing the probability of the United States entering the war in Europe, he then enlisted in Advanced ROTC.  Thus Captain Scheffel was introduced to the US Army.

At the outbreak of war the Army recruited Captain Scheffel for the Finance Corps, fitting with his major at college.  He turned this down to volunteer for the infantry and a combat assignment.  From there he went to serve as a training officer in Arkansas at one of the many new camps springing up to train the multitudes entering service.  After serving for a period there he was finally sent to Europe.  While there here served under British command in an attempt to learn from British combat experience.  After a stint there he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division where he served for his combat tour.  While serving with the 9th Infantry Captain Scheffel saw combat in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany.   Captain Scheffel was wounded twice, once coming ashore at Normandy to join the division after the invasion, and finally in Germany, which ended the war for him.  Along the way Captain Scheffel met World War II notables General Harold Alexander and General George Patton.

I really enjoyed this book.  Captain Scheffel had a very eventful military career and saw combat on numerous occasions.  He did what I considered a superb job in describing the confusion and terror that men experience in combat.  His tale is filled with tragedy and triumph which was probably typical of a US soldier in World War II.  The book really skims over the big picture and concentrates on the daily grind and the glimpse of war experienced by platoon and company level officers which is a nice change of pace from reading about this division advanced here and this Corps defended there.  I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how war was at this level.

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