Home2023-01-18T10:46:14-06:00

NEW FROM FRENCH L. MACLEAN

Waffen-SS Tiger Crews at Kursk

The Men of SS Panzer Regiments 1, 2 & 3 in Operation Citadel, July 5-15, 1943

Waffen-SS Tiger Crews at Kursk

Books by French MacLean

This Day in History: January 28

Artist rendition of Stalin Organ rocket launchers

At Stalingrad, heavy enemy attacks backed by massed artillery and rocket launchers (referred to by the Germans as Stalin Organs) penetrated the Tsaritsa perimeter to the west of the railway.  Defenders in the area ran out of ammunition.  The Sixth Army headquarters was located at the Univermag department store in central Stalingrad.  The army stopped food rations for all wounded soldiers.  The Luftwaffe airdropped 83.1 tons of supplies into the encirclement.  (Stalingrad: The Death of the German Sixth Army on the Volga, 1942-1943)

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Erich Muhsfeldt

On January 28, 1948 (some sources give the date as January 24,) Polish authorities hanged Erich Muhsfeldt for crimes against humanity committed during his service at Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps.  He began his service on July 15, 1940 at Auschwitz I.  On November 15, 1941 Muhsfeldt was transferred to Majdanek Concentration Camp, where he assumed the role of the chief of the crematorium.  He returned to Auschwitz in May 1944 for duty as the supervising officer of the Jewish Sonderkommando in Crematorium II and III at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.  After a brief stint at the front, but in early Apr 1945 he was assigned to Flossenbürg concentration camp.

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Chicago Crime Calendar

On January 28, 1936, Richard Albert Loeb, part of the Leopold and Loeb team that kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks on May 21, 1924, was attacked by fellow inmate James Day at Stateville Prison in Joliet with a straight razor in a shower room and died soon after in the prison hospital of 58 wounds including a slit throat.

Welcome to an Adventure!

Do you enjoy solving mysteries ? Do you like to travel in time when you read ? Are you looking to discover history books that tell what really happened ? Then come on in.

I had a great life spending over thirty years in the Army; was able to help defend the country in two wars with a bunch of tremendous soldiers and any success I may have had was due to each and every one of them; as I frequently tell my friends — I am no hero, but I served with heroes and you can’t do any better than that. I was also able to see the world, help develop complex technology and understand that I lived in a pretty special country. The only downside to all that Army time was that after I retired, doing regular day-to-day living was pretty boring.

So I started to write. It didn’t and doesn’t bring you much money, but it sure has been interesting traveling around the country and the world to chase after historical mysteries. I came across a page or two in some World War II history books, for example, on some special Waffen-SS unit in World War II that was composed of criminals let out of jail — but there were not that many details about it — and by luck I ran into detailed records of the unit buried in our National Archives. That led to The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger Hitler’s Most Notorious Anti-Partisan Unit.

Several more books on Germany in World War II followed: the dark side with works on concentration camps, Einsatzkommandos, and the Destruction of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto, and more-traditional writings on Luftwaffe Knights Cross winners and U-Boat sailors. That was fun, because I was able to interview many of them.

On a trip out to the Little Bighorn, I began to wonder what life was like for the basic enlisted cavalryman. All the existing books talked about officers — George Custer, Marcus Reno and Frederick Benteen — but what about the hundreds of privates and sergeants? That search led to Custer’s Best: The Story of Company M, 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn, which was able to win the John M. Carroll Award.

Then, in 2001, I discovered U.S. Army records that were languishing outside Washington, D.C. that contained the story of 96 American soldiers who were court-martialed in Europe and North Africa in World War II and subsequently executed by the Army — not the German Army, but our own Army. And they were buried in a secret cemetery northwest of Paris that is not shown on any map! It took me a decade to run down all the loose ends, but we finally got the story, which led to The Fifth Field: The Story of the 96 American Soldiers Sentenced to Death and Executed in Europe and North Africa in World War II, which subsequently received the Lieutenant General Richard G. Trefry Award. In fact, if you only read one of the books, read this one! Because it will show you that if you are willing to hunt for the truth long enough, you can find it and document it.

More recently, I stumbled across a little known battlefield in southeast Montana on a bed & breakfast ranch, and just turned in into Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gold and Guns: The 1874 Yellowstone Wagon Road and Prospecting Expedition and the Battle of Lodge Grass Creek. It is the saga of a Montana wagon train in Montana in 1874 that was searching for gold. The 150 gold miners, buffalo hunters and Civil War veterans did not find any gold, but they did run into Sitting Bull and 1,400 of his closest friends. You can visit the route they took today as many of their campsites and their three major skirmishes with Sitting Bull are all shown with GPS coordinates that you can just plug into your device.

I helped a great friend finish his own non-fiction book on the murder of Tsar Nicholas II, as well as a magazine article analyzing the Little Bighorn Cook-Benteen Note (it might have been “doctored” after the battle.) His book is titled Romanovs’ Murder Case: The Myth of the Basement Room Massacre. (Spoiler Alert: The Bolsheviks lied about what happened, and there was an American Army officer closely involved with the event.)

