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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

Now Available
Waffen-SS Tiger Crews at Kursk

Books by French MacLean

This Day in History: December 5th

The following recommendation for promotion, dated December 5, 1942, requests promotion for Kurt Bühligen to the grade of first lieutenant. “Lieutenant Bühligen’s intellectual and physical attributes are above average. He is tough and persevering; a decent, open-minded character, very reliable, well-liked by superiors, the men under him and within his circle of comrades. He has good technical capabilities and for weeks substituted for the Technical Officer of the group. Since July 3, 1942, he has been the action commander of the 4th Squadron and (from November 5, 1942 on) as Squadron Commander and has proven himself very well in flying as well as troop duty. He possesses élan, pulls the men in his command along with him and knows how to differentiate between the essential and unessential. Bühligen is generous. Lieutenant Bühligen has proven himself in more than 100 combat missions. On September 6, 1941, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. To date, he has shot down 27 enemy planes. Bühligen has initiative and knows how to respond in every situation. He is a National Socialist.” (Luftwaffe Efficiency and Promotion Reports for the Knight’s Cross Winners)

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 final product is a book 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 road on these super tanks. It is published by Schiffer, came out October 28, 2020, and is shown above.

Right now I am finishing 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 and The Battle of the Bulge and will be about what it was like to be a young infantryman in these two bloody battles. I have one more archive to visit, which was earlier delayed because of the virus. I’ll be done by the end of the year and then just need to find a publisher.

Two books that are ready for you right now, are 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!

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Sometimes you run across a person with a special talent, and even if you don’t know that individual well, you want success for them.  Such is the case of Luis Ángel Colón, whom I met while researching for maybe a new novel on Puerto Rico.  He lives in a modern, wooden house high on a hill outside Barranquitas.  He built the house because that is what Luis does – build incredible things with wood.  Not only houses, he may be the best craftsman currently constructing the Cuatro Puertorriqueño.  Known as a Cuatro for short, it is Puerto Rico’s most popular melodic instrument, and is played in both secular and religious music.  It sort of looks like a violin, or more accurately a violin-shaped guitar.  The Cuatro originally had four double-strings (hence cuatro for four) but at the end of the nineteenth century a fifth was added as its popularity rose on the island.

Cuatro by Luis Ángel Colón

Luis’ Cuatros are wonderful instruments, but don’t take my word for it.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City [Accession Number: 2003.216.1] has one of Luis’ creations.  An artist himself, Luis is proud when Cuatro-players around the island tell him what a great instrument he has made for them.

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Montgomery Meigs

 

Sometimes you get the opportunity to work with a real American hero.  If you get really lucky, you serve again with that person a second time.  Such was the case with Lieutenant Colonel Montgomery Meigs, then a Cavalry Squadron Commander, and I was the C Troop commander in his unit.  Later, he rose to become the Commander of US Army Europe as a 4-star general, saw my name as coming up for reassignment, and asked me to be the Inspector General for the US Army Europe.  When I arrived in Heidelberg and reported in to his office, I asked him for his “Commander’s Intent” for guiding the tens of thousands of Army troops in Germany and other countries, and he replied: “We’re going to do that just like back in the Squadron.”

Montgomery Cunningham “Monty” Meigs, former Commander, U. S. Army Europe (USAREUR,) was born in Annapolis, Maryland on January 11, 1945.  His father, a lieutenant colonel and tank battalion commander, had been killed in action in France exactly one month before his son was born.  The great-great-great grandnephew of Montgomery C. Meigs of Civil War fame, the younger Meigs graduated from West Point in 1967.  He served as a cavalry troop commander and a squadron operations officer in Vietnam.  After receiving a Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and attending the Army’s Command and General Staff College, he taught in the History Department at West Point, spending one academic year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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