On the day that Roswell K. Doughty graduated from Boston University he also received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army of the United States of America. That, though, was in 1931 and it was not until 1942 that he was called to active duty – to face some of the toughest fighting of the Second World War.
With the rank of 1st Lieutenant, Doughty became an Intelligence Officer with the US 36th (Texas) Division. He subsequently saw action in North Africa, then at the disastrous Salerno landings in Italy – where the Allied divisions involved suffered 4,000 casualties – about which the author reveals that suspected intelligence breaches led to the Allies’ plans becoming known to the Germans.
Doughty was involved in the grueling battles against the formidable German defenses of the Gustav Line, particularly in the tragic failed attempt to cross the Gari river (Battle of the Rapido River, January 1944) and the struggle to conquer Monte Cassino. After the Anzio landings and the liberation of Rome, Doughty and his infantry regiment, the 141st, took part in the invasion of Southern France in Operation Dragoon, fighting its way up the Rhône River and advancing up to the River Moselle in December 1944. In March 1945, his unit breached the Siegfried Line and crossed into the Germany itself.
Promoted to captain and later to major, Doughty led an Intelligence and Reconnaissance unit, the role of which was to learn what it could of enemy strengths, minefields, useable roads and so on, which involved going behind enemy lines to observe enemy movements firsthand. As an Intelligence Officer, it was also part of Doughty’s duties to interrogate enemy prisoners, which led him to being involved in the capture and detention of Reichsmarschall Göring and in negotiating the surrender of the still-armed and hostile German First Army in May 1945.
This is the fascinating and diverse account of one officer’s part in the liberation of Europe in the Second World War, one which led him from North Africa through Italy and France into the heart of the Third Reich.