world war II reminiscences

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					War Stories: World War II Reminiscences
George L. Nicklin
George L. Nicklin, M.D., Shelter Island, NY, $15.95, paperback, (102p)
ISBN: 0-9769402-1-3

"War Stories: World War II Reminiscences" by author George L. Nicklin, M.D., is a collection of
his articles previously prepared for and included in various publications, and subsequently adapted
for this book. It is, appropriately "Dedicated with love to all the Victims and Survivors of World
War II." The articles recount the author's first hand WW II combat experiences in Europe during
four months of 1944-45. This is a soldier's story, recorded from the slit trenches of the combat zone
in Germany, while under heavy fire and constantly living in the "Valley of the Shadow of Death."
As a frontline infantryman and subsequent combat medical assistant, Nicklin was an eyewitness to
and participant of some of the most intense and bitter infantry battles fought in Germany during

The casualties suffered by his unit, King Company, 47th Regiment, Ninth Division were
unbelievably high. During the period Oct. 1944 to Feb. 1945, "the 120 man unit known as King (K)
Company went through about 500 replacements! The only way in which one could leave combat
was to be wounded, psychotic, or dead." And as General Omar Bradley, who is quoted in the book
said, "Sooner or later, unless victory comes, the chase must end on the litter, or in the grave."

It was also a period that brought about in the author a profound and lasting belief in God. His
conversion from agnosticism to a fervent and absolute belief in the Almighty came during the
darkest hour, a heavy and intense artillery barrage at night. Suddenly, in response to his frantic
prayers, "(He) could hear an internal voice saying to (him), 'you do not have to worry-you will

From that day Nicklin's faith in God became total. He fought with the self-confidence that God
would take care of him from then on, and was awarded two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
The war ended for him when he suffered serious battle injuries from a German mortar shell.
Despite 55 pieces of shrapnel in his body, including some in his lung, spinal column, and testes, his
unshakeable faith in his God helped him triumph over fears of permanent disability and sterility. He
was discharged in February 1946, after undergoing nine months of medical treatment in the US.

Nicklin's combat experience gave him considerable insight into the problems of battlefield stress
amongst combatants, and he discovered that about a third of the casualties were psychiatric. He
found it bizarre that those who continued to fight in "this sociologic madness called war" were
considered sane, while those who broke down were considered insane. This paradox brought about
a somewhat "Catch-22" situation; if you broke down due to battle fatigue, you were evacuated, as
you were considered not sane enough to stay and fight. If you remained "sane," you continued to
fight until you were wounded or killed, which "seem(ed) like an insane thing to do."

The author is a keen observer of human nature. There are some people in the book who appear
often in the articles and deserve mention. They are PFC Carl Vernon Sheridan, who won a Medal
of Honor posthumously for his bravery on the front line; Mess Sergeant Emmett Schuette, who
provided hot breakfast and even Thanksgiving dinner to the front line; Stephen Miletich Platoon
Sergeant, possibly the bravest soldier in the eyes of Nicklin; and fellow medic and close friend,
Lone Prophet, whose death haunts the author even today. As the articles in "War Stories: World
War II Reminiscences" were written at different periods of time for various publications, the reader
will find that there is some degree of repetition with regard to certain characters and incidences.
These are unavoidable, but in no way detract from what is a very moving and personalized combat
soldier's story.

Dr. Nicklin received his psychoanalytic training at the William A. White Institute, and psychiatric
training at Bellevue Hospital and New York University. He retired in 2004 after a successful and
fulfilling practice of fifty-one years. He has been married for 55 years to a wonderful woman, has
four children, and twelve grandchildren.

                                                                               BookWire Review
                                                                                  April 3, 2006

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