Then I finished a massive book on the German offensive at Verdun in 1916, but so far have been unable to contract with a publisher, so if you know of one that might be interested let me know!

More successful is a book, which came out in October 2019, a biography of Master Sergeant John C. Woods, the U.S. Army hangman in Europe at the end of World War II, who stayed on to hang numerous Nazi war criminals at Landsberg and Nürnberg in 1945-46. American Hangman: MSgt. John C. Woods: The United States Army’s Notorious Executioner in World War II and Nürnberg.

The latest book is on the Tiger tank crews of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps at the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. This is the first work in any language concentrating on the crews, rather than the tank; there are over 220 crewmen that rode on these super tanks. It is published by Schiffer, came out October 28, 2020, and is shown above.

I have finished a book on my father’s experience as an Infantry soldier in the 9th Infantry Division in World War II. He fought in the Hürtgen Forest, a place called Merode Castle, and The Battle of the Bulge, and will be about what it was like to be a young infantryman in these bloody battles. They had a really tough time; in just the last eleven months of the war, they had 87 killed in action and several hundred wounded. But they only had 177 soldiers assigned and you’ll see some guys were wounded up to three times and some replacements arrived at the company in the morning and were dead by sundown. I’ve put my heart and soul in this because of my father and I think it will be the last book I write — and clearly the best I believe.

The best news is that Schiffer Publishing will publish the book. I will turn in all material to them prior to July 1, 2023! It’s tentative title will be Dying Hard. My guess is that it will come out in 2024, appropriate as that will be the 80th Anniversary of the Hürtgen Forest and The Battle of the Bulge!

Two books are ready for you right now, completely FREE, and can be found in the E-Books section. Both are novels. One is a crime novel set in Puerto Rico that touches on the murder of famed boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho, and the other a new version of “Dante’s Inferno” with World War II personages occupying the various levels of hell. Both books are downloadable in three formats. There are no ads or commercials in either one, and both are ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Another observation I made while in the Army was that the world is a dangerous place and unfortunately a lot of that danger is coming to our own country. September 11, 2001 should have been a wake-up call, but too many lessons have already been forgotten and acts of terror now occur in large cities and small towns across the country. So I have also started several projects to help people organize their thoughts on personal protection (such as the Walther PPQ M2 .45 ACP pistol,) and how we might want to analyze some of these enemies to our nation (see Strategy, Weapons and Tactics).

So come on inside and go on Your Own Adventure!

Latest News

Dying Hard

It won’t be long before I turn in the finished book, Dying Hard, to the editors at Schiffer Publishing, who will work their magic to turn it into something you will love to read.  So what is it all about?  In short, the story is about one tiny American Army infantry company that fought for our country for several years in World War II.  But it’s a lot more than that.

Once upon a time, the forces of evil came within a razor’s edge of plunging the world into a second Dark Age.  Many, many nations answered the call to defend civilization, but only one – the United States of America – could tip the balance of fate to victory for the defenders of what was good and right.  And she did.

America won the war with a huge industrial base.  She won it with a unity of effort seldom seen before and never seen since.  She won it by bringing women and minorities into the war effort.  She won it with magnificent technology.  She won it with a few senior leaders in each military service and in Washington who had the remarkable foresight to comprehend the new character of this war and how it would be conducted.  But most of all she won it with a bunch of boys who stood on God-forsaken battlefields around the world and in their own brazen and cocky manner snarled at their foe: “Not today Tojo; not today Benito; not today Adolf.  Not today, not tomorrow; not ever.  To get to where you want to go, Adolf, you have to go through us.  And that ain’t happening.”

The cost of that victory was monumental – which is why we have so many monuments around the world to remember their sacrifice.  Unlike in many other nations, however, […]

January 22, 2023|

My Friend Eric Paternoster

My friend and West Point classmate, Eric Paternoster, died about three weeks ago.  We had known each other since 1970 when we entered the US Military Academy and were assigned to Company A-2.  Attended his Celebration of Life ceremony in Cincinnati last Friday and wrote down some of my thoughts on him.

A Man for All Seasons

As we look back at Eric Paternoster, it would be quite understandable to call him a “Renaissance Man” – someone with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge, and with expertise in multiple disciplines.  That was certainly true for Eric, who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1974, served as an airborne, ranger, infantry officer, earned a graduate degree from the University of Cincinnati, and worked as a senior consultant with Accenture, followed by Ernst & Young, and finally with Infosys as the CEO of Infosys Public Services.  A “Renaissance Man”?  Certainly.

Sir Thomas More

But Eric was much more.  Five-hundred years ago, author Robert Whittington coined the phrase “A Man for All Seasons” describing Sir Thomas More, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, and statesman – and perhaps most importantly a man who stood up to King Henry VIII, and for this offense was beheaded.  It is said that the executioner was so distraught that he begged for More’s pardon before carrying out his grim task.  To Whittington, “A Man for All Seasons” was a person ready to take on whatever life threw at him; a person suited for all occasions; who does not get flustered easily, but keeps a calm, efficient demeanor; a person who has proven to be extremely reliable and trustworthy; acts with grace and aplomb, but […]

November 14, 2022|
